We provide advice and information to landlords and tenants about tenancy law and offences related to tenancy law.  We help to make sure that tenants are not made to leave their homes unlawfully.

Although we cannot represent or act on behalf of either landlords or tenants in the way that a solicitor or advocate can, we do advise about the law to do with private tenancies.

The following detailed advice is for tenants on common private rented problems.

Types of tenancy

Assured Shorthold Tenancy

This is the most common type of tenancy.  Most private sector tenancies created on or after 28 February 1997 are Assured Shorthold Tenancies whether they are called that in the contract or not.

One of the key features of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy is that a new tenancy automatically follows when a fixed term tenancy agreement runs out.

This new tenancy is called a ‘periodic tenancy’. Your landlord can only end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy by getting a Possession Order from the Court.

There are 2 ways your landlord can get a Possession Order; one begins by giving you a ‘Section 21’ Notice and the other, by giving you a ‘Section 8’ Notice Seeking Possession.’

If your landlord takes a deposit for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, s/he has to ‘protect it’ in a government authorised scheme (see tenant's unprotected deposit).

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (before 28 February 1997)

If the tenancy began between 15 January 1989 and 27 February 1997, your landlord had to have given you a document called a Notice of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (or ‘Section 20’ Notice) if the landlord wanted the tenancy to be an Assured Shorthold. 

This sort of Notice had to be given before the tenancy was entered into. Tenancies created on or after 28 February 1997 did not need one of these Notices.

Assured Tenancy (non-Shorthold)

This kind of tenancy is most likely to be created in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. If the tenancy was entered into between 15th January 1989 and 28th February 1997, and either: no Notice of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy was served; or the tenancy was made for a fixed term of less than six months.
  2. If the tenancy was entered into after 28th February 1997, and either: the landlord serves a notice on the tenant, saying the tenancy is not an Assured Shorthold Tenancy; or the tenancy agreement says that the tenancy is not an Assured Shorthold.

As with Assured Shorthold tenancies, once a fixed term tenancy agreement runs out, a new periodic tenancy automatically follows.

Your landlord can only end a non-Shorthold Assured Tenancy by serving a Section 8 Notice Seeking Possession, and then applying to the Court. Your landlord is not able to use the Section 21 procedure to get possession.

Your landlord does not have to protect a deposit taken for a non-Shorthold Assured Tenancy.

Regulated Tenancy

This is a tenancy which began before 15 January 1989.

One of the key features of this kind of tenancy is that rents are controlled by a system of fair rents set by the Valuation Office Agency.

Also, your landlord can only gain possession on the grounds allowed by the Rent Act 1977. Your landlord must obtain a Possession Order from the Court.

Licences

Licences to occupy, instead of tenancies, are created in some circumstances.

This can be when the occupier doesn’t have the right to exclude other people, including the owner; or when it is clear there wasn’t an intention to create legal relations.

Examples of licences can include where you are staying with family and friends, where you are living somewhere as a part of your job, or when a landlord regularly provides services in the room (for example cleaning or support).

Licencees generally have fewer rights than tenants.

The law will not allow a landlord to call a tenancy a licence just in order to give the occupier fewer rights.

The law to do with the difference between tenancies and landlords is complicated and if you are in doubt about this you will need to get further advice.

Occupiers with resident landlords

This covers occupiers who share living accommodation with their landlord (for example a bathroom, kitchen, living room).

For these kinds of arrangements, generally the landlord would not need a Possession Order to evict the occupier. However they would still need to serve a notice; the length of the notice depends on the nature of the arrangement.

Eviction by landlord

Ending a tenancy

One of the most important points to bear in mind, is that if you have a rent paying arrangement with someone, then, generally, that person can’t evict you without a Possession Order from the Court, and then a bailiff’s warrant.

One of the main exceptions to this is if you have a resident landlord who shares living accommodation with you. However even a resident landlord must still serve the right notice, or wait for any contract to end, before you would have to leave.

The main steps your landlord has to follow to get possession are:

  • serving the correct Notice
  • applying to the Court for possession
  • the Court making a decision (usually at a hearing)
  • applying for a bailiff’s warrant

Section 8 Notice

This notice can be used by your landlord if s/he can prove one or more of 17 Grounds. Most of the relevant grounds are to do with things like rent arrears and damage or anti-social behaviour.

Before your landlord can apply to Court for possession on the 17 Grounds, s/he must give you a Section 8 Notice or NSP. This is on a special form, and contains a lot of legally required information and needs to be filled in correctly.

