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.
Remember: The fact that your landlord owns your home does not give her/him, or anyone acting on her/his behalf, a right to harass you.
Examples of harassment
Harassment can take a number of different forms, for example:
- removing or restricting access to services such as gas, electricity or water, or failing to pay the bills so that these services are cut off
- visiting your home regularly without warning, especially late at night
- interfering with your post
- threatening you
- sending builders round without notice
- entering your home when you are not there, without your permission
- beginning disruptive repair works and not finishing them
- harassing you because of your gender, race or sexuality.
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. This is not the case – harassment is in fact a serious criminal offence.
What if a letting agent is harassing me?
If you rent your home privately, your landlord may have employed a letting agency to look after the property on her/his behalf. Harassment or illegal eviction by an agent, or by anyone working on behalf of the landlord, are also criminal offences. If your landlord knows how the agent is behaving, then your landlord could be held equally responsible by law.
Most 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, if so, 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?
If your landlord (or agent) is harassing you, there are steps you can take:
Ask your landlord to put all communications with you in writing or email. Do the same yourself and keep/save copies. That way, you will have a record of all dealings with your landlord and of any disputes as they happen.
Keep records of any important dates and save relevant photos or videos.
If you do decide to take action against your landlord, any records you keep will be useful evidence.
Contact your landlord
Write to your landlord to ask them to stop the harassment. If this doesn’t work, write to them saying that if the harassment continues you will take legal action.
Talk to your council
Contact a tenancy relations officer at your local council or someone with similar duties. They could speak to your landlord on your behalf or take action against them.
The council’s homelessness department may help you with emergency accommodation if you’re forced to leave your home because of harassment.
Report your landlord to the police
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.
Get an injunction
An injunction is a court order that requires someone to do something or stop doing something. 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.
Have someone with you as a witness whenever you see your landlord.
Does it matter what type of tenancy I have?
All residential occupiers are given protection by the law against harassment and illegal eviction. But if you’re an assured shorthold tenant of a private landlord, or an occupier with basic protection, or an ‘excluded occupier’, for example you have a resident landlord, your landlord doesn’t need a special legal reason to evict you, so you should get advice regarding your housing options before you challenge her/him, as to do so may put your home at risk.
If you have an assured tenancy or a regulated tenancy you are in a much stronger position as the landlord can’t evict you without a valid legal reason. Get advice if you’re not certain what kind of tenancy you have.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.