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bob
18-03-2009, 01:31 AM
Hi all,

Just looking for some advice here really, a relation of mine has been renting a flat for last 4 years. She gave one months notice to leave on certain date which was agreed with landlord. One week before she was supposed to leave when she was out for the day, the landlord forced his way into flat and then changed locks. She phoned landlord and police who both came to property. The landlord said he got dates mixed up which was rubbish as he saw there was still furniture in place and he could of phoned her first. The police said they could do nothing as it was a civil matter.

What i want to know is legally is there any way she can pursue this, i mean the landlord has technically broke into her home, she was very shaken up by this and was worried he could of snooped round maybe even stole something. I am a landlord myself and would of thought this was a definate no no. She says she wants to take legal action against him but doesnt know if she has a leg to stand on.

I cant believe though that the police would not look at it as breaking and entering whether you own the prop or not. I am curious to know the legal side of this.

Many thanks.

jeffrey
18-03-2009, 10:37 AM
L cannot enter a let property during the tenancy period:
a. except in emergency; or
b. unless T gives permission.

thevaliant
18-03-2009, 11:08 AM
I cant believe though that the police would not look at it as breaking and entering whether you own the prop or not. I am curious to know the legal side of this.

My understanding is that this is a criminal offence. Police should pursue the matter. Go back to them and file a complaint.

Paragon
18-03-2009, 11:24 AM
I doubt anything will come of it. Might come under trespass laws if property belongs to someone else other than yourself. Even then, it is a civil matter, not criminal as I understand it, unless agravated.

Borat
18-03-2009, 13:18 PM
Of course it's a criminal offence but usually enforced by the Local Authority rather than the police who, when badly trained and through lack of knowledge, decide it's a 'civil matter'. The offence is committed (from a criminal law point of view) under 1977 Protection From Eviction Act and can be dealt with either in the magistrates court (max fine £5000 and up to 6 months in jail) or county court (unlimited fine or up to 2 years in jail) the problem is the action IIRC has to be started in the criminal court system within 6 months of the act and has to be proven to the criminal level (beyond all reasonable doubt) which can be a little difficult unless landlord admits while being interviewed under caution.... it has happened!!

But all is not lost... if i remember correctly off top of my head... which is slightly fuzzy today:-

As long as your friend was not an 'exculded occupier' and the offence of illegal eviction has taken place (best to get further legal advice on this) there is a recourse to compensation through the county court. This is usually worked out on the time period that was left in the property (in friends case 1 week?) and like has been mentioned (in wrong context) there are additional awards for if the eviction was aggravated or for financial gain. The action would be either under:

Protection from Eviction Act 1977 but more likely:

s27 housing Act 1988 in relation to harrassment and illegal eviction.

I believe that the time limit for bringing action is 6 years. If the potential award was for more than £5000 it would be easier, if i'm informed correctly, to get a solicitor on legal aid (if applicable) because this takes the claim out of the small claims where the solicitor can claim costs. Claims get pretty big quickly but as only 1 week left not likely to be huge but £2000+ possible. Go see Law Center or solicitor.

SALL
18-03-2009, 14:05 PM
But Borat, The OP didn't says that she was evicted. Maybe the LL gave her access to the property again, when the LL and police turned up. In which case I don't think illegal eviction would apply.

Borat
18-03-2009, 14:39 PM
But Borat, The OP didn't says that she was evicted. Maybe the LL gave her access to the property again, when the LL and police turned up. In which case I don't think illegal eviction would apply.

Actually the term is a little confusing. I pretty sure i remember clearly the offence of illegal eviction being exactly that AND attempting to illegally evict someone. Even if they were let back in changing the locks can easly be construed ad illegal eviction- like taking someones car is theft even if it's returned- the punishment may be reduced for complying with the law late but doesn't make the offence less real.

The offence of harrassment has clearly been committed as this is anything that it intended to breach the implied covernant in any tenancy agreement of the tenants right to quiet enjoyment. This could also be pursued via breach of contract.

Like mentioned before unless OP has legal knowledge or qualifications none of the action to be taken, if OP's relative chooses to, could be done without legal support so visiting solicitor is the best thing to do.

bob
19-03-2009, 22:48 PM
Thankyou for the replies,

She was not actually evicted from the flat the LL changed locks back. She has since moved out. But as i said she was very shaken up by it as after being a good tenant for 4 years did not expect it at all. I am very suprised by the police and there " nothing to do with us " attitude. Anyway i have advised her to go see a solicitor.

Thanks again.

SALL
20-03-2009, 09:31 AM
Thankyou for the replies,

She was not actually evicted from the flat the LL changed locks back. She has since moved out. But as i said she was very shaken up by it as after being a good tenant for 4 years did not expect it at all. I am very suprised by the police and there " nothing to do with us " attitude. Anyway i have advised her to go see a solicitor.

Thanks again.

Going to a solicitor is the best option. Other than giving out tickets for minor driving offences and checking road tax discs not much else is anything to do with the police.