Homes are places of safety and security. Sadly, for some renters, illegal evictions can put a stop to that. In an illegal eviction, a tenant is forcibly evicted from their home without due process. These evictions frequently involve violence and theft of the tenant’s possessions.
Unfortunately, illegal evictions are on the rise, reaching record-breaking levels. Meanwhile, convictions for rogue landlords remain only in double digits.
In this post, we’ll explain the statistics, what counts as an illegal eviction, and how you can seek legal support for tenants if you’re affected by an illegal eviction.
What are the illegal eviction figures in the UK?
According to research from the housing charity Safer Renting, there were 8,748 cases involving illegal evictions in 2022. This is a 12% increase on 2021, when 7,778 cases were recorded. These statistics put illegal evictions at record breaking levels.
Meanwhile, those high statistics are not reflected in landlord convictions. In 2022, only 26 landlords were convicted for conducting illegal evictions. That represents just 0.3% of the reported cases from that year.
Current illegal eviction statistics are also likely to be underestimated. That’s because the government does not gather official data on the number of illegal evictions in the UK. The Safer Renting statistics were drawn from cases recorded by charities that support victims of illegal evictions.
What counts as an illegal eviction?
Illegal evictions occur when a landlord forces a tenant out of their home without going through the proper procedure.
Not sure what counts as an example of an illegal eviction? Your eviction is illegal if your landlord or someone acting on their behalf…
- Forces you out of your home through threats or harassment
- Uses violent or physical force to make you leave your home
- Changes the locks on your property whilst you’re out
- Evicts you without notice or a court order (in most cases)
Whilst some people mistakenly believe that illegal evictions are a matter for the civil courts only, they are a criminal offence. Landlords who commit an illegal eviction can receive an unlimited fine and/or up to two years in prison.
Can a landlord evict you without a court order?
In most cases, the answer is “no”. Your landlord is required to give a valid section 21 or 8 notice. They’ll need to obtain a court order, as well as request a warrant. This warrant will require a specific date for the court bailiff to enforce the eviction. If your landlord does not follow these rules, this would be an illegal eviction.
You should only be evicted by an official court bailiff. This is the case if you’re a private, housing association or council tenant, or in student accommodation (i.e., “living in halls”).
However, there are some exceptions, where you can be evicted by the landlord themselves – and without a court order. These exceptions apply if you’re…
- a lodger
- in emergency homeless accommodation
- an asylum seeker in Home Office accommodation
- in a public sector hostel
- living in rent-free accommodation
- staying in holiday accommodation
- classed as having “no right to rent” and your landlord has received notice from the Home Office about this
However, there are still rules they need to follow – and this includes ensuring that you are not harassed. You can read more about the guidelines and exceptions on the Shelter website.
Seeking support after an illegal eviction
Illegal evictions are frightening and overwhelming. If you think you’ve been evicted illegally, there are steps you can take. If the illegal eviction would leave you homeless, your local council has a duty to step in.
Your landlord also has a responsibility to either return your belongings to you or let you pick them up.
You should also contact an experienced tenant solicitor as soon as possible. You may be able to apply for a court order to return to your home. Alternatively, you may also be entitled to compensation.
Expert advice from landlord and tenant solicitors
Whilst the current figures are not reassuring for renters, there are other steps that tenants can take to protect themselves from rogue landlords. If you have been evicted illegally, or feel you are at risk, then our experienced landlord and tenant solicitors can help.
From defending against an eviction to preparing a defence of a tenant’s actions in court, we can support you through every step of the process. Whether you need legal advice or representation, you’ll be in expert hands.