My landlord is harrassing me - tips on what to do
Believe it or not many landlords still do not understand tenants’ rights and genuinely believe they can enter their rented property when they like. They use excuses such as you are behaving badly, upsetting the neighbours, maybe not paying rent or not looking after the property properly.
Harassment, especially for women and vulnerable tenants can be quite terrifying. If you suffer harassment you should seek legal assistance as soon as possible.
The law states that during the tenancy the tenant has rights to live there uninterrupted and there should be a clause in the tenancy agreement to this effect. Any clause that says anything different, specifically allowing the landlord entry without your permission, or without a court order is illegal and can be considered void. This is usally something like ..”“The landlord will allow the tenant peaceful enjoyment of the property during the term without unreasonable interruption from the Landlord or the landlords agent “. It means is that the landlord must allow the tenant to live in the property without interference from the landlord.
If a landlord breaches this clause (often called a covenant) you can bring a claim in the county court seeking financial compensation or damages, and an injunction either to let you back into the property if you have been evicted or stop the harassment.
What is classed as harassment?
Being Physically Evicted. Physical eviction where you are locked out of the property and maybe your possessions are destroyed thrown out too…or at least in bin bags in the garden.
Intimidating behaviour towards you. Is your landlord shouting at you for any reason or threatening in anyway, maybe because you haven’t paid the rent, then this or any other behaviour which puts you in fear can be classed as harrasment.
Cutting off essential services. This is where the landlord arranges for one or more of the essential services, such as gas, water or electricity to be cut off, maybe because you haven’t paid the rent or simply to annoy you
Entering your home without your consent. This a common problem. As explained earlier , many landlords do not understand that once a property has been let they cannot just go in and out as they want.
Damaging the property.This can be where the landlord does something to damage the property to force you to move out.
Refuses to do essential maintenance to the property. If your landlord fails to repair the boiler or other items that as a landlord is obliged to under repairing covenants of section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. This defines what a landlord MUST maintain at the property, such as the structure and exterior of the property and the installations for services, space and water heating.
The two occasions when your landlord can enter the property without your specific invitation as both are implied (if not included) in your tenancy agreement and comply with the law. One is when carrying out the regular inspection visits (where they have to give you at least 24 hours notice in writing) or if there is a proven emergency. If you object to a particular appointment date or time, then the landlord cannot enter the property at that time, however , you cannot be always unreasonable about this and don’t forget, if you don’t let your landlord in to inspect the property its difficult to complain later about repairs being done.
What you can do. First immediately inform the landlord or the landlords agent of your concerns about the unacceptable behaviour and that it is to stop immediately and that if it doesn’t you will get lawful assistance. Put it in writing and send it recorded delivery. Keep a record of it. If this doesn’t stop the problem its best to go and see the Tenancy Relations Officer or Housing Advisor at your Local Authority, who are empowered to enforce the provisions of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. They will write to your landlord for you, and if necessary bring a prosecution at the Magistrates Court. Often a landlord is not aware of breaking the law, and a letter from the Local Authority usually works. In many cases of harassment you mayb be entitled to claim compensation from the landlord for this behaviour, however if you are thinking of this you should get legal advice before taking any action. Free legal advice can be obtained from the Citizens Advice Bureau. If you are on benefit or a low income you may be entitled to free legal aid. If you have a financial claim, some solicitors firms may be prepared to act for you on a ‘no win no fee’ basis.
www.adviceguide.org.uk -This is a web-site run by the Citizens Advice Bureau.
www.shelter.org.uk - This is a national housing charity. You can use the web-site to find your local office where you can go and get help and advice.
www.victimsupport.com - This is a national charity which helps people affected by crime. If you have suffered serious criminal harassment then this service can help you recover from the experience.