Unlawful Eviction – What is it, and what can be done?



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What is unlawful eviction?

Unlawful eviction refers to the illegal removal or exclusion of a tenant or residential occupier from their rented property by a landlord without following the proper legal procedures.

This act is a serious offense and is governed by several laws designed to protect tenants’ rights. Understanding these regulations is crucial for both landlords and tenants to ensure that actions taken are lawful and that any disputes are handled correctly.

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 is the primary legislation that outlines the rules against unlawful eviction. According to this act, it is illegal for a landlord to forcefully evict a tenant without a court order. Additionally, the Housing Act 1988, as amended by the Housing Act 1996, provides further protections and details the lawful process that must be followed for eviction.

Definition of unlawful eviction

Unlawful eviction is when a landlord unlawfully deprives a tenant from occupation of the premises or any part thereof. It encompasses various actions, including:

  • Changing the locks on the property while the tenant is out.
  • Physically removing the tenant or their belongings without legal proceedings.
  • Harassment that forces the tenant to leave the property voluntarily.

Unlawful eviction and harassment can occur in both private and social housing sectors and affects all types of residential tenancies.

How to legally evict a tenant

For an eviction to be lawful, landlords must adhere to the following steps:

  • Provide notice: Landlords must serve a valid written notice to the tenant. The type of notice depends on the tenancy agreement and the grounds for eviction. For example, a Section 21 notice is used for ‘no-fault’ evictions in assured shorthold tenancies, while a Section 8 notice is based on specific breaches of the tenancy, such as rent arrears.
  • Apply for a Possession Order: If the tenant does not leave by the date specified in the notice, the landlord must apply to the county court for a possession order. This legal document is required to proceed with the eviction legally.
  • Obtain a Warrant for Possession: If the tenant still remains in the property after a possession order is granted, the landlord can apply for a warrant for possession, allowing bailiffs to legally remove the tenant.

Consequences of Unlawful Eviction

  • Criminal charges: Unlawful eviction can lead to criminal prosecution under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Convicted landlords may face fines or imprisonment.
  • Civil claims: Tenants may also pursue civil claims for damages due to illegal eviction, which can result in substantial compensation payments.

Tenant rights and protections

Tenants who believe they are being unlawfully evicted should:

  • Seek legal advice: Contact a solicitor or local advice agencies such as Citizens Advice.
  • Contact the police: If forcefully removed from the property, tenants can contact the police, as unlawful eviction is a criminal offense.
  • Apply for a Court Injunction: This can stop the eviction or allow the tenant to return to the property if they have already been evicted.

How can ARC Costs Assist?

At ARC Costs, we maintain an extensive legal network of expert Solicitors. If you intend to pursue an unlawful eviction claim, please do not hesitate to get in touch and we would be happy to pass on your query.

ARC Costs can assist will all aspects of claiming or defending unlawful eviction costs claims.

ARC Costs are a team of independent and experienced Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers who regularly assist you in the recovery/contention of costs.

We can assist in fixed recoverable costs cases and cases where costs are awarded on the standard basis, including the preparation/challenging of Bills of Costs, conducting of detailed assessment proceedings, and the preparation of Points of Dispute/Reply.

Should you require our assistance or have any further queries regarding costs, please contact us on 01204 397 302 or email one of the team at info@arccosts.co.uk.

We may receive payments from third party solicitors on our panel to whom we may refer your claim. We will never charge you for any referrals made to our panel of third parties.


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01204 397302


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