Who does this guide apply to?

Private Renters: Y

Social Housing Renters - sometimes 

Lodgers: N

Squatters: N


We are so used to landlords - and the power they have - that they can seem unchallengeable. They make profit from our need for a home, and using the courts and the police, can make us homeless. While the situation for tenants in the UK is dire - and looks to get worse under COVID-19 - we still have rights under the law and community power to protect us.

This sheet deals with Landlord Harassment. If you are having trouble with a Section 21 eviction or Rent Arrears check out our other guides. For ways to fight back without going through the courts, check our Stuff Your Landlord guide.

Relevant Legislation

  • Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (still in force)
  • Rent Act 1977 (for tenancies which began before Jan 1989) 

How does the Coronavirus Act affect this?

If your landlord gave you notice from the 26 March to 28 August 2020, the notice period must have been at least 3 months for all grounds. From 29 August 2020 to 31 March 2021 you get six months with some exceptions, including more than six months’ rent arrears.

Evictions are currently banned until 21 Feb 2021. This means that it is illegal for a landlord, someone acting on behalf of a landlord, or Baillifs to remove you from your home. However, your landlord can still service notice, and apply to the courts for a posession order.

See our other Stuff Your Landlord guides for the specific notice periods affecting the different grounds for eviction under the Coronavirus Act.


  • The equivalent of over 64,000 renters reported that a landlord has cut off their utilities without their consent and almost 50,000 said their belongings had been thrown out of their home and the locks changed
  • Over 600,000 renters have had their home entered by a landlord without permission or notice being given
  • Over 200,000 reported having been abused, threatened or harassed by a landlord
  • Over 110,000 renters felt they had been treated unfairly due to their race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation.

(Shelter, 2016)

First things first - if your landlord wants to evict you

Don’t go anywhere, and don’t allow yourself to be bullied out. The current pause in the courts  and eventual backlog means that - even once your Landlord gets a possession order - it will be some time before they can be legally enforced, and even longer before a court-appointed bailiff will be arranged to try and evict you.

You can use this time to contact a tenants union and plan how to resist. It’s illegal for your landlord to change your locks while you are out - but this doesn’t mean they won’t try it. If you think they might do this it would be wise to leave one person in the property at all times.

What does Landlord Harassment look like?

Landlord harassment isn’t always physical or verbal violence, it can be pretty much anything that unjustifiably interferes with your ‘peace and comfort’. 

What’s more, the harassment can be committed by someone else - maybe they’ve sent a family member, letting agent, or someone intimidating round?

Examples of harassment are:

  • Removing or restricting services like gas, electricity or water, or failing to pay bills so these services are cut off
  • Visiting your home regularly without warning, especially late at night
  • Interfering with your post
  • Threatening you
  • Sending builders round without notice
  • Entering your home when you are not there without your permission
  • Letting your home get into such a bad state that it’s dangerous to stay there
  • Starting disruptive repair works and not finishing them
  • Harassing you because of your gender, race or sexuality

When does harassment become an illegal eviction?

It is illegal eviction if your landlord:

  • Physically throws you out
  • Changes the locks while you’re out
  • Forces you to leave your home because the harassment is so bad

Protection from Eviction Act

People protected by the PEA can only be lawfully evicted by court bailiffs who are enforcing a possession order. Anyone other than this cannot lawfully evict you.

Even so, there are ways of fighting court bailiffs enforcing a possession order: check out this infographic to find out how:

What you are protected from?

Unlawful or attempted unlawful eviction:

Where a landlord (or anyone acting on their behalf) unlawfully deprives a residential occupier of their occupation of the whole or part of the premises.

Unlawful or attempted unlawful eviction:

Where a landlord (or anyone acting on their behalf) unlawfully deprives a residential occupier of their occupation of the whole or part of the premises.


Where a landlord (or anyone acting on their behalf):

  • takes action likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier, or persistently withdraws/withholds services required to live in the premises (see our list above!)
  • Knows or has reasonable cause to believe that their conduct will cause the occupier to give up occupation or the whole or part of the premises or refrain from exercising their rights. (Like constructive dismissal, but for your home).

How does the law enforce this? (Criminal Law)

Unfortunately, it rarely does. The police have the power to prosecute, but they rarely do.

The same is true of local authorities, who lack the resources due to systemic underfunding, and are often unable to support in even the most extreme cases.

However, if the police or local authority do successfully prosecute, the penalties for your landlord could be a maximum of two years in prison, an unlimited fine, and compensation (under Criminal offence s1(2) Prevention from Eviction Act 1977).

What legal claims can you make? (Civil Law)

You could bring a civil claim under unlawful or attempted unlawful eviction and harassment, and/or breach of the terms and conditions of your tenancy. You can claim an injunction requiring your landlord to let you back in, and/or preventing the landlord from continuing to harass you. You can also claim damages. 

Damages can be claimed for: your financial loss, your distress as a result of the eviction or harassment, any particular suffering you experienced and “exemplary” damages where the landlord was trying to avoid court procedures and/or make a profit from illegally evicting you. 

For tenancies that are not assured shorthold tenancies (generally Rent Act 1977 tenancies which started before January 1989), you can claim an additional amount of damages assessed on the difference in value to the landlord with you in possession as against vacant possession. Those additional damages can only be claimed if you have left the property and are not reinstated. Damages can be reduced if your landlord offers to reinstate you and you refuse. 

So ideally, you’d need to make separate claims:

  • Breach of the contractual term giving you right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the property
  • Landlord’s ‘Derogation from Grant’ – this basically means the landlord’s use of common parts or neighbouring premises interferes with the tenant(s) use of their home.

These rights are “implied” by every tenancy agreement (which means they don’t need to be in writing to be enforceable).

Who is not protected by this act?

  • Lodgers (where the landlord or a member of their family lives in the property) 
  • People not paying rent in exchange for accommodation 
  • People granted a right to occupy for a holiday only
  • Homeless people placed in B&B or homeless temporary accommodation by the council pending a decision on their homelessness application
  • Hostel residents where the landlord is a council or housing association and they have a licence not a tenancy
  • Asylum seekers living in asylum support
  • Where the Home Office serves a No Right to Rent Notice on basis of the tenant’s immigrations status 
  • Trespassers (squatters)

Even if you fit into this category you are protected in some ways: 

If you are in the list above’ you can be peaceably evicted by your landlord but only once your tenancy or licence has been lawfully ended (by giving the notice specified in the agreement or reasonable notice if no agreement).

It is a criminal offence (s6(1) Criminal Law Act 1977) to use or threaten violence to gain entry where someone inside the property objects. This includes violence to property, like smashing doors or windows.