I recently read the shocking story about Mr Valentine-Brown who was murdered by his landlady, her partner and two accomplices when they decided they would take the eviction process into their own hands.  Although an extreme case, this story serves to highlight just how quickly problems can escalate when emotions are running high and landlords take an unlawful route to eviction.

You would be amazed how many landlords I have spoken to over the years who do not understand why they cannot simply turn up and take back possession of their property when a tenant falls into arrears. There is often an attitude of “I’m the landlord, it’s my property, I can do what I want.” Wrong.

A good friend of mine is a police officer and she recently told me that there has been a marked increase in calls, across the London borough where she operates, relating to landlord and tenant disputes. However, these are civil matters and police will not intervene unless there is a breach of peace.

In a recent case, a tenant who had rented a property for five years, but suddenly fallen into two weeks rent arrears, returned to the property to find his landlord throwing his belonging out on the street with no warning or any prior discussion about terminating the tenancy.

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It amazes me that in this day and age some landlords are still unaware of their legal responsibilities in letting out a property. Regardless of whether a tenant has fallen into arrears, no landlord has the right to unlawfully enter an occupied property and remove a tenant’s belongings or change the locks.

An illegal eviction can be punishable with a fine of up to £20,000 and possible jail time, too. If a landlord wishes to evict a tenant, they should never, under any circumstances, take matters into their own hands. Always wait for the judgement of the courts.

So, what should a landlord do?

MAKE CONTACT – If you have a reason to evict your tenant, such as rent arrears, always try to make contact first to see if you can reach a resolution. Sometimes tenants default through no fault of their own and communication can help to solve the problem before it is taken any further.

COMMUNICATION TRAIL – Always keep a record of communication between you and your tenant, and if you have a phone call to discuss any issues, such as late payments or anti-social behaviour, follow this up in writing via letter or email. This could be used as evidence at court.

AVOID ‘LANDLORD RAGE’ – Never be tempted to harass the tenant in an attempt to resolve the matter. The penalties for harassment are severe and can result in heavy fines, so always seek professional advice and stick to the correct procedures.

INSTRUCT LEGAL PROFESSIONALS – Landlords or letting agents can draw up and serve the notice themselves but if this is not something you have done before, it is advised to instruct legal professionals who specialise in eviction and who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Even the slightest error in the details of the notice can cause a court to throw a case out, meaning the whole process would have to start again which is costly both in time and financially. If you are unsure about your rights, landlords can call Landlord Action’s free advice line for help on

Landlord Action

8 COMMENTS

  1. The legal system is so unfair who can blame landlords, more often than not they are the victim and the long drawn out legal process puts landlords out of pocket thousands of pounds and allows rogue tenants to ransack the house before eloping. I was in the position myself and it was 50/50 as to whether I went through the courts or simply removed all the trips/fuses from the house and smashed my own front window which will have no doubt spurred them on to leaving quickly. The system is a joke and your article is very one sided although obviously you have to condone the legal route. I bet in many circumstances if the landlord lowered themselves to the tenants standards of behaviour they could have got the property back quicker with less damage.

  2. If landlords are to obey the law, then the law needs to a t swifly and fairly. Tenants are over protected. Things need to change to create a more even playing field, if not I’m sure cases if landlord rage will defiantly increase.

  3. I totally agree with the above comments. over protection of the tenants encourages their criminality!

    I’ve been in this situation myself, although I’ve usually waited a couple of months before acting on the notice I had already issued for rent arrears.

    I never just threw their possessions into the road but had them moved them into professional storage and taken a room in a B&B for a couple of nights to give the tenant a chance to find somewhere else without sleeping on the street. They could reclaim their possessions when they were settled.

    Usually they have moved on without much of a fuss.

    But the law is far too lenient in allowing tenants to steal from landlords and cause criminal damage with ridiculously low fines, that is if you are even lucky enough to have a witness account of such criminal damage. Even these fines don’t go as compensation to the landlord who has incurred repair charges of £100s.

    With the government threatening to remove Section 21, the swifter, no fault eviction process from the landlord’s very limited arsenal of defences against rogue tenants, many landlords have already sold up causing greater scarcity and higher rents.

    Whilst we have a register of rogue landlords, how about a register of rogue tenants.

    The governments of all political stripes no longer want to house these rogue tenants, that is why Maggie Thatcher offered so many Council properties for sale. It was going to repeatedly cost the tax-payers a bomb to repair and renovate these large uncontrollable council estates, so she sold them off for a song! Good idea really!

    So if the private rented sector is expected to house irresponsible tenants with anti-social behaviour patterns, then it needs the teeth to control the situation with a much faster eviction process.

    Oh and please don’t recommend getting good references, these are easy enough to forge!

