Research carried out by the Citizens Advice Bureau shows that there has been a 50 per cent rise in tenants seeking help following an illegal eviction.
In order to obtain possession of a property a landlord must first serve a valid notice seeking possession and then obtain a possession order from the court. It is not sufficient for the landlord just to obtain a possession order, it must also be properly enforced by a County Court Bailiff of High Court Enforcement Officer.
If a landlord simply changes the locks at the property or forcibly removes the tenant themselves they have carried out an illegal eviction and could face criminal prosecution by the local authority.
It may also be considered to be an illegal eviction if the landlord forces the tenant to leave by threatening or harassing them.
If a landlord attends the property and tries to forcibly evict a tenant without following the correct procedure the tenant should call the police. The tenant should also report this to the local authority who may take steps to prosecute the landlord.
If a tenant finds that they have already been illegally evicted from a property they must seek legal advice urgently. If the property has not yet been re-occupied an urgent injunction can be applied for to secure re-entry to the property. An injunction can also be applied for to secure the return of the tenants belongings even if the tenant does not want to return to the property.
The tenant may also be entitled to compensation from the landlord for the illegal eviction.
Legal aid is available to apply for an injunction to return to the property or for return of belongings.
Stephensons have a specialist housing team who can offer advice and assistance in relation to illegal eviction. If you require legal advice please call our team on 01616 966 229.