Unlawful Evictions: know your rights as a tenant

By Momtaz Islam, Solicitor of Senior Courts of England and Wales

Unlawful eviction occurs when a landlord or another person (agent) deprives or attempts to remove a tenant’s or licensee’s occupation of property without following the correct legal procedure. Tenants/licensees need to be aware of specific legal procedures for ceasing occupation of the property. These procedures are dependant upon the type of tenancy and the rights it includes. Understanding these provisions can empower you to protect your rights. This article will delve into these provisions to equip you with the necessary knowledge.

Statutory Claims for Unlawful Eviction and Harassment:


Protection from Eviction Act 1977 (PEA 1977) defines unlawful eviction as stated above.


Sections 1 and 2 of this Act creates offences related to unlawful eviction and harassment of residential occupiers.


Section 3 states that unlawfully evicting specific residential occupiers without a court order is a breach.

However, this does not apply to individuals who are protected by statute and have rights according to particular sections of the Housing Act, such as council tenants (HA 1985), assured tenants (HA 1985) and assured shorthold tenants (HA 1988).

It will only apply to a limited number of tenancies or licences. Section 3 does not apply to excluded occupiers under s3A, such as living with your landlord and etc.

S27 Housing Act 1988 creates a statutory tort based on unlawful eviction and applies where a landlord or a person acting on their behalf:

Attempts unlawfully to deprive the tenants of any premises, either the whole or part of the premises


Knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that there is conduct of the above


Does act likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of the tenant or persistently withdraws or withholds services reasonably required for the occupation of the premises.


Another act that can assist tenants is the Protection from Harassment Act 1977. The remedy for this is obtaining a civil injunction, and if that is breached, this will amount to a criminal offence.


What is harassment?


A course of conduct must involve conduct on at least two occasions
References to harassing a person include alarming or causing the person distress
Conduct includes speech, intimidation, nuisance or procuring harassment by another person.

Examples of harassment:

Kenny v Preen [1963], the Court held that the covenant of quiet enjoyment can be breached without direct physical interference. In this case, the landlord sent letters to tenants threatening physical eviction and removal of belongings. He also called, knocked, and shouted repeatedly.


Khorasandijian v Bush [1993] QB—Harassing telephone calls is a nuisance. It was held that they amounted to a nuisance because they interfered with the tenant’s ordinary use of her home.


Contractual/Tort Claims for Unlawful Evictions


Most tenancy agreements (contract) contain terms that the tenants will enjoy quiet enjoyment of the premises. This means the tenant will have the right to live on the premises without being disturbed by the landlord. If such a term is not within the agreement, then the term will be implied. The landlord’s improper behaviours include threatening to evict if the tenant does not leave and threatening to cut utilities—severe actions such as banging the accommodation doors. Sometimes, the landlord refuses to undertake repairing obligations.


Some claims can be relied upon when bringing under Tort, examples:


Trespass to the person: this can entail violent conduct or threats of violence.
Trespassing to the land can occur when the landlord interferes with the locks or moves items in the property.
Trespass to goods: This involves removing tenants’ belongings from the accommodation and disposing of them.


Sources: Housing Law Handbook by Diane Astin & Housing Law Handbook A Practical Guide by Law Society


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top