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HARASSMENT BY LANDLORDS

What constitutes harassment?

Harassment by a landlord is a serious offence that carries civil as well as criminal penalties. The law relating to harassment of a tenant and unlawful eviction is very one sided and heavily weighted against the landlord.  What a landlord might consider as acting in a reasonable way might legally be seen as an act of harassment.  For instance, faxing a letter about rent arrears to the tenants work resulted in a successful claim for harassment against one landlord, that resulted in damages of £750 being awarded.

Harassment includes a landlord: cutting off water, gas, or electricity; threatening tenants with eviction; interfering with the tenant's mail; long-term failure to do repairs; deliberate noise pollution, seeking the tenant outside the scope of the rental property i.e. going to the tenant's workplace.

How can a landlord avoid accusations of harassment?

Landlords should never coerce a tenant into leaving a rental property no matter how bad they are.  If a landlord proposes to do something to their tenant thinking “that will get rid of them”, if they have not got a legal reason for their actions, they will probably be considered as acting unlawfully.

If a landlord must visit their tenant under any strained circumstance, it might be advisable to try to take along an independent witness.  In this way, the landlord will be in a position to defend themself from spurious claim made by the tenant.

A landlord needs to be particularly careful where they think a tenant has left the property or so called Abandonment.  They should never be tempted to change the locks and remove tenants' possessions in such circumstances even if they are unconvinced that the tenant has done a ‘runner’.  This is because by virtue of S5 (2) of the Housing Act 1988 a tenancy can only be brought to an end by the landlord obtaining a Court order for possession or by a surrender or similar act by the tenant.  If the courts are convinced that the landlord intended to re-instate the tenant after a discussion about rent arrears it is likely the landlord will be prosecuted for harassment, if they believe the intention was the eviction be permanent then the landlord will be prosecuted for unlawful eviction

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Landlords should always give the tenant as much notice a possible if they are to visit the property to avoid any potential claims of harassment.  At least 48 hours ideally unless there is an emergency.  In wording the notice it is always a good idea to couch the notification in the negative.  That is to say “ I will be visiting the residential investment property at 1pm on Thursday 6 June.  If this is not convenient please notify me ASAP.”

A landlord should never approach a tenant for rent or matters relating to a potential conflict involving the tenancy outside the scope of the premises they are letting as this could constitute harassment.

If problems a rise a landlord should remember to keep dated notes about their actions and the tenants response in case the matter does go to court and the tenant tries to claim harassment.

A landlord needs to be realistic about losses, including any loss of rent, because the financial penalties of being convicted for harassment could be far worse

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Comments (2)

Harrassment by Landlord & Employees
Every year before my lease ends & before they start the process the Landlord & employees start informing tenants they are going to evict me. Then I receive notices for non-payment, then notices for locks on door but previously went to court and inform Judge they entered and changed my locks by breaking window and came in, the judge indicated it was unlawful and could not lock you out but had to give notice. Then they made up lies I old rent over $3000 but there proof was falsely written the judge indicated he would not help them evict me without out cause. so i am still here. Now its time again and the landlord imself is arrassing me and refusing to except my rent as of yesterday. i live in a private housing complex and HUD refuse to intercept cause the overseer is on there side but i have emails when see stated take them to court she will not help. Can I take them to court for arrassment, this is bothering my children and they are in fear cause one time they kicked my door and wanted to fight but i didnt come out cause it was just me and my children home no one else to help.They want me to move but I do not bother them and is bearly home, no damages, no noise and my kids stay in programs until late night. but because i quote the landlord tenant law of coming into my apartment with notice of 48 -72 hours prior they are annoyed as well as another tenant wanted the apartment that i have been in for five years and been at the complex for 16 years and until this new management company took over and worker are personal frends of tenant the court proceedings never stopped. What can i do?
#1 - Lea - 04/04/2012 - 13:02
management and freeholder dispute
my management company contacted me very recently saying they have had complaints from from 3 other tennants or lease holders with regards to the behaviour of my tennant ,they have cited some incedents, loud music, swearing ,i have approached my tennant ,he denies most of the claims ,i have asked for times dates and actions that had been taken regarding the complaints from the management company ,but they refused at this time to give me any information,i have not asked for names or flat numbers ,they the management members say that because of my tennants actions an owner of another flat may well be looking to me for recompense ,the secretary of the management company says as he has been approached by the tennants as some do not wish to approach my tennant direct,as he has been approached by the tennants making the complaints he says he as the secretary has a duty represent them,i did explain that i think that the correct procedure would be for any one that has an issue with my tennant should contact me direct,his response was that as they dont know me they may not want to contact me.i have had a meeting with the secretary and company chairman over this matter ,but i got the impression that they have already made there minds up to get me to evict my tennant ,who has been in residence at the flat for 14 years,in that time i have only recieved one complaint one of which was over one year ago ,when i asked the secretary why i had not been approached before regarding my tennants action ,his repley was that he had not been informed about them untile before 22nd april 2013 there abouts ,a definative date was not given by him.The chairman and the secreteray have suggested writting a letter to my tennat informing him of the events that are ongoing,i have since had a meeting with my tennant and explained what should be expected of him. He did ask me for times and dates of the allegations against him but as i had not been given them i could not give him an answer ,i have since found out that at least two flats within the block of sixteen are owned by the secretary and the chairman ,and are used for rental income,it may be that they are owners of more .I need help in sorting this problem ,i have suggested medition but it seems thy would prefer me to see a lawyer
#2 - tom - 05/06/2013 - 10:49
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