Unlawful eviction – is it worth the risk?

Reports this week suggest that the number of tenants accusing their landlord of unlawful eviction has risen by nearly 50 per cent in a year. But with the lawful route sometimes taking months from beginning to end, is it any wonder that some landlords are taking shortcuts?

Under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 it is an offence for a landlord to unlawfully deprive a residential occupier of the premises that they occupy. This unlawful deprivation can take the form of the landlord re-entering the property and changing the locks, or harassing or otherwise intimidating the tenant in a way which forces them to leave the property.

In order to legally evict a tenant, a landlord should serve them with the requisite notice. If the tenant does not vacate in accordance with that notice, the landlord should issue a claim for possession in the County Court. If the tenant still does not vacate, a Court appointed bailiff will then need to be instructed to attend the property to lawfully evict the tenant. Following this process is the only legal way of evicting a tenant who does not agree to leave the property voluntarily.

Our property litigation specialist Stefania Bennett offers the following advice. “Whilst it can often be frustrating for landlords to have to adhere to this lengthy process, it is imperative that the correct legal procedure is followed. If a landlord is found to have unlawfully evicted their tenant, the tenant will have the right to bring a civil claim against their landlord for loss and damage, which can often amount to thousands of pounds in value. Unlawfully evicting a tenant may give the landlord their property back quickly, but it is more than likely going to cost them substantially in the long term.”

If you are a residential landlord looking to regain possession of your property, telephone Stefania on 01905 677057 or email her at sbennett@thursfields.co.uk to discuss the most efficient way of lawfully taking back your property.

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