I'm getting harassment from my neighbour / landlord
The law protects people living in a residential property against harassment and illegal eviction. It does this in two ways: by making harassment and illegal eviction a criminal offence, and by enabling someone who is harassed or illegally evicted to claim damages through the civil court.
What constitutes harassment?
Harassment can occur in many forms. It's described as 'causing alarm or distress' and also as 'putting people in fear of violence'. It can include, but is not limited to, the following types of behaviour:
- threats of violence against you or an actual act of violence committed upon you
- abusive and/or insulting behaviour or words
- threats of damage to your property and possessions or actual damage to them
- any written form of abuse or threat made to you, including letters, graffiti or any other kind of written material such as posters being put up that are derogatory towards you
Harassment can be any type of behaviour or action taken towards you which threatens your own sense of security and peace or which causes you unnecessary inconvenience.
What can you do if you are a victim of harassment?
If you feel that you are being harassed, you should immediately notify the police. It’s also useful if you have kept a written record of all the occasions when any harassment has taken place. Even if you haven’t gathered all of this information or you do not know who might be responsible, just give the police as much information as you can. The more you can tell them, the quicker and easier it will be to get the harassment to stop and to instigate any legal proceedings that might be necessary. Once you have been interviewed by the police, they will be on hand to offer you any advice while they conduct their investigations.
What if I live in rented accommodation?
If you live in rented accommodation, you should also inform your Landlord, your Housing Officer or Housing Association who can offer you additional support. If your perpetrator lives in the same building as you for example, they can also confront them and warn them about possible tenancy agreement breaches, and the possibility of eviction. Denbighshire County Council will do all it can to help you remain in your home and you should not feel under any pressure in having to move.
The Protection from Eviction Act 1977
If you are a tenant and privately rent your property, the law makes it an offence to:
- do acts likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of a tenant or anyone living with him or her; or
- persistently withdraw or withhold services for which the tenant has a reasonable need to live in the premises as a home
It is an offence to do any of the things described above intending, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that they would cause the tenant to leave their home, or stop using part of it, or stop doing the things a tenant should normally expect to be able to do. It is also an offence to take someone’s home away from him or her unlawfully.
The precise offences are set out in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, which has been made stronger by the Housing Act 1988.
A person who is convicted by magistrates of an offence under the Protection from Eviction Act may have to pay a maximum fine of £5,000, or be sent to prison for six months, or both. If the case goes to the Crown Court, the punishment can be prison for up to two years, or a fine, or both.