What counts as harassment?
- Harassment of occupiers is a criminal offence
- Harassment can be any action your landlord takes to deliberately disrupt your life or make you leave your property
- Harassment can also be committed by someone else, for example the landlord’s family or letting agent
Your right to live in your home without interference
You have the right to live in your home without interference from the landlord or anyone acting on their behalf. If your landlord tries to do this s/he may be guilty of harassment, which is a criminal offence.
What is harassment?
Harassment can include:
- cutting off or restricting gas, electricity or water supply
- visiting your home regularly without notice or agreement
- interfering with your post
- is abusive, threatening or overly persistent about any issue
- sending builders round without notice
- entering your home when you are not there, without your permission (unless there is a genuine emergency)
- beginning disruptive repair works and not finishing them
- harassing you because of your gender, race or sexuality.
- pressuring you to allow viewings by prospective occupiers
- pressuring you to leave after giving you notice
This behaviour may be intended to make you leave your home without your landlord having to follow the proper legal procedures, or it may be for other reasons.
Harassment can be very distressing and might make you feel as though you have no choice other than to move out. Get help immediately if you are in this situation. An adviesr may be able to speak to your landlord and prevent further harassment.
What if a letting agent is harassing me?
Harassment by a letting agent, or by anyone working on behalf of the landlord, is also a criminal offence. If your landlord knows how the agent is behaving, then your landlord could be held equally responsible by law.
Lettings agents dealing with properties in Wales should have a licence under the Rent Smart Wales scheme. If you are being harassed, or have been threatened with illegal eviction by an agent, check the Rent Smart Wales website to see if the agent has a licence and make a complaint so that Rent Smart Wales can investigate it further.
Some agencies belong to trade associations such as:
- Association of Residential Letting Agents
- National Association of Estate Agents
- National Approved Lettings Scheme
Most trade associations have a complaints procedure and some may have a mediation service, which could help to negotiate a solution to the problem. If your agent has behaved illegally, it could be asked to leave the trade association.
What can I do about it?
Take a look at the practical steps we suggest you take here.
Remember, if your landlord is making you feel unsafe in your home or has threatened you with violence, report them to the police by calling 101 or 999 if it is an emergency. Find contact numbers for the police here.
In serious cases, you might be able to get an injunction against the landlord or agent. An injunction is a court order to tell your landlord or agent to stop harassing you. You’ll need the help of a solicitor or adviser to get one. Contact a Shelter Cymru adviser near you who can then refer you to a solicitor in their legal team.
Legal aid is available for injunctions. You may be eligible for legal aid if you claim certain benefits or have a low income. Contact Civil Legal Advice to find out if you qualify for legal aid.
Does it matter what type of renting agreement I have?
If you are an excluded occupier (for example, you have a resident landlord) then your landlord can evict you without getting a court order, but they must not use violence or threats of violence to do so. If you feel threatened by your landlord contact the council’s homelessness team to ask if they can help rehouse you.
If you are
- a periodic standard contract-holder of a private landlord, or
- an occupier with basic protection, or an
- excluded occupier,
your landlord doesn’t need a special legal reason to evict you, so you should get help regarding your housing options. There may be something that an adviser can help you do to stop the harassment and prevent it from occurring again.
Your landlord may choose to serve a ‘no fault’ eviction notice, but if you are a periodic standard contract-holder then they must begin court action to evict you within 2 months of the notice running out. If they don’t begin court action in this time they cannot serve another ‘no fault’ notice for 6 months.
If you have a secure occupation contract or a regulated tenancy you are in a much stronger position as the landlord can’t evict you without a valid legal reason. Get help if you’re not certain what kind of renting agreement you have.