The minimum length of notice for Grounds 3, 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, and 17 is 2 weeks.

For Grounds 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 16 the notice must give at least 2 months but these Grounds are rarely used.

For Ground 14 (nuisance by the tenant) your landlord can apply to the Court for possession as soon as the notice is served.

Your landlord can use any of the 17 Grounds after the fixed term tenancy contract has ended.

During a fixed term, your landlord can use Grounds 2, 8, 10,11, 12, 13, 14, 15, or 17 as long as the tenancy agreement says that it can be ended for the reasons given in these grounds.

Notice Seeking Possession (‘Section 21’ Notice)

For Assured Shorthold tenancies, landlords can also get possession using the ‘no fault' or ‘automatic’ Shorthold Ground, often referred to as ‘Section 21.’

To use Section 21, a landlord does not have to have a reason, such as the tenant failing to pay rent or behaving badly. The landlord simply has to have served the correct Notice (often called a ‘Section 21 Notice’) and they can then apply to the Court for a Possession Order.

However, there are some limits on when landlords can get possession using this method:

  • if the tenancy was for a fixed term, the landlord can only apply for possession after the fixed term has ended
  • the landlord cannot gain possession until 6 months after the start of the original tenancy
  • the landlord cannot give a Section 21 Notice if the property is an HMO and should have a local authority license but s/he has failed to apply 
  • the landlord cannot give a Section 21 Notice if s/he has not taken the proper steps to protect your deposit including having given you all the information s/he has to give about the tenancy and how the deposit is protected

The notice has to:

  • be in writing.
  • state that possession is required not less than two months after the date the Notice was given

Section 21 Notices - tenancy began after 30 September 2015

The Deregulation Act 2015 made important changes to the requirements for section 21 notices for new tenancies and tenancies which were renewed after 1 October 2015.

These changes include:

before a section 21 Notice is given:

  • the landlord or agent must have given the tenant the 'How to Rent' booklet
  • the landlord or agent must have given the tenant a gas safety certificate if one is required
  • the landlord or agent must have given the tenant an energy performance certificate

also:

  • the landlord or agent must use a special notice produced by the government
  • for tenancies which are not renewals, notice cannot be given within the first four months of the tenancy beginning
  • the notice will no longer be valid 6 months after the notice was given
  • if we have served the landlord an improvement notice, you will usually not be able to give a section 21 notice within 6 months of the improvement notice being served
  • in some circumstances where a landlord is served an improvement notice, it may invalidate a section 21 notice which has already been given

(see also the section ‘Protection against retaliatory eviction’

Possession Order

Once the notice has run out, your landlord can apply to the County Court for a Possession Order. When s/he does this, you will receive a ‘defence form’ from the Court. It is important that you get advice about this from a solicitor or advice centre as you may be able to defend the landlord’s application.  If your landlord is successful in getting a Possession Order, the Court will usually give you 2 weeks to leave your home, though if you are in exceptional hardship, the Court might be give up to 6 weeks to leave.  If you do not move out before the landlord applies to the Court, and you do not successfully defend the landlord’s application to get the house or flat back, you will probably have to pay your landlord’s court costs and legal costs.

Once a Possession Order has been made

If you don’t leave the property on the date you are required to by the Possession Order, your landlord must apply for a ‘bailiff’s warrant’. This results in the Court Bailiffs evicting you and at this point the tenancy legally comes to an end.

Unlawful eviction

If your landlord makes you leave without following the correct procedure, or if he attempts to, for example by changing the locks or by moving someone else in, then s/he is likely to be committing a criminal offence of unlawful eviction under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. The Local Authority prosecutes for these offences. The maximum penalty is:

  • a £5,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment in the Magistrates Court
  • an unlimited fine and/or two years imprisonment in the Crown Court.

If you are made to leave unlawfully, you could also apply for damages and/or an injunction to get back in through the civil courts.

Getting our advice

If you would like to ask for advice from the Tenancy Relations Team please complete this form and send it to us with copies of:

  • your Notice
  • any letters from your landlord
  • the latest tenancy agreement you have signed
  • any documents you have about the deposit you paid.

You can bring copies with your completed form to the First Point reception at Howden House, or you can email them to us.

Landlord harassment

‘Quiet Enjoyment’

All tenants are entitled to ‘Quiet Enjoyment’ of their accommodation. This means that your landlord must respect your right to live in your home in peace, comfort and privacy. 

