What Can I Do If My Landlord Is Harassing Me?
Landlord hassles? You're not alone. Many UK renters have encountered situations where their landlord's behaviour crosses the line into harassment. This can range from incessant unnecessary visits to your rented property to more serious cases like threats or discrimination. Understanding your rights and knowing what to do in these situations is vital. So, let's take a closer look at how you can deal with landlord harassment in the UK.
Understanding Harassment from a Landlord
The term harassment can cover a range of behaviours. According to gov.uk, this can include anything from landlords continually disturbing you to more severe incidents like physical violence. They state 'Harassment can be anything a landlord does, or fails to do, that makes you feel unsafe in the property or forces you to leave.' then goes on to list actions which could be classed as harassment including:
- stopping services, like electricity
- withholding keys, for example there are 2 tenants in a property but the landlord will only give 1 key
- refusing to carry out repairs
- anti-social behaviour by a landlord’s agent, for example a friend of the landlord moves in next door and causes problems
- threats and physical violence
The important thing to remember is that as a tenant, you have rights, and your landlord has legal obligations. Harassment from your landlord is not only unfair but it's also illegal.
Your Rights as a Tenant
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 provides a legal framework that protects tenants from being harassed by landlords. Harassment can include actions like entering your home without permission, cutting off utilities, or repeatedly disturbing you with unnecessary inspections or visits. If you feel like you're being harassed, remember that these actions can be legally actionable. More information can be found on the UK Government's legislation page.
In addition to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, there are several pieces of legislation that cover harassment or the threat of harassment, including:
The Housing Act 1988: This Act primarily deals with landlords and tenants' rights, including specific protections against harassment and illegal eviction. The landlord's behaviour could be seen as an unlawful eviction if they make the property uninhabitable.
The Equality Act 2010: This legislation protects individuals from discrimination, which includes harassment, based on protected characteristics such as age, sex, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment.
The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994: This Act also offers provisions against intentional harassment, which can cause alarm or distress.
The Protection from Eviction Act 1977: This Act makes it an offence to harass a residential occupier with the intent of causing them to leave their home or to discourage them from pursuing any rights or remedies in respect of the home.
Reporting Harassment from Your Landlord
The first step when you're being harassed is to document each incident carefully. Include dates, times, and a detailed description of what happened. Where possible, gather evidence such as letters, emails, or photographs.
If the harassment continues, report it. Depending on the severity of the harassment, you may wish to contact your local council's Anti-social Behaviour Team or even the police. Shelter provides a comprehensive guide on how and where to report harassment from landlords.
Legal Actions You Can Take
If reporting doesn't stop the harassment, you may need to consider legal action. This can include applying for an injunction to prevent your landlord from certain behaviours, or even filing a claim for damages. If you decide to go down this path, consider seeking advice from organisations like Justice For Tenants, Citizens Advice or Shelter to guide you through the process.
Maintaining Your Safety
While dealing with harassment can be stressful, it's crucial to prioritise your safety. If you feel threatened, it's important to contact the Police immediately. Remember that there are support services available to help you navigate through these challenging situations, including domestic abuse charities for those who feel threatened in their own home.
Landlord harassment can be a distressing experience. But by understanding your rights as a tenant, documenting incidents, reporting harassment, and taking legal action where necessary, you can navigate this difficult situation more confidently. Always remember, help is available, and you do not need to deal with harassment on your own.
Call to Action
Dealing with a harassing landlord? We invite you to share your experiences, write a review, help future renters to avoid harassing landlords. For more guidance on tenants rights and responsibilities, don't forget to check out our other articles on related topics.