Eviction and harassment

If you are a tenant living in rented property, or an owner living in your own property, you have a right to live in it free from harassment.

The law allows tenants to be evicted in certain circumstances – for example, where you are in rent arrears or have breached other terms of your tenancy agreement. However, evictions must follow a legal process. If you are threatened with eviction, you have a right to legal protection.

Local authority and housing association landlords and, in most cases, private landlords, must also follow specific legal procedures if they want to evict you.

Example

A tenant of a house has recently been diagnosed with AIDS. His landlord gives him a week’s notice to leave the house, although he is not in arrears of rent or otherwise in breach of his tenancy. This is likely to be unlawful.

If you live in a rented home and the landlord does something that interferes with your right to live there in order to try to make you leave, this could count as harassment. Examples of harassment include verbal or physical attack, damage to your property, and written threats.

Harassment can also be a criminal offence.  If violence is used against you, or you fear that violence may be used, you should contact the police.

It can be difficult to take action after you have been evicted, so it is important to seek advice as soon as your landlord tells you that they are going to evict you.

Find out more about harassment and eviction.

Local authorities are legally required to deal with harassment against their tenants on the grounds of a tenant’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or religion or belief (or that of any member of their household).  This can include re-housing the household or evicting the harassers if they are also tenants of the local authority.

Other social landlords will have anti-harassment clauses in their tenancy agreements and will deal with harassment in a similar way to local authorities.

Your tenancy agreement should contain terms that forbid you, members of your household and your visitors from behaving in ways that could amount to harassment or other types of anti-social behaviour. The same terms apply to other tenants of your landlord. Breaking these terms can result in eviction.

To help your social landlord deal with harassment, you should report incidents to your housing officer, who can advise you about any action they can take.

Public authorities have general and specific legal duties to promote disability equality. It is unlawful for a local authority landlord or a housing action trust to evict or harass you because you are disabled or have a health problem. They cannot, for example:

  • refuse to let you keep a guide dog or other assistance dog
  • charge you more rent or make you pay a larger deposit than other tenants
  • include terms in your tenancy agreement which are not included in a non-disabled person’s agreement
  • make you wait longer on a council or housing association waiting list because you have a disability
  • give you a less secure tenancy than they would otherwise have done if you were not disabled.

Similar rules will apply to housing associations that are regulated by the Housing Corporation.

Example

The owner of a site where a group of Irish Travellers is living deliberately cuts off the water supply to the site, with the intention of encouraging them to abandon their caravans or leave the site.

Irish Travellers are a racial group protected under the Race Relations Act. The action of the site owner is unlawful racial discrimination, and the owner is liable to legal action for racial harassment.

Last Updated: 24 Jun 2009