Rights of access

Agreeing a tenancy means that your landlord must give up many of the rights they have to occupy and enter the premises. A tenant is regarded as having ‘exclusive occupation’ of the house or flat, which means that generally, you have control over what happens on the premises. It also means that you are responsible for anything which goes wrong, for example noise, damage or rubbish.

The main exception is that you have to let your landlord have access to carry out repairs, or to inspect the condition of the flat or house.  To carry out an inspection, your landlord has to give you 24 hours’ notice in writing. It is always advisable that you make every reasonable effort to come to an agreement with your landlord about letting your landlord in to do repairs or to inspect.

If you rent a room in a shared house where the tenants have separate tenancy agreements, your landlord retains control of the shared parts but you have the right to use them. This means that your landlord can enter the shared parts without the tenants’ permission. However your landlord should still respect your right to privacy and comfort. Your landlord is only entitled to have access to your room to inspect or carry out repairs.

The tenancy agreement might also say you have to allow access to the landlord e.g. on giving notice and at reasonable times, for the purpose of showing prospective new tenants round in the last month of the tenancy.  If you do not allow reasonable access for these sorts of reasons, then the landlord might be able to claim damages for any losses incurred as a result of not being able to show prospective tenants round.  It can be difficult to decide what is reasonable and what is not.  If the tenancy agreement said that you had to give your landlord access for something that was not reasonable, or e.g. that you had to give access at unreasonable times, then it is likely that this would not be enforceable.

Unlawful eviction

If your landlord makes you leave without following the correct procedure, or if he attempts to, for example by changing the locks or by moving someone else in, then s/he is likely to be committing a criminal offence of unlawful eviction under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. The Local Authority prosecutes for these offences. The maximum penalty is either:

  • a £5,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment in the Magistrates Court
  • an unlimited fine and/or two years imprisonment in the Crown Court

If you are made to leave unlawfully, you could also apply for damages and/or an injunction to get back in through the civil courts. 

Harassment

Harassment of occupiers is also a criminal offence under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. It is punishable as above.

For the purposes of this Act, 'harassment' is doing something which your landlord would have reasonable cause to believe would make you leave, or which would deter you from pursuing a ‘right or remedy,’ (for instance not reporting repairs to us). 

Examples of harassment include:

  • cutting off the gas/electricity.
  • intimidating or abusive behaviour.
  • entering the premises uninvited (other than to carry out repairs).
  • carrying out repairs in such a way as to cause unnecessary discomfort or inconvenience to the tenant.
  • calling at the property late at night.
  • sending disturbing or unreasonable texts.

Even if your landlord's or agent’s behaviour falls short of being a criminal offence, actions which interfere with your right to Quiet Enjoyment (see above), may give you the right to bring a claim against your landlord for damages through the Civil Courts.

Tenant's unprotected deposit

Your landlord should have put your deposit in a tenancy deposit protection scheme. If your landlord has done this, you would have received information about where your deposit is and how you can get it back. You would have also received a letter from the tenancy deposit scheme.

If your landlord has not properly protected your deposit within 30 days of you paying it, then you can make a claim for:

  • the return of the deposit (if not already returned) 
  • ‘punitive damages’ of between 1 and 3 times the amount of the deposit

Section 21 Notices

If your landlord has not properly protected your deposit (including having given you all the proper information about it) then they will probably not be able to give you a section 21 Notice (see section on Eviction by Landlord).  Before they can give you the Notice, then depending on the exact circumstances, the landlord will have to put things right, or returned the deposit to you.

When to claim

You can make a claim even if your tenancy has ended.

Even if your landlord complies with deposit protection legislation after 30 days, this does not give him/her a full defence to court proceedings. S/he would still be liable for a fine up to 3 times the amount of the deposit.

Your landlord would still be liable for a financial penalty if he/she has protected your deposit but hasn’t given you the ‘prescribed information’.

How to claim

This kind of claim is sometimes called a ‘Section 214 claim’ because it is made under the Housing Act 2004, Section 214. Claims are started in the County Court.

There are different views as to what procedure you need to use a claim. Some say that you need to use the more complicated ‘Part 8’ Court procedure which could lead to you having to pay substantial costs if, for some reason, you lost your claim.

However, most commentators seem to think that the Court would be likely to accept a claim made using the usual ‘small claim’ procedure.

It might be a good idea to contact the County Court before you start your claim to check which procedure you should use. The Court staff can advise you on the procedures and which forms to use, but they can’t give you legal advice.

