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Landlord harassment through the courts?

angry manHere is a question to the blog clinic from Olav who is a tenant

I was served a section 21 notice on January 30. The notice expired on April 2nd this year. When I did not leave on that day, the landlord entered to try to force me out; I was not there, so the guy placed my wellingtons from the cupboard on my pillow as a charming gesture of good will.

Anyway, soon enough I got the court papers and filled out the defence form with evidence of the harassment, an unprotected deposit, various extra-contractual payments that he had forced me to make, and a heap of unprofessional and abusive letters he had sent demanding that I not use facilities and threatening to cut off the water supply to the property, the Court issued a hearing date which was scheduled for July 25th.

My landlord immediately began trying to harass me into leaving the property without going to the court (he ironically referred to this as resolving the matters ‘amicably’). When I made it clear, after he’d blocked my exit whilst I was trying to get to work so that he could try again to talk me into leaving, that I wanted the hearing, he got his solicitor to file a Notice Of Discontinuation with the Court.

I thought the matter was now resolved.

And then he filed new court papers, in the same court, with a notice that I had never been served at all. This notice, he claimed in the claim form of the court, was dated 8th April and expired 9th June.

The Notice of Discontinuation was filed on the 25th June, a month before the scheduled hearing. These new papers were filed on the 28th June, just three days after he’d called off the previous hearing.  I have never seen this notice he’s now claiming to have served.

Is this even legal?

Probably not.  As a tenant you are legally entitled to stay in your property until such time as your landlord has obtained a court order for possession AND a bailiffs appointment.

The court bailiffs (under the authority of the possession order) are the only ones who are legally entitled to actually physically evict you.

What your landlord will need to prove

In order to evict you under section 21, you landlord will need to prove to the court:

  • That you have an assured shorthold tenancy
  • That (if a deposit has been paid) it has been properly protected in accordance with the rules and a notice with prescribed information served on you within 30 days
  • That a properly drafted section 21 notice was served on you, and
  • That the notice period has now expired and you have not moved out

I am afraid that, if he can prove this, your evidence of landlord harassment will not stop the Judge making an order for possession.  That is not a valid defence to a section 21 claim.

I have an ebook which you can get in the Landlord Law Blog shop which covers all the defences that a tenant can bring to a s21 claim which you may find useful.

Suggestions about your case

I suspect that the reason your landlord withdrew the earlier claim was that his solicitor found that there was something wrong with his claim which would stop him getting his possession order – maybe to do with the tenancy deposit protection.

This does not mean that your landlord is entitled to harass you as much as he likes.  Just that landlord harassment is not a defence to a claim for possession under s21.

However if you speak to your Local Authority they should have someone there whose job it is to advise tenants who are being harassed by their landlord and he (or she)  should be able to help you.

However they WON’T be able to prevent your landlord evicting you in due course if he gets his paperwork right .  Many landlords are now finding that they are not able to use section 21 because they failed to deal with the tenancy deposit properly.  I suspect that this is the case with your landlord.

But it is a problem which can be corrected.

Sources of help

Probably the best thing for you is to get some proper legal advice.

Shelter have a telephone advice line (and a lot of free online information), or there are some paid advice services on my Landlord Law site.

Or if there is a law centre in your area they would be a very good source of help and advice.



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Important note. If you are reading an old post, remember that the law may have changed since it was written.




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3 Responses to Landlord harassment through the courts?

  1. This sort of thing is sooooooo common. I dont know why landlords dont just do things properly and stop all this nonsense of going through the court procedures whilst at the same time trying to harass or at least, coerce the tenant into leaving.

    If this case came to me, particularly the matter of the wellies and physically obstructing your exit Olav I would seriously consider obtaining an ex parte injunction against him as a prelude to a claim for breach of covenant for quiet enjoyment. It depends whether your council’s adviser/TRO would do this. We do in our council.

  2. “I dont know why landlords dont just do things properly and stop all this nonsense of going through the court procedures whilst at the same time trying to harass or at least, coerce the tenant into leaving.”

    They do it because the section 8 procedure is unfit for purpose
    -To the detriment of good tenants as well as landlords.
    It’s a fair bet that the landlord above is not evicting on some whim but that there is an underlying reason and section 21 is his only route.
    I’m not condoning BTW, just explaining.

    “If this case came to me, particularly the matter of the wellies and physically obstructing your exit Olav I would seriously consider obtaining an ex parte injunction against him as a prelude to a claim for breach of covenant for quiet enjoyment. It depends whether your council’s adviser/TRO would do this. We do in our council.”

    Are things really quiet at the moment Ben?
    It’s a pair of wellies (allegedly), not an horses head.
    Would you not ask for the landlords version of events or for supporting evidence first?

    Reminds me of an old Chinese proverb;
    When jumping in with both feet it’s best to wear protective wellies.

  3. Haha Of course I wouldnt ask for the landlords version of events. I’d take boot prints from the wellies and then try to track him down using Interpol.

    And yes, it has been a bit quiet this week :)




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About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law. She runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 12th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google



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Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.


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