Some landlords overestimate their right over the property they own, even when tenants are paying their rent and abiding by all of the clauses of the contract.
Often the intentions of the Landlord are good, but some landlords’ actions may well overstep the mark and become intimidating or manipulative.
Your rights as a tenant:
Quiet enjoyment – Essentially this means that the property is yours under the law to enjoy and to be left alone, uninterrupted without harassment from your landlord or anyone acting on behalf of the landlord.
This right may be written into the contract you have signed but even if it is not, this does not matter. This right derives from common law ensuring that quiet enjoyment is built into tenancies even if it is not mentioned in your contract.
Breaches of Quiet Enjoyment – Landlords could breach your quiet enjoyment through the following actions:
• Entering the property without notice, particularly on repeated occasions
• Entering the property without you being there
• Failing to carry out essential repairs
• Changing the utility suppliers without telling you
Depending on the relationship you have with your landlord and the issue, there may be some scope to talk to your landlord to discuss this through verbally.
If not (and possibly as a precaution anyway), you should put your concerns in writing to your landlord as well as any agreements you may have reached with them.
If you feel uncomfortable in doing this, then you could get assistance from your student adviser to help with this.
Depending on the frequency and the severity of the act(s), breaches of quiet enjoyment can be described as harassment. Landlord harassment can be described as:
• Pressure or intimidating a tenant using aggressive methods to leave the property
• Disconnection of the property’s utilities
• Threats of violence or actual violence
• Threats of eviction without correct paperwork or procedure
• Persistent and aggressive pursuit of rent payments
Actions like this are illegal and if tenants find themselves in this situation, they can ask for help to take action against their landlord through speaking to their local council or to the Police as harassment is a criminal act.
Sometimes landlords will act deliberately to end their tenants’ occupation of the property without going through the correct legal channels. Landlords may choose to:
• Disconnect utilities such as the water supply
• Change the locks to deliberately prevent access
• Remove all tenant possessions from the property destroying them / throwing them away
A valid eviction of an assured shorthold tenant should be through the issuing of a valid notice to quit by court action if tenants don’t leave.
Any eviction which does not follow this process is illegal eviction and a criminal offence. A criminal prosecution can be brought by the Police or the council.
If you feel your landlord or the agents of the landlord are breaching your quiet enjoyment, then the first step is to record the events in question by creating a diary.
Record all of the events that you feel are relevant and are potentially making you feel uncomfortable. Get legal advice as soon as you feel that a pattern is emerging and this issue is constant, not just a one off.
If the breach of quiet enjoyment becomes threatening and you feel you are being harassed or about to become illegally evicted, you should seek advice immediately.