Forms

To start a claim complete Form N208 Claim Form (CPR Part 8).  For small claims, complete Form N1.  A link to the Court & tribunal form finder is available in Supporting documents and links.

If you need more legal advice and help with filling in the form, you may be able to get help from a solicitor or a Citizens Advice Bureau. 

Successful claims

If your claim is successful, the Courts may order the landlord to either pay your deposit back, or pay it into a scheme, or allow the landlord to keep it in cases of rent arrears or damage.

The Courts would also order the landlord to pay you compensation up to 3 times the amount of the deposit. The actual amount depends on the circumstances of the case.

For example, if your landlord had not complied by failing to give you some of the prescribed information on time, then the compensation would be likely to be near the bottom end of the range.

However, if your landlord had wilfully failed to protect your deposit at all, then you would be likely to receive the full amount of 3 times the value of the deposit.

Help

You may be able to get advice from your advice centre or solicitor.  You may also want to read the 'How to rent' guide from GOV.UK.

Ending a tenancy

If you want to move out of your home for good, you have to make sure you legally end the tenancy. How you do this depends on whether or not your tenancy agreement has run out.

The tenancy agreement hasn’t run out

Firstly, check your contract for a ‘break clause’. This is a clause which says either the tenant or the landlord can end the agreement ‘early’ (before the tenancy agreement has run out) by giving notice. It will usually specify how much notice you need to give. You should follow what the break clause says to legally end the tenancy. You may need advice about this from a solicitor or advice centre.

If you can’t find a break clause, then the only other way to end your tenancy before your tenancy agreement has run out, is by agreement with the landlord. The landlord may be happy to agree, or you may need to negotiate with him/her for example by offering to find a replacement tenant.

If you are wanting to leave because of problems with repairs or your landlord has done something else wrong, such as harassed you or not dealt with your deposit correctly, this may give you cause to make a claim for compensation against your landlord.  If your landlord is aware of this then they might be more likely to negotiate about you leaving early.

If your landlord agrees you can leave, make sure you get this agreement in writing. Ending your tenancy with the landlord’s agreement is a kind of ‘surrender’ of your tenancy. It is important that you can show that your landlord agrees to you leaving, otherwise, he may be able to claim the rent due from you to the end of the contract. If you have a joint tenancy (more than one name listed as tenant on a tenancy agreement), then all tenants and the landlord must agree to end the tenancy. Legally, you can leave on the last day of the contract without giving notice to landlord; however it would be courteous to let them know. Remember that even if you stay a day over, a new periodic tenancy will automatically start (see below on how to end periodic tenancies)

The tenancy agreement has run out – periodic tenancies

If your rent is payable monthly, then you have to give one month’s Notice in writing. If your rent is payable weekly, then you have to give your landlord a 28 day Notice to Quit. It has to run out on the last or first day of the period of the tenancy (usually the rent day or the day before).

Even if you give the landlord a notice which does not meet the above requirements, for example 1 week’s verbal Notice - and the landlord agrees to it – then it may still mean you have to leave. The landlord may not have to get a court order to get you out. In these circumstances you should get further advice as soon as possible.

When a Notice runs out, it ends the tenancy so you would have to leave, even if you have changed your mind, so it is important to make sure you have somewhere else to go before handing in your Notice.

If you are a joint tenant, just one tenant can give Notice to the landlord which will end the tenancy for all the joint tenants, who would have to leave. 

Important note

If you leave without ending your tenancy properly, that is without notice or the landlord’s agreement, your landlord could chase you for the rent until the contract has run out. . This might result in you getting a County Court Judgement. However the landlord can’t claim the full rent from you if they have already re-let to another tenant.

If you are a joint tenant, and one of the tenants leaves without the tenancy having ended, then the whole rent is still due (even if you pay separately). The landlord can chase any of the other tenants for the whole rent and the remaining tenant, or tenants, would have to pay the whole rent if the landlord chooses to hold them liable.

Landlord selling the property

Your landlord is allowed to sell your home even when you are living in it. This is because your landlord owns the bricks-and-mortar and the land underneath the house and is entitled to sell it.  However, this does not necessarily affect your tenancy.

Selling the house does not in itself, help the landlord to get the house back, but the landlord is entitled to use the usual steps of proper Notice and applying to Court to get a tenant to leave.

It may very often be more straight forward for the landlord to sell the house with ‘vacant possession’, that is when you have gone, unless it is likely that the buyer is also likely to want to rent the property out.

