Eviction, harassment and illegal eviction

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Please be aware that under current COVID-19 legislation, no tenant may be evicted by bailiffs between 17th November 2020 and 11th January 2021 except in very limited cases, including antisocial behaviour or 9 months' rent arrears accrued before 23rd March 2020.

Evictions

Evictions have to follow the correct legal process. How this process looks and what your rights are will depend on the type of tenancy you have. The majority of private rental tenants have assured shorthold tenancies, which generally must follow the following eviction process:

  • Written notice - To start the eviction process, the landlord must provide their tenant with valid, written notice that they are seeking possession. This provides a timescale for the tenant to sort their affairs and find alternative accommodation. Written notice will be in the form of a Section 21 (no fault eviction) or Section 8 notice
  • Possession order - If a notice period comes to an end and a tenant has not vacated, the landlord must apply for an order of possession from the courts. Until such an order is granted, the tenant cannot be made to leave the property
  • Warrant for possession - If the tenant still does not leave a landlord may apply for a warrant for possession. If obtained this allows the landlord to use bailiffs to remove the tenant from the property
  • Writ of possession - A landlord may wish to apply to transfer the warrant for possession from the jurisdiction of the County Court to the High Court by obtaining a 'writ of possession'. This means a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) can now be used to evict the tenant, which usually leads to a faster eviction.

How to get support if you're being evicted

If you have been served an eviction notice or are undergoing an eviction, you can get help and independent housing advice from:

Harassment and illegal eviction

What is landlord harassment?

It is illegal for your landlord to harass you or force you to leave your home. A landlord or agent who does so may be liable for prosecution, which could result in a prison sentence or a fine, along with civil damages.

Harassment can be any action your landlord or agent takes to deliberately disrupt your life or make you leave your property. Examples of this can include:

  • Threats, abuse or physical violence
  • Entering your home without permission or sending builders in without notice or at anti-social hours
  • Withholding or restricting services such as access to hot water or heating
  • Preventing access or withholding keys
  • Anti-social behaviour from the landlord’s Agent
  • Failure to carry out repairs, or non-completion of repairs
  • Forcing the occupier(s) to sign agreements which take away their legal rights
  • Opening your post or removing your belongings
  • Abusing you because of your gender, race, sexuality, religion, or disability.

What is illegal eviction?

Any action which stops a tenant accessing all or part of the property, without first following the correct legal steps, is an unlawful eviction. Examples of this can include:

  • Changing the locks
  • Forcing you to leave by threatening or harassing you
  • Using physical violence to remove you from the property
  • Stopping you from accessing certain parts of the property
  • Forcing you to leave your home because the harassment is so bad (see above).

What can you do?

  • Keep records of all dealings and disputes with your landlord or agent. Tell them to put all communications with you in writing and do the same yourself. Keep copies.
  • Get further advice from Shelter (external link) or Citizen’s Advice (external link).
  • Contact a legal professional to apply for a civil injunction (a court order to tell your landlord to stop his actions) and/or compensation. Depending on your income, you may qualify for legal aid
  • Report the landlord to Wigan Council - see below
  • Report your landlord to the police if they make you feel unsafe in your home, threatens you with violence or is violent

What can we do?

If you have reported the harassment and/or illegal eviction to us using our online form, there are a number of ways we can assist you:

What we can and cannot do
What we CAN doWhat we CANNOT do
Offer general advice and help to the tenant about evictions and harassment Give the tenant personal legal advice or representation
Speak to the landlord on the tenant’s behalf to try and resolve the issue amicably Prosecute a landlord without substantial and sufficient evidence
Liaise, with the tenant’s permission, with external agencies to help resolve the issue Arrest or detain a landlord
If evidence is robust and irrefutable, and it is in the public interest to do so, we may prosecute the landlord. If we prosecute, as the tenant, you will be required to provide substantial evidence and will usually have to give testimony in court.  
If you have been left homeless by an illegal eviction, we may have a statutory duty to temporarily provide housing for you - see homelessness.  

How do I report harassment or an illegal eviction?

To report harassment or an illegal eviction to Wigan Council, or to get some much needed advice about your eviction, you can:

If you are homeless or will be homeless soon due to an unlawful eviction, visit our homelessness section to get support.

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