How to deal with an illegal eviction by a private landlord

What to do if you’re being illegally evicted

Warn your landlord that what they’re doing is illegal. Tell them about the consequences of illegal eviction.

Only do this if you feel safe doing so. You can get help from the council and police to stop an illegal eviction if you need it.

Write to your landlord

Tell them that:

  • they’re not following the legal eviction process

  • illegal eviction is a criminal offence

  • they can be punished for illegal eviction

Use our illegal eviction letter template so you know what to say.

Template: tell your landlord they cannot illegally evict you

Copy and paste this sample text and personalise it with your details.


Subject: warning about illegal eviction

I have a legal tenancy agreement and a right to occupy my home.

You have told me to leave by <the date your landlord told you to leave>. You have not followed the correct legal process to evict me.

I've checked my rights on the Shelter Scotland website. I'm protected from illegal eviction by Section 22 of the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984.

If you force me out on the above date, this is an illegal eviction.

Illegal eviction is a criminal offence, punishable by fine and imprisonment. Police Scotland can prosecute you for it. I can also pursue you for civil damages.

<your name>


You can also download the letter to send as an email attachment or through the post:

Get help from the council

Contact the council’s housing team. Tell them:

  • you have a legal right to occupy the property

  • you’re facing illegal eviction or experiencing harassment

  • you want to report your landlord to the council’s private housing team

  • you may need to make a homeless application to get emergency accommodation

The council can contact your landlord to try to prevent the illegal eviction.

Search for your council's contact details on mygov.scot

Contact the police

To report your concerns about being illegally evicted, call the police on 101. Say:

  • you’re reporting a potential criminal offence

  • you’re concerned your landlord is going to illegally evict you

  • you need a crime reference number to report it if it happens

If you need the police to help you right now, call 999.

The police should intervene and stop your landlord if they try to force you out or physically remove you.

If the police will not help you

Sometimes the police say that eviction is a civil matter, which means they do not have to deal with it. This is incorrect.

Tell them you have read your rights and you know that it’s a criminal offence.

Show the police this on your phone, or read it out to them.

I've checked my rights on the Shelter Scotland website.

Illegal eviction is a criminal offence under Section 22 of the Rent Scotland Act 1984. Breaking this law is punishable by a fine or imprisonment under Section 23 of the same act.

The landlord has not got an eviction order from the court or tribunal. Only sheriff officers can evict me by enforcing an eviction order.

Because my landlord is threatening to force me out or has forced me out, they’re committing a criminal offence.

Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser if you:

  • cannot get the police to help you

  • do not want to contact the police yourself

You can make a complaint about the police if they do not help you. If you want to do this, ask for the names and badge numbers of those involved. Keep a record of when you contact them and what they say.

Making a complaint takes time and you can do this at a later date.

If your landlord comes to your home without permission

Ask a friend or family member to be there for support.

Tell your landlord:

  • they cannot turn up unannounced and without your permission

  • they must give you written notice

  • you’re entitled to refuse them entry

Unless it's an emergency, you should get at least 24 hours' warning before they come round. If you have a private residential tenancy, you should get 48 hours.

Template: tell your landlord not to come to your home

Copy and paste this sample text and personalise it with your details.


Subject: visits without permission or notice

I’m writing to you about unannounced visits to my home at <your address>.

You must give me written notice of <24 hours / 48 hours>. You can only visit at reasonable times of day.

You can only enter my home with my permission. You cannot enter my home to remove me or my belongings.

Visiting without notice or entering without my permission breaches my right to peace and comfort in my home. It counts as harassment under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984.

I will report you to the council and police if this continues.

Please only communicate with me by <email / text message> in future.

<your name>


You can also download the letter to send as an email attachment or through the post:

If you think your landlord will change the locks

Your landlord cannot enter your home to change the locks.

If you think they’ll do this, use this sign on your door.

Template: illegal eviction warning sign for your front door

TO THE LANDLORD OR ANYONE ACTING ON THEIR BEHALF

You are hereby requested to:

STOP ANY ACTION LEADING TO THE EVICTION OF THE OCCUPIERS OF THIS PROPERTY

Unlawful eviction is a criminal offence, under Section 22 of the Rent Scotland Act 1984

Any further direct action by you to remove the occupiers by force or otherwise constitutes

A CRIMINAL OFFENCE

This includes changing the locks, or removing the occupant or their belongings

The potential penalties include fines, imprisonment, and civil action for damages


You can also download the sign to print out:

Changing the locks yourself

This can stop your landlord entering your home or forcing you out.

Before you do this, check if your tenancy agreement says anything about changing locks. There could be terms that say you cannot do this without your landlord's permission.

Keep the old locks, so you can have them changed back when you move out.

Template: tell your landlord you’ve changed the locks

Copy and paste this sample text and personalise it with your details.


Subject: changing the locks to my home

I’ve changed the locks to my home at my own expense.

I’ve kept the original locks, which will be reinstated when my tenancy lawfully ends and I move out.

If you need access to the property for an inspection or to check for repairs before then, you can arrange access with me at a time that is both suitable and reasonable.

<your name>


You can also download the letter to send as an email attachment or through the post:

Last updated: 3 October 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England