Your landlord doesn’t have to tell you about the sale before it goes through. Sometimes tenants don’t know the property has been sold until afterwards.  This is legal because it doesn’t affect your rights.

Generally, you have the right to keep anyone out of your home (including the landlord), unless you agrees to the person coming in.  Your landlord does not normally have a right to come in to show buyers around.

However, your tenancy agreement may allow for prospective purchasers to be shown round. Agreements should say that tenants should be given notice of visits, that they should be at reasonable times or by agreement, and visits should not unduly inconvenience you. If the tenancy agreement does not have these kinds of restrictions, then the clause is likely to be deemed ‘unfair’ and therefore won’t be enforceable.

For most tenancies, the new landlord has to give you a written notice that the property has been sold, and it must give his name and address. This must be done within 2 months of the sale.  If not, the landlord commits a criminal offence.

If a new landlord takes over, your tenancy rights are just the same as under the old landlord.  The only thing that changes is the identity of the person who is the landlord.  The new landlord buys the property subject to the tenancy.

You will need to be sure who you are paying rent to.  You can make a written request for the landlords name and address to the person who demands rent.  That person must provide the details, in writing, within 21 days or they commit a criminal offence.

If you have reason to be suspicious, you could ask for written proof from your old landlord that the new landlord is who they say they are.

If you are not sure who to pay the rent to, you could either carry on paying it to the old landlord or set the money aside in a separate bank account so that you can pay it over when the new landlord has provided enough proof of their identity and status.

There is no need to make a new agreement when a new landlord takes over because the terms and conditions of the tenancy remain the same. However, it can help make things clearer if there is a new agreement. 

The rent is a term of the tenancy agreement, so it remains unchanged until the new landlord takes the proper steps to increase the rent, or the tenant agrees a rent increase.

As soon as you get a written notice of the sale, you should inform the benefits service and ask them to stop paying the old landlord.  You can then provide the notice to give details of the new landlord.

The new landlord is obliged to do repairs just as your old landlord was.  If notice of the sale hasn’t been given, the tenant can take legal action against either the old landlord, or the new landlord or both.

Protection against retaliatory eviction

Retaliatory eviction is a phrase usually used to describe a situation when you complain about something to your landlord, and the landlord then ‘retaliates’ by giving you a notice to leave.

Complaining about the place you live

Your landlord can not evict you without going through the proper procedure, which means giving you notice and applying for a Possession Order through the Courts.

Your landlord can not just change the locks or harass you into leaving.

The easiest way for a landlord to get you to leave is usually to first give you a ‘section 21’ notice to leave.

If you have signed a new tenancy agreement on or after 1 October 2015, there is a new law which offers you some protection against retaliatory eviction in some circumstances.

Protection against a landlord evicting you

If you complain to us about the condition of the house where you live, and this then leads to us sending the landlord  a ‘relevant notice’ (see below), then, after we have sent that notice, your landlord can not give you a section 21 notice for the next 6 months, apart from when the relevant notice is cancelled or reversed, or if the landlord appeals.

Relevant notices

A relevant notice is how the law refers to 2 kinds of formal notice which we can send your landlord if there are serious problems with the place where you live.

These notices are a part of the formal legal action we take to make properties safe:

  • ‘improvement notice’
  • ‘emergency remedial action notice’

When we send a ‘relevant notice’

We will only send your landlord an improvement notice if there are serious hazards in the place where you live.

Your landlord will usually be given reasonable opportunity to put things right before a notice is sent.

In most cases an improvement notice is only used where your landlord will not agree with us to get the work done within a reasonable timescale, or where we have good reason to think your landlord won’t do the work.

An emergency remedial action notice will only be used where, on inspection, we identify problems with the condition of the house that mean there is an imminent risk of serious harm.

If your landlord puts things right

If your landlord puts things right, then we cannot send a notice to them, and you will have no extra protection against you landlord giving you a section 21 notice.

We will also usually give your landlord a reasonable opportunity to get work done before sending your landlord a notice requiring him to get the work done.

Other notices from us to your landlord

Unless we give either of the 2 notices above, you have no protection.

If your landlord gives you a section 21 notice after you have complained, but before we send a ‘relevant notice’

If you complained in writing to your landlord about the condition of the place where you live (including by email) and we then have to give a ‘relevant notice’ to get your landlord to do the work, then, any section 21 notice he gave you after you complained to him in writing, will usually become invalid, even if you received it before the Council gave your landlord the ‘relevant notice’.

