What is illegal eviction?
- Illegal eviction is a criminal offence
- It is likely to be an illegal eviction if your landlord makes you leave your home without getting a court order
Landlords and letting agents must follow the correct procedure to evict contract-holders. An illegal eviction takes place if a landlord or letting agent makes you leave your home without following the right procedure.
It is likely to be an illegal eviction if your landlord:
- makes you leave without notice or a court order
- locks you out of your home.
Can my landlord do what s/he likes?
No. There are certain actions that nearly always count as illegal eviction. Your landlord may be committing a criminal offence if s/he:
- changes the locks while you are out
- threatens you or forces you to leave
- physically throws you out
- stops you from getting into certain parts of your home.
What is the right procedure to evict me?
The correct procedure for evicting you depends on the type of agreement you have, and the reasons why you are being asked to leave.
In most cases, your landlord has to follow 3 steps:
- Give you a written notice to leave your home
- Apply for a possession order from the county court
- Apply for a warrant to set a date for a Bailiff to evict you
Your landlord should begin by giving you notice that s/he wants you to leave. To find out what kind of notice you should get and how long that notice should give you, see our advice about eviction.
After your notice period has finished, if your landlord would like you to go, s/he has to start court action to get a possession order. If you don’t leave on the day the court says, your landlord must ask the court to issue a bailiff’s warrant.
If your landlord does not use this process they could be illegally evicting you.
Certain occupiers are ‘excluded‘ and do not have the same protection as occupation contract-holders. If you are an excluded occupier you can be evicted without a court order, but the landlord must not use violence or threats of violence to do so.
This includes where you:
- live in the same building as your landlord and share living accommodation (including a bathroom, or kitchen)
- live in holiday accommodation (unless you have been given a standard contract)
- don’t have any legal obligation to pay rent (and, if your home comes with your job, you don’t give your landlord/employer the equivalent money’s worth in unpaid work)
- live in a hostel or other temporary accommodation.
What if I live with my landlord?
If you live with your landlord in her/his home (for example, if you are a lodger), you are likely to be an excluded occupier and only entitled to reasonable notice before you have to leave.
This notice can be given verbally, and should be equal to your rental period (for example, a week, if you pay your rent weekly) unless you have agreed to a different notice period in advance. However, incertain circumstances it may be reasonable to give less notice. For example if you had threatened or used violence against the landlord or a member of their household.
What if my landlord is violent?
If your landlord is making you feel unsafe in your home or has been violent or 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.
If you feel unsafe in your home because of violence or threats of violence from your landlord, your local council may have a duty to rehouse you. Speak to your council about making a homelessness application if you are in this situation. If the council refuses to assist you, get help.
What can I do if I’ve been illegally evicted?
If you are evicted illegally, you should get help as soon as you can:
Speak to a Shelter Cymru adviser
An adviser should be able to:
- tell you whether you have any chance of getting back into your home or reclaiming your belongings and, if so, help you to do so
- help you get support in finding somewhere else to live
- help you take court action against your landlord. You may be able to get an injunction allowing you back into your home, or to claim compensation if you’ve lost out financially.
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.
Contact your local council
The council should be able to give you advice, negotiate with your landlord and prevent you from becoming homeless. For more information on what the council can do, click here and to find the contact details of your local council, click here and enter your postcode – they may have an emergency number to ring outside of office hours.
Contact the police
Many illegal evictions take place after office hours so it can be difficult to get help. Illegal eviction is a criminal offence and the police should be able to help you. Call the police on 101 or 999 if it is an emergency. Find contact numbers for the police here.