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Harassment and illegal eviction

Last updated on: 16-Oct-2020

Legal Responsibilities of Landlord Protection from Eviction Act 1977

Section 1 - Unlawful Eviction and Harassment

This section makes it unlawful for any person to deprive or attempt to deprive a residential occupier of any premises of occupation of those premises or any part of them. That person is guilty of an offence unless he/she proves that they had reasonable cause to believe that the residential occupier had ceased to reside in those premises.

Similarly, if any person interferes with the peace or comfort of the residential occupier or members of their household, or persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises with the intention of forcing them to give up occupation, or from occupying their rights within those premises, then they shall also be guilty of an offence.

This second paragraph not only applies to landlords but also the agents of landlords.

It is a defence for a landlord or agent to prove that they had reasonable grounds for withdrawing or withholding the services in question.

If a person is found guilty of this offence, then on summary conviction, they are liable to a fine not exceeding level five on the standard scale, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both. On conviction on indictment they will be liable to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.

The provisions of this Section also apply to corporate bodies.

Section 3 - Prohibition of Eviction without Due Process of Law

This section relates to the procedure that landlords have to go through to obtain possession of properties that they have let out under certain tenancy agreements. The most common problem associated with this Section is the procedure for dealing with occupiers that continue to reside in premises where an assured short-hold tenancy has expired.

If an occupier continues to reside despite their agreement running out, then it is unlawful for a landlord to enforce eviction, otherwise than by proceedings in court. In this case only a court can give the right to recover possession and any other forced eviction is unlawful.

Some tenancies are excluded from this Section and you are advised to obtain independent legal advice before beginning possession proceedings.

Section 5 - Notice to Quit

Before obtaining possession of a property landlords in most circumstances have to serve notices to quit on the occupiers.

To be valid, notices to quit need to contain certain prescribed information and give certain lengths of time. This can change according to the type of tenancy that you have agreed with your occupier and it is recommended that you obtain independent legal advice to ensure that the notice to quit that you are giving is valid.

Advice regarding tenancy issues

Shelter Housing Advice Centre
2 Ordnance Street
Chatham
Kent
Tel: 01634 811 166

Gravesham Citizens Advice Bureau
44 Windmill Street
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1BA
Tel: 01474 361 239

Solicitors offering advice under Housing Legal Aid

Neves Scott
Trinity House
82 High Street
Dartford
Kent
DA1 1DE
Tel: 01322 277 732

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