Eviction and harassment

The law protects people living in residential property against harassment and illegal eviction. It does this in two ways: by making harassment and illegal eviction a criminal offence, and by allowing someone who is harassed or illegally evicted to claim damages through the civil court.

The law makes it an offence to:

  • Commit acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with them; or
  • Persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home

It is an offence to do any of the things described above intending, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that they would cause the tenant to leave their home, or stop using part of it, or stop doing the things a tenant should normally expect to be able to do. It is also an offence to take someone's home away from them unlawfully.

Landlords have a responsibility to undertake repairs to your home and will need access to do this. If access is required, a landlord is required to give 24 hours written notice of their intention to enter at what must be a reasonable time. A landlord does not have the right to enter your home without your permission except in an emergency or into communal areas that the landlord is responsible for maintaining; for example, in a block of flats or bedsits.

In most cases, your landlord must give you two months' notice to take possession of the property, unless you are in serious rent arrears (more than eight weeks). In this case, your landlord can issue two weeks' notice that they intend to apply for a possession order from the County Court.  If you do not leave, the landlord may ask for a possession order and if granted, you will be given a period of time within which you must leave; failure to do so may result in the landlord using the court bailiffs to evict you. If the landlord has to apply for a possession order, they may ask the court to require you to pay their legal and court costs.

Even if you have rent arrears or your tenancy agreement has expired, the law will still protect you from illegal eviction and harassment and unless your landlord has a possession order you do not have to leave the property.

Most tenancies are for a set period, example 6 or 12 months long. If a landlord wants you to leave at the end of the period, they will have to serve a section 21 notice on you. This cannot be served until you are 4 months into the tenancy. A Section 21 notice won't be valid if:

  • your deposit hasn't been protected in a government-backed scheme 
  • your deposit was protected but more than 30 days after you paid it (or by 23 June 2015 if you paid your deposit before 6 April 2007, your fixed-term tenancy ended after that date and your tenancy has not been renewed since)
  • the landlord hasn't given you the required information about the scheme they used
  • if your new assured shorthold tenancy started on or after 1 October 2015, or you signed a renewal contract on or after that date and:
    • you complained to your landlord or letting agent in writing (by letter or email) 
    • your landlord issued a section 21 notice after you complained
    • you complained to the local council because your landlord didn't take steps to fix the problem
    • the council sent your landlord a notice telling them to make improvements or that the council will carry out emergency work

You can't be evicted if a Section 21 notice is not valid. 

Advice Services Coventry can help any tenant who is threatened with eviction or being harassed by their landlord. 

If you do not pay your rent, you may put your home at risk.

For further information on the process for different tenancies and leases you can visit the Shelter website

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