How can a landlord evict an occupier lawfully?
Normally, if you rent a house, flat or a room, your landlord will have to give you a valid notice in writing. A landlord would normally give you notice for the following:
• Anti Social Behaviour
• Rent arrears
• Landlord wants to sell the property
This notice will vary depending on what tenancy you have but is normally 2 months. Your landlord then needs to obtain a Possession Order from the County Court before you vacate. You may be able to defend these proceedings in court so that you can stay in your home. You could ask organisations such as Shelter or CAB for help like this. If you are in any doubt about your rights in your accommodation, or if you have been given a written or verbal notice to leave and wish to check if the notice is correct you can contact the Homeless Section.
What is illegal eviction?
This happens when your landlord or any other person, forces you, or attempts to force you, to leave your accommodation without following the correct legal procedure.
You might be illegally evicted if:
• Your landlord changes the locks while you are out or stops you from getting into your home;
• Your landlord makes life so uncomfortable for you that you are forced to leave your home;
• You are physically removed from the property by a person who is not a bailiff employed by the county court.
What can I do about illegal eviction?
Illegal eviction is a serious civil and criminal offence. The courts may be able to force your landlord to allow you back into your home. The courts can also impose fines and award compensation in extreme cases. If you are illegally evicted you may be able to:
• contact the council's Homeless Section for help in negotiating with your landlord;
• force re-entry (as long as it is safe and legal to do so);
• get an injunction from the county court allowing you back home;
• claim compensation for the losses you have suffered.
Negotiate with your landlord
If your landlord has illegally evicted you or is attempting this you should inform them (in writing if necessary) that this action is illegal. Many landlords are not aware of the law and may not realise they are acting illegally. You could ask your landlord to:
• Allow you back into the property;
• Stop trying to evict you illegally;
• Stop harassing you;
• Return your belongings.
Tell your landlord that if this doesn't happen you will take further action. Get help from an advice centre such as your local Citizens Advice Bureau or the Homeless Section. It is often useful to have an independent witness (such as an adviser or friend) in case you need evidence later. Keep copies of any letters you send to or receive from your landlord.
Taking court action
If negotiation with your landlord fails you may be able to take action in the county court to get back into your accommodation. The court has the power to give you an emergency injunction, which will force the landlord to let you back into your home. The court may also award compensation. If you require further assistance with this, please contact the Homeless Section.
If you are a Housing Association tenant and facing eviction, talk to your housing officer as soon as possible. They can advise you in the best way to deal with your situation. Alternatively speak to an independent advisor at Shelter or CAB who will be able to assist.