Telling your landlord in writing about problems with the condition of the house

If you do not tell your landlord in writing about the problems with the house, you will not have any protection against a section 21 notice in the time before we give the landlord a relevant Notice.  You only have protection at all, if we do go on to give your landlord a ‘relevant notice’ (see above, When we send a ‘relevant notice’).

If you complain in writing to your landlord, before you get a section 21 notice, and the landlord fails to do the work, and then we send the landlord a ‘relevant notice,’ then you will have protection against any section 21 notice you were given by your landlord in the time after you complained to him in writing.

In the 6 month period after we have sent your landlord a ‘relevant notice’, you will have protection against a new section 21 notice, even if you did not write to your landlord.

It is just a section 21 notice given before our notice, that you will not be protected against, if you did not write to your landlord.

There are other reasons to make your landlord aware of problems in writing:

  • we will not usually consider formal action against your landlord unless you have made your landlord aware of the problems in writing
  • you are usually under an obligation to make your landlord aware of repairs that need doing so that your landlord can make sure the property is well maintained
  • if you later want to make a compensation claim against your landlord because he has not done repairs, it is important to show that you have made your landlord aware of the problems

Texting your landlord about problems

Whether texting counts as telling your landlord in writing about problems with your house, is not absolutely clear in law at the moment.

Always write your landlord a letter or note, or send an email, so long as the email address is one the landlord has given you, or is one advertised by the landlord as an email address at which you can contact them.

Complaints to your landlord about something not in our notice to them

If we send your landlord a ‘relevant notice’ then you will have protection against a section 21 notice to leave for the next 6 months.

However, if you complained about one thing to the landlord (e.g. a rotten window frame) but we send notice to the landlord about something else (e.g. lack of handrails), the law is unclear, about whether you will have protection against a section 21 notice, given to you before we gave notice to the landlord.

For this reason, it is a good idea for you to have a good understanding of what kinds of problems are likely to lead to us sending the landlord a ‘relevant notice’.

That way you will have a better idea of whether we are likely to give your landlord a ‘relevant notice’ and whether you are likely to have any protection against a section 21 notice.

If you don’t know your landlord’s address

If you cannot complain in writing to your landlord, because you do not know either their postal or email address, any section 21 notice given to you, will still become invalid if we send your landlord a ‘relevant notice,’ even though you have not first written to your landlord to complain.

Circumstances where we could have served a relevant notice but the landlord can still then give you a section 21 notice

If a ‘relevant notice’ from us is cancelled or reversed, then you will not have any extra protection against retaliatory eviction.

You will also not have any protection if our notice is suspended because your landlord appeals against it.

If the appeal is unsuccessful, then the landlord cannot give you a section 21 notice for 6 months after the date appeal is decided.

If your landlord gives notice seeking possession because you are behind with rent

The law against retaliatory eviction does not give any protection against a Housing Act 1988 ‘section 8’ notice. This kind of notice is usually given if you are in arrears of rent, have damaged the property, or the landlord says you have caused anti social behaviour.  If you are in any doubt about this, get advice.

If a landlord retaliates by giving a notice because of a complaint about something not to do with the condition of your home

If your landlord gives you a section 21 notice because you have complained about something else other than the condition of the property, such as harassment, the rent, the decoration of your flat or discrimination, then you have no protection at all against the section 21 notice to leave.

If a landlord threatens to change the locks or tries to get you to leave by making you feel uncomfortable

We take the harassment or illegal eviction of tenants very seriously.

We will always prosecute where we can if the landlord tries to get you to leave this way.

If your landlord is threatening to change the locks, or threatening to evict you without going to court, or their behaviour is making you feel uncomfortable or intimidated, please contact us, as soon as possible.

Unfair terms in contracts

Because tenancy contracts are a kind of consumer contract, they are covered by the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

This means that in some circumstances, unfair terms can be ruled not to apply. 

The Government have provided guidance on what is likely to be found to be an unfair term in a tenancy agreement.  It is worth reading this guidance before taking things further.

If, having looked at the guidance, you still think one or more of the terms is unfair, there are really 3 approaches available to you:

Contact Trading Standards

One of their options would be to refer to the FCA (see below) but they might also be able to advise whether such a term falls foul of any other consumer regulations.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Make a direct referral of the term you believe may be unfair, to the Financial Conduct Authority.  They won’t always agree to take the case on however, and it is possible that the only way of establishing whether the term is unfair may turn out to be to test it in court.

Local advice centre

If you do not feel confident of taking things further yourself, you can contact your local advice centre for further advice.