The Manchester Evening News reported recently that a woman had come home from her holiday to find her house had been stripped bare by a local housing association. Unfortunately this story is not all that unique. However, in this instance there had been a mix-up as the housing association were not even the woman’s landlords. The housing association have since confirmed they have put the matter right.
Many landlords evict tenants unlawfully by changing the locks and removing their belongings from the property without previously serving a valid Notice to obtain possession and obtaining a Court Order to evict them.
A landlord cannot just evict a tenant whenever they choose to, even if the tenant is in rent arrears or has been acting in breach of their tenancy agreement. There are a number of lawful ways a landlord can go about evicting a tenant, all with different procedural requirements and potential defences.
An eviction will be unlawful if the landlord has not served a valid Notice to quit, obtained a Court Order giving possession back to the landlord and then obtained a Warrant of Eviction. Changing the locks and removing a tenant’s deposit will almost always be unlawful.
At Stephensons our specialist housing team can assist a tenant who has been unlawfully evicted or is being threatened with unlawful eviction. We can negotiate with their landlord, assist them in getting back into their property and getting their belongings back. We can also assist in pursuing their landlord for compensation for any items lost or damaged and the inconvenience caused by the landlord’s unlawful behaviour.
By Jessica Knott, graduate paralegal in the housing law team