  4. I need help. My tenants vacated a property after I gave them a section 8 notice and they owed me 3 months in rent They said that they were trying to claim back there deposit from the previous landlord who had not protected it and they were going to court but there was no court demand to the previous landlord or the letting agent who didn’t secure the deposit. They told me that my rent money was being held by their solicitor. But they refused to give me a number or name. And this so called solicitor did not even contact me to say this was happening. Is it not normal protocol that you would get some sort of letter from the solicitors if this was being done. It transpired that they had used some claim company online and got their deposit back and I got evidence of this. I went round there with a family member a few times to try and talk to them and work something out. On 2 occasions they called the police and the police said that we were not harassing them and were there for a genuine lawful reason. I visited 4 times in 3 months.
    So they took a tenancy out on another property. Didn’t tell me they were leaving. Were seen moving their stuff out. I went 4 days later nobody in and window above porch was left open and easily accessible to any would be homeless person on squatter. Went there again next day window still open. I had to think fast and I needed to secure my property and called a locksmith to change locks. Because I didn’t have a key. When I went in. Eveything accept 2 single beds which were stripped and a weights machine had been left. I presumed they took what they could and abandoned the rest. Buy low and behold they returned and called the police. The policeman said as far as I’m concerned their doesn’t seem to be anyone living here. The house was a tip it’s as if they never knew how to use a hoover or cleaning materials. The kitchen was strewn with old foodstuffs and rubbish. It was filthy. I explained the situation to the policeman and the male Tenant was trying to barge into the property and the policeman was ready to arrest him. The policeman said let me speak to this solicitor who is holding her rent money. When they spoke to him he said oh rents been held because there was something wrong with eviction notice. And the police said well you better sort something because I’m ready do make arrests. The policeman said that I should ring the solicitor and arrange for them to pick up the remainder of their things So I was finally given a number by the police who wrote in on his pad and I called the number. And the guy denied he was a solicitor and didn’t know the tenants. I called the police and told the guy the situation he double checked the number and said that’s the correct number. He tried to get hold of the tenants to double check the number. Buy couldn’t get an answer. I messaged the tenants within 24 hours saying the number I called denied he was a solicitor and I offered to give them a key even after their nasty behaviour, lies and gameplaying. Which caused me so much anxiety and stress. But no reply so I was lost. I messaged again a few weeks later saying they needed to take their possessions otherwise I would have to dispose of them and the matter is not over with the rent and kind of threatened them with court. But I didn’t do anything.i didn’t know where they had moved to I didn’t really care. I had a really bad few years with crisis in my life and a close to death experience i couldn’t go through with more heartache and stress. My physical and mental being couldn’t take it. Guess what? 20 months They sent me a court summons claiming £30k for harassment and illegal eviction. They had 6 months left till the end of their tenancy. They still hadnt given me notice even up to now. And on one of the particular of claims they state one of my family members threatened to shoot them. Their are so much lies so much hypothetical claims that never happened. I am in desperate need of help. The property hasn’t been rented out again and their few possessions are still there. I am so scared and frightened can somebody point me to someone who can help. I don’t have £30k plus. Why are these leeches doing this to me ??

  5. I agree with above all. I have had that experience myself. My tenants paid first month’s rent in advance before they moved in. They never paid any rent after that. It was four bedroom property with bigger size rooms. They started subletting immediately and there were in total 12 people living there instead of 5 on the contract. They never paid any rent at all, instead made money at my cost.
    From the time I took legal action it took me about 10 months to get my property back from start of legal action to bailiff’s date. They left just a day before bailiff were to come. I was out of pocket for substantial amount while they made money by subjecting my property which was breach of contract.
    They left my property in diabolical condition and it cost me huge amount to refurbish.
    Redbridge County Court was very very slow to deal with as they were short of magistrates (which they always are) and as a result landlords have to suffer.
    I totally agree that Laws are very lenient for tenants and they can get away in most of the cases unlike landlords.in the end, I could not recover a penny as I believe they absconded to their native country.

  6. And I am on opposite side. I am tenant. Never was late with the rent. Keep the house clean like my own. No anti-social behaviour. When ever something Braked in the house, I inform the landlady asking her fix it. The second day we moved in the door lock broke. She said if was me who broke it. The pipe leaked for 10 days. Huge bill for water. Asked her compensate . She was angry, told me she was tired. She does not want to rent, wants to sell it. I tried to find a buyer to keep on renting it. She all disappear after talking to her. I offered to out in the market while we are here. She does not want. I contacted council. They refuse to give the house until the court decided. They advise me to stay and Not to move out. I won’t. There was no fault on my side. She is just tired of renting. I am single parent. This house is great for my son’s school. Not too far. My mother who disabled resides with me. This house is great for her in every way. All I want is to stay in this house for some more years, paying rent on time. If she goes to court, I do not have other choice… 99% that I will lose. Not all the landlord are nice and poor they…suffering bc of tenants.

  7. You can see by the many comments already, stating how the tenants themselves who have far to much power, with it only getting worse in the future.

    Yet, being pushed to the limits, both stressed beyond extreme and also financially being cripple – is enough for even the ardent Landlord’s to snap, I don’t condone this, but I can certainly empathise to how they’ve reached this point.

    When considering:

    An illegal eviction can be punishable with a fine of up to £20,000!

    This itself, could actually be the cheaper solution, for some Landlord’s faced with an endless situation that supports the Tenant more, only with landlords facing massive bills, and when they’re facing repairs of this amount alone, before any losses in rent is included, it truly is such a disadvantage and precarious situation for many landlords, and legislation should be immediately evened out as soon as feasibly possible.

    I fear for all Landlord’s already in this incredibly stressful situation, when all latest legislation only further supporting the Tenant, they are close to untouchables, especially, if the landlord is unlucky enough to have a tenant knows how to play the system and make use of all laws in their favour, not caring if this then bends every rule in the book – because they seemed to think they will not be held to account.

    Going forward is a very scary situation, and will only damage and devastate the private rental sector, and acting to help put the rents up also.

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