Harassment and Illegal Eviction
If, as a tenant, your landlord is threatening to evict you without a court order or is harassing you with the intention of making you leave your home you should contact the Private Sector Housing Team.
If your landlord takes any action such as coming into your property without permission, threatening or harming you or your family or attempting to remove your belongings from your home this may constitute a criminal offence and you should immediately contact your local police station.
Dartford Borough Council is an enforcing authority for the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and does not hesitate in using powers to investigate circumstances and prosecute landlords where clear breaches of the legislation exist.
If, as a landlord, you wish to discuss your obligations under the Act, please do not hesitate to contact the Private Housing Section. The importance of a thorough understanding of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 cannot be emphasised enough and if you, in particular, are entering into proceedings to evict your tenants then you should obtain independent legal advice.
Private Sector Housing will investigate all complaints about harassment or illegal eviction which are referred to us.
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.