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Illegal Eviction and Harassment

It is an offence to illegally evict a residential occupier by depriving an individual of their legal right to occupy a property or part of a property.

It is also an offence to harass a residential occupier by disrupting their peace or comfort, having reasonable cause to believe that such conduct is likely to make the occupier leave.

Illegal eviction

In most cases, evicting a tenant of privately rented property requires notice being served and a possession order being obtained from the County Court. The length of notice will depend on the type of tenancy. In some cases, the notice will need to be served on a specific form. An act of illegal eviction occurs when a tenant is deprived of occupation of the premises concerned without the proper legal process being taken.

Please see the advice sections on "Ending an Assured Shorthold Tenancy" or "Notice to Quit and Resident Landlords".

Harassment

The offence of harassment occurs where either the tenant's peace and quiet enjoyment is interfered with or where services reasonably required, (ie, electric, gas, water) are persistently withdrawn. It must also be shown that in either case, the perpetrator had reasonable cause to believe that their conduct was likely to cause the occupier to leave. If the perpetrator is someone other than the landlord or his/her agent, then it must be shown that his or her conduct was intended to make the occupier leave.

Responsibility for prosecution

Swale Borough Council has the power to investigate complaints and take Court proceedings where an offence is believed to have been committed. You can contact one of Swale Borough Council's Housing Officers, contact details are provided at the top right of this page.

The officer will initially take details of your allegations and advise on the best course of action. If the matter is pursued further this may involve making a statement of the alleged incident and then sometimes it will involve appearing in Court as a witness at a later date.

Getting back into a property

If you have been excluded from a property and it is clear that you have a right to occupy, the Officer can try to negotiate with the landlord to let you back in. If this fails, you can consider seeing Citizens' Advice Bureau(CAB), or a private solicitor, who could arrange for injunction proceedings to be brought before the County Court. The Court has the power to order the landlord to allow you back into the property.

More information

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