Most private tenants can only be evicted if their landlord gets a possession order from the court. If your landlord has evicted you without following the correct procedure this may be illegal. Illegal eviction is a serious civil and criminal offence.
Contact a local advice agency
if you feel that your landlord may be illegally evicting you.
What is illegal eviction?
Illegal eviction takes place if you are forced to leave your home by someone who does not have the legal right to do this. Your landlord only has the legal right to exclude you from your home if a court has issued a possession order.Licensees
are more easily evicted than tenants.
You might be illegally evicted if:
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- your landlord doesn't give you the appropriate amount of notice to quit; the length of notice required depends on how long you've been living in the property;
- your landlord changes the locks while you are out or stops you from getting into your home;
- your landlord makes life so uncomfortable for you that you are forced to leave your home;
- you are physically removed from the property by a person who is not employed by the Enforcement of Judgements Office.
What can I do about illegal eviction?
Illegal eviction is a serious offence. The courts may be able to force your landlord to allow you back into your home. The courts can also impose fines and award compensation in extreme cases.
If you are illegally evicted you may be able to:
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- contact the council's Environmental Health Department for help in negotiating with your landlord;
- force re-entry (as long as it is safe and legal to do so);
- get an injunction from the court allowing you back home;
- claim compensation for the losses you have suffered.
if you have been evicted and are not sure of your rights. An adviser can help you:
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- to get back into your accommodation;
- to take action against your landlord;
- to find somewhere else to live.
Negotiate with your landlord
If your landlord has illegally evicted you or is attempting to do this, you should inform them in writing that this action is illegal. Many landlords are not aware of the law and may not realise they are acting illegally. Ask your landlord to:
- allow you back into the property;
- stop trying to evict you illegally;
- stop harassing you;
- return your belongings.
Tell your landlord that if this doesn't happen you will take further action. It is often useful to have an independent witness (such as an adviser or friend) in case you need evidence later. Keep copies of any letters you send to or receive from your landlord.Back to top
You should involve your council environmental health department. You can also take your landlord to court if you have been illegally evicted. You may also want to contact the police
if you feel in danger.
What can the council do?
The council environmental health department deal with problems in private rented properties. The environmental health department can:
- help you negotiate with your landlord;
- warn your landlord of the potential consequences of illegal eviction;
- help you to get back into your home after an illegal eviction.
The environmental health department also has the power to prosecute landlords who illegally evict tenants.
Take court action
If negotiation with your landlord fails, you may be able to take court action to get back into your accommodation. The court has the power to give you an emergency injunction. This will force the landlord to let you back into your home. The court may also award compensation.
What can the police do?
do not have to get involved in cases of illegal eviction unless the eviction is violent. However, it is worth contacting the police if you are illegally evicted so that there is evidence that you can use later if necessary. If you don't feel comfortable contacting the police you may want to contact a local politician or a community group so that there is evidence that you can use later.
The police can't help your landlord to illegally evict you from the accommodation.Back to top
Finding somewhere else to live
If you have been evicted you need to find somewhere else to live. If you have been illegally evicted outside office hours and there is nowhere else you can go you could contact the Housing Executive out of hours homelessness section. You may get emergency accommodation immediately if you meet the homelessness tests
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What about my belongings?
Sometimes landlords remove tenants' belongings and leave them in the garden or the street. If this happens to you there may not be much you can do immediately. However, you should do as much as you can to prevent your belongings being damaged or lost. Try to move them somewhere safe as soon as possible.
In the long term, you may be able to claim compensation from your landlord to cover any damage or theft of belongings caused by an illegal eviction. However, the court will only award compensation that is reasonable. The court may award you less compensation if you don't do anything to prevent your belongings being damaged or stolen when you could have done so.
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