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What is Landlord Harassment?

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With tenancies hard to find, tenants are understandably wary of complaining about their landlord’s behaviour and facing a Section 21 no-fault eviction. However, if a landlord’s behaviour amounts to harassment a tenant may have little option but to complain.

In this blog, our Landlord and Tenant Solicitors look at what amounts to landlord harassment.

UK Online and London-Based Landlord and Tenant Solicitors 

For advice on landlord and tenant law or to book a consultation call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

The law on landlord harassment?

The law on landlord harassment is contained in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This piece of legislation is designed to give rights and remedies to tenants against unscrupulous or bullying landlords. However, some landlords’ behaviour can be reasonable in the circumstances but their tenants can perceive the landlord’s behaviour to be harassing. That’s why our Landlord and Tenant Solicitors get inquiries from both tenants and landlords on harassment.

What is the definition of landlord harassment?

Harassment is widely defined in the 1977 Act and includes any action by a landlord that is classed as likely to interfere with a tenant's peace and comfort in their rental property.

The 1977 Act makes it a criminal offence for a landlord (or their agent) to make a tenant:

  • Leave their tenancy early
  • Surrender or give up their tenancy rights

The landlord’s agent could be a letting agent or any third party instructed by the landlord.

What amounts to landlord harassment?

A landlord insisting that a gas safe check needs to be carried out at their rental property is not harassment unless the communication gets insulting and out of control. A landlord needs to push for this type of check to be carried out because if the landlord fails to get a professional in to carry out the safety check the landlord would be in breach of the law.

A landlord may want possession of their property. That may even be understandable if a tenant has not paid their rent and the landlord has a mortgage to pay on the property or if the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy agreement and is being a nuisance to all their neighbours resulting in the landlord receiving lots of complaints. Whatever the reasons a landlord wants possession of their property they must act within the law and not harass their tenant.

Examples of harassment include:

  • Intimidating behaviour or threats
  • Tenant discrimination. For example, racial or LGBT discrimination
  • Requesting money that is not owed
  • Trying to force the tenant out before the end of their tenancy agreement without having court authority to do so or a warrant for possession
  • Entering the tenanted property without the tenant’s agreement
  • Removing the tenant’s belongings without authority
  • Cutting off essential supplies, like water or electricity
  • Changing the locks without authority

If you are a tenant who is unsure if your landlord’s behaviour amounts to harassment then it is best to take legal advice. Likewise, a landlord should check that what they are doing is legal and does not amount to harassment. For example, a landlord can enter a property in an emergency without their tenant’s agreement. The most obvious example is when a neighbour reports a smell of gas. The landlord cannot enter the property to cut off the gas because the rent has not been paid.

What can a landlord do if their tenant has not paid their rent?

A landlord needs to let a tenant know that the rent is unpaid and to seek an explanation. However, rent arrears do not allow a landlord to bombard a tenant with demands for payment or to frequently doorstep the tenant to catch the tenant off guard. The best advice for both landlords and tenants is to keep all communications civil and with an eye to the fact that a tenant could claim harassment or a landlord could start eviction proceedings.

What can a landlord do if their tenant is in breach of the tenancy agreement?

There is an adage that ‘’Two wrongs don’t make a right’’. That’s true when it comes to a tenant being in breach of their tenancy agreement and a landlord’s harassment of the tenant. The fact that the tenant was in the wrong first does not allow the landlord to behave unreasonably or to take direct action because they are frustrated by the delay in securing an eviction order for possession.

As Landlord and Tenant Solicitors, we see many situations where the relationship between landlord and tenant has completely broken down resulting in allegations of harassment. Sometimes the allegations are made after fairly appalling behaviour by a landlord. At other times a landlord may appear to have been the victim of allegations of harassment or discrimination by a tenant for them to try and gain some sympathy and protection despite their non-payment of rent or the tenant’s anti-social behaviour to other tenants in an apartment block.

Our team of experts can look at any harassment allegations or counter-allegations as well as the underlying cause of any tenancy repair dispute. That may be a landlord’s failure to sort out mould growth leading to the tenant withholding rent and the landlord going around to have ‘’words’’ with the tenant and things spiralling out of control.

At OTS Solicitors our specialist team of Landlord and Tenant Solicitors are committed to resolving all tenancy disputes and harassment claims as quickly as possible so a landlord and tenant can move on. That may result in a letter before action or even possession proceedings but we will do our best to resolve matters quickly.

UK Online and London-Based Landlord and Tenant Solicitors 

For advice on landlord and tenant law or to book a consultation call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.


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