A landlord who continually acts in a way that is designed to make a tenant leave the property could be guilty of harassment. Most landlords in Northern Ireland are professional and understand that they cannot act in this way. Landlords who harass tenants should be reported to the local council.
Forcing a tenant to leave a property
A landlord usually harasses a tenant to force the tenant to leave. This could be because the landlord wants to sell the property and its value is much higher without a sitting tenant. The landlord may be unwilling or unable to use legal procedures to get the tenant to leave. The landlord may try to make life so uncomfortable for the tenant, so that the tenant leaves voluntarily. Harassment could include
- threatening or abusive behaviour
- habitually entering the property without permission
- insisting on carrying out unnecessary repairs to annoy the tenant
- cutting off services such as water or electricity.
Harassed by someone other than the landlord
Harassment can only be carried out by your landlord or someone acting for your landlord, like an estate agent or a builder. Legally, your landlord or the agent will only be legally responsible if the behaviour is intended to stop you living peacefully in your home, but it can include a wide range of behaviour
- any threatening, abusive or offensive behaviour motivated byyour race, gender, sexuality or religion
- constantly calling round late at night or without warning
- threatening you
- entering your home when you're not there or without your permission
- allowing your home to get into such a bad state of repair that it's dangerous for you to stay
- leaving building works unfinished
- sending in builders without notice
- insisting that you sign agreements that reduce your rights.
Your landlord or agent won't be guilty of harassment if it can be proved that there was a good reason for carrying out the actions. However, some actions, such as cutting off or restricting services such as electricity, hot water or heating, are so serious your landlord will be guilty of harassing you even if they have a good reason for their actions.
Dealing with harassing behaviour
Don't wait until the harassment is obvious or intentional before acting. You can:
- ask your landlord to stop
- keep evidence of what happens
- go to an advice centre for help
- ask your landlord to put all communication with you in writing
- write to the landlord saying if the harassment continues you will take legal action.
If you are still having problems you are best to contact the Environmental Health Department of your local council.