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Illegal Evictions: Know Your Rights

Shelter Scotland together with Police Scotland, Crimestoppers Scotland and Scottish Association of Landlords campaigned from October 2014 until March 2015 to raise awareness about illegal evictions in the private rented sector. We visited several cities in Scotland to talk to tenants and landlords.

We want to ensure that tenants and landlords know that illegally evicting a tenant is a criminal offence and that an illegal eviction should be reported to the police. Under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984 it is a criminal offence for a landlord or anyone else to evict a tenant without a court order.

Many tenants and landlords are unaware that the following actions may be illegal and can result in a landlord committing a criminal offence:

  • Changing the locks to keep the tenant out of the property
  • Making life so uncomfortable for a tenant that they are forced to leave their home by for example cutting off water, gas or electricity supplies
  • Constantly turning up at their home late at night
  • Physically removing a tenant from the property, only a sheriff officer may do this.

This applies to all kinds of tenants, no matter what kind of tenancy or occupancy agreement they have. Most tenants can only be evicted if their landlord gets an order for possession from the court. For more information go to

Landlords and tenants both have rights and responsibilities. It's important that they both take the required steps to ensure tenancies are managed properly. This will ensure that serious problems like illegal evictions which can lead to homelessness are avoided.

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