Tenancy Answers - Illegal Eviction
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Illegal Eviction

Assured Shorthold Tenancy

You can only be forced out of your home by a court bailiff with a valid court order. 

What if pressure is put on me to leave?

Then you should speak at the earliest opportunity to the Tenancy Relations Officer (maybe Private Sector Housing Officer or something similar) at your local council.  They have the resources to prosecute landlords who illegally evict tenants.

What if I am physically evicted?

If at all possible, do not let the landlord or his representatives into the property, to prevent this happening.  Call the police on 999 who should issue a warning to your evictor.  However, if there is the threat of violence, you should remove yourself from the situation by leaving peacefully.  At the earliest opportunity, telephone the police or the council and explain that you have been illegally evicted.  They will make arrangements for you to return to the property, or if this is not possible, the council should provide temporary accommodation while the matter is resolved.
 
Sometimes the police are not keen to get involved, claiming it to be a civil matter.  It is not, it is a criminal matter, and their responsibility.  If you have the opportunity to, it would be wise to telephone the police before the matter becomes critical to ensure that they will treat any such request with due dilligence.  If you can not get agreement that it is a police mater from the person you speak to, ask to be refered up to a senior officer.  When you speak to the senior officer,  refer to this report and if you meet with resistance, threaten to take the matter to the Independant Police Complaints Commission.  If you do have to go to the IPCC they usually act very quickly.  http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/

What are the penalties for Illegal Eviction?

If a first time offence is dealt with in the Magistrates Court the maximum penalty is a fine of £5000 / 6 months imprisonment.  Major cases would be transferred to the Crown Court where these limitations do not apply.  In addition to this, it is possible for the evictee to claim damages from the landlord in the civil courts.  These damages can be considerable.
 
These links give examples of the punishments/penalties imposed on landlords who illegally evict:
http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/news/Nottingham-landlord-fined-163-62-000/article-1689339-detail/article.html
http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2010/06/a-bumper-pack-of-unlawful-eviction-updates-from-legal-action/