Harassment and Unlawful Evictions of Tenants during COVID-19 Pandemic

William Ford

Table of Contents

At these hugely challenging times, I thought it would be helpful to provide some insight for tenants facing harassment and unlawful evictions during this time. I am currently taking calls from tenants who have tenancy agreements or contractual licences and here are my answers to some of the questions we are responding to.

What is the general position with evicting a tenant?

Unless a tenancy or licence is within s.3A of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, Landlords must follow “due process” in order to re-enter a property.

The meaning of “due process” is serving a notice, issuing a claim for possession, obtaining an order for possession and enforcing that order with court bailiffs.

What is the general position of harassing a tenant?

There is normally a clause in the tenancy agreement preventing the landlord from interfering with the quiet enjoyment of a tenant’s use of the property. If there isn’t, the law provides protection from Harassment and Unlawful eviction under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

Landlords are not allowed to engage in behaviour or an activity, or encourage others to do so which could force a tenant to leave a property or interfere with their quiet enjoyment of the property.

What if the tenant doesn’t have a written agreement?

The case of Street v Mountford [1985] WLR 877 provides that even if there is nothing in writing or the agreement is not labelled as Tenancy Agreement you just need to establish the elements of a tenancy agreement which are:

  1. Parties – i.e. landlord and tenant
  2. Property – physical land
  3. Term – could be monthly, but often 6 or 12 months
  4. Rent – often payment of money
  5. Exclusive possession – a tenant can “keep out strangers and keep out the landlord unless the landlord is exercising limited rights reserved to him by the tenancy agreement to enter and view and repair…”

Therefore the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 would apply.

An individual could use Shelter’s Tenancy Checker to see if you would be afforded the above protection.

What are the concerns?

In light of the current pandemic that is ensuing the Government has made urgent changes to the law. The Government has introduced practice direction 51Z. All proceedings for possession brought under CPR Part 55 and all proceedings seeking to enforce an order for possession by a warrant or writ of possession are stayed for a period of 90 days from 27 March 2020.

Landlords must follow “due process” combined with the current stay in any possession proceedings means the eviction process will be longer than usual.

Certain Landlords may wish to evict a tenant without following due process. Alternatively the landlord may harass the tenant in order to encourage the tenant to leave the property.

What can a tenant do during this time?

If the tenant finds that s/he has been unexpectedly and unlawfully evicted from the property during this time, the tenant could:

  • Report this to the police, to see if they can assist with getting back into the property, they could refer to the Government Guidance here which shows how landlords and tenants should be behaving at this time;
  • This type of work is covered by legal aid subject to eligibility. Contact a Solicitor to help get an injunction allowing the tenant back into the property. The County Courts are prioritising a host of cases and injunction claims are one of them. Whilst there are many offices closed to the public at the moment, many law firms are still operating and are able to assist remotely by way of skype, zoom and over the phone. It is advisable for the tenant to seek advice.
  • Contact the local authority, they sometimes provide assistance for people unlawfully evicted or could help with a place to stay.

Related Services:

Share this article


Contact us today

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you

    More from WilliamVIEW ALL

    1. Man is making audit of household expenses

      Success in Court of Appeal in child disability...

      The Court of Appeal has today handed judgment in the case of Harrington v Secretary of State for Work and...

      Read more
    2. Churchill Gardens neighborhood in Pimlico

      High Court finds Westminster Council’s Housing Scheme...

      Westminster City Council’s housing allocation scheme found to be unlawful The High Court has today handed down judgment finding...

      Read more
    3. East London aerial view

      Housing allocation case questions lawfulness of council’s...

      Until February 2022, the social housing allocation scheme for the London Borough of Newham allowed people who lived outside the borough...

      Read more
    4. High Court of Justice, London, UK

      Legacy benefits uplift: appeal granted by Court of...

      On 18 February 2022 the High Court dismissed the case brought by Osbornes on behalf of 4 claimants challenging the governments failure to...

      Read more
    5. Homeless Teenager

      Council overturns unlawful housing policy

      Homeless teenager claims victory for more than 1,200 homeless people after forcing council to overturn unlawful housing policy A homeless teenager...

      Read more
    6. shoreditch london

      Homeless Teenager takes London Council to High Court

      A homeless teenager is taking a London council to the High Court for ‘unlawfully’ banning hundreds of homeless people from...

      Read more
    7. mould

      Housing Disrepair Scandal in South London

      Following an investigation by ITV nearly 500 homes in the Eastfields Estate in Mitcham, south London, owned by the housing association...

      Read more
    8. 8.4.2021

      Council to amend unlawful housing allocation banding process

      For the last 8 years Brent Council has stopped the majority of homeless applicants from bidding for rehousing, treating them as ‘...

      Read more
    9. 29.1.2021

      What does the national lockdown mean for possession...

      The coronavirus pandemic has caused disruption to all elements of life, and possession proceedings are no exception. The number of...

      Read more
    10. 23.12.2020

      EU Nationals with Pre-Settled Status entitled to benefits...

      Court Judgment means EU Nationals with Pre-Settled Status can access benefits and housing On 18 December 2020 the Court of Appeal handed...

      Read more
    11. 22.12.2020

      Young mother secures accommodation after illegal evictions during...

      Here at Osbornes we have seen illegal evictions on the increase during this global pandemic. Osbornes have been advising many...

      Read more
    12. 22.12.2020

      Osbornes applying to Supreme Court in housing possession...

      In the case of Gateway Housing Association –v- Begum (2) the Court of Appeal recently decided that a tenant must leave...

      Read more
    13. 22.12.2020

      Eviction from home of vulnerable man during lockdown...

      Osbornes were instructed just before the lockdown to prevent the eviction of a vulnerable man with capacity issues. He had...

      Read more
    14. london apartments

      Housing disrepair issues resolved after three years

      Osbornes were instructed on behalf of a disabled tenant who had been decanted from her temporary accommodation for some three...

      Read more
    15. 24.11.2020

      Is the delay in the Renters Reform Bill...

      There have been issues tenants have faced for a long time before pandemic; namely no fault evictions and the other...

      Read more
    16. 20.11.2020

      Up Up and away to the First Tier...

      This year we assisted in written representations for a welfare benefit case in the Upper Tribunal. This is a Housing...

      Read more
    17. 20.11.2020

      You are homeless because you are in shared...

      It is well established that shared facilities are not suitable for families with children as long term accommodation. The client...

      Read more
    18. 27.5.2020

      I am vulnerable and homeless but the Council...

      Homelessness law and procedure can be very complicated. We hope this blog gives you some helpful pointers but it is...

      Read more
    19. 4.5.2020

      No recourse to public funds in the time...

      Anyone working in the field of social welfare law will be familiar with the term “no recourse to public funds”....

      Read more
    20. 29.4.2020

      Case news: Housing benefit decision addresses issue of...

      The background You might be forgiven for thinking that the question of whether a course is full time or part...

      Read more
    21. 31.3.2020

      The Coronavirus Act 2020 and Social Care

      The Coronavirus Act 2020 (“the Act”) came into law on 25 March 2020 and passed sweeping emergency legislation that is unprecedented in peacetime....

      Read more
    22. london house

      I have a disrepair issue can I withhold...

      Withholding rent is not your best course of action. I see the logic in using the non-payment of rent as...

      Read more
    23. 27.3.2020

      COVID-19 – the impact on landlords of residential properties...

      From the 26th March 2020, landlords will have to give their tenants 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession compared...

      Read more
    24. 26.3.2020

      British child living with her mother in the...

      In AH v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2020] UKUT 53 (AAC), the claimant and her parents are British citizens. ...

      Read more