Harassment and Illegal Eviction
Harassment refers to any behaviour by a landlord which interferes with the tenant's ability to enjoy living in his/her home in peace. This behaviour is intended to make the tenant leave the property and can include a wide range of actions, such as intimidation, cutting off (or restricting) access to essential utility services, entering the property without notice or allowing the property to fall into disrepair.
Illegal eviction is where a landlord actually evicts a tenant without following the proper legal process. This can include a landlord simply changing the locks without serving a proper Notice to Quit or obtaining a court order.
In cases of harassment and illegal eviction, the Council will try to negotiate with the landlord to resolve the problems and (in the case of illegal eviction) get you back into the property. However, if this fails, the Council can prosecute a landlord under the Protection from Eviction Act 1997. Both harassment and illegal eviction are criminal offences and a successful prosecution by the Council will result in the landlord receiving a heavy fine or, in very serious cases, being sent to prison.
If you are a landlord and you are unsure of the correct way to legally evict a tenant, you should contact the Council before taking any action. The Council will advise you on the correct procedure to follow to ensure that you do not break the law. A good rule of thumb to remember is that although the property is your bricks and mortar it is your tenant's home and you can only enter by invitation or by court order. The only exception to this rule is in cases of real emergency - flood, fire, etc.
The following links may be helpful: