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How to deal with an illegal eviction by a private landlord

Check if you're being illegally evicted

Your landlord must follow a legal eviction process if they want you to leave. They must send you a valid notice in writing. If you do not leave, they must get a tribunal order.

It’s an illegal eviction if your landlord tries to force you to leave without valid notice and a tribunal order. Illegal eviction is also sometimes called unlawful eviction.

Illegal eviction is a criminal offence. Your landlord can be prosecuted by the police, fined, or in some cases imprisoned.

If you’re evicted illegally, you can claim compensation at a tribunal.

Examples of illegal eviction

It’s an illegal eviction if your private landlord or anyone acting on their behalf:

  • changes the locks while you're out

  • physically removes you from your home

  • forces you to leave by threatening or harassing you

  • cuts off your electricity, gas or water supply

  • makes your living situation so unbearable that you leave

  • stops you from getting into parts of your home

If you’re being forced out by someone you live with

Check our guidance on:

Check the legal eviction process

If you've been given a written eviction notice, check if it's valid. The rules depend on your tenancy type:

Even if you've been given a valid eviction notice, you do not have to move out. You have the right to stay and challenge the eviction at a tribunal.

It's illegal for your landlord to force you out before the tribunal has made a decision.

Get evidence of illegal eviction

Keep copies of texts or emails your landlord sends.

Keep a diary of what they say or do.

This will help if you need to:

  • report them to the council or the police

  • get your deposit back after an illegal eviction

  • claim compensation

If your landlord harasses you

Harassment is when your landlord interferes with your peace or comfort in your home.

Not all harassment leads to an illegal eviction. It’s still serious and it can be a criminal offence.

Harassment by your landlord can include:

  • coming to your home without telling you first

  • removing or interfering with your belongings

  • demanding money that you do not owe or cannot pay

Check our guidance on how to deal with landlord harassment.

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