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Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Help for private tenants

private tenants

If you rent a home from a private landlord, we offer a wide range of support packages to help you with financial difficulties and to ensure you get the best from your tenancy.

 

Harassment and illegal eviction

Some private landlords put pressure on their tenants to get them to leave their home.

As a private tenant you have legal rights which mean that you cannot be forced out of your home without your landlord first taking you to court.

 

Harassment

Harassment can include anything done by a landlord, their agent or any other person acting on the owner's behalf, which deliberately interferes with and unsettles your home life.

Examples of harassment may include:

  • threats, abuse or actual violence
  • threatening you if you refuse to leave the property
  • cutting off or interfering with services (gas, water or electricity supply)
  • entering your home without your permission
  • changing the locks
  • removing your belongings
  • constant telephone calls and/or text messages

If you are being harassed by your landlord, or someone acting on their behalf, Stockton Council can help.

Contact the Housing Options team for advice about harassment from a landlord.

 

Illegal Eviction

Illegal or unlawful eviction is when a landlord, their agent or any other person acting on the owner's behalf, unlawfully deprives you of all or part of your home or if any person forces you or tries to force you to leave your accommodation without following the correct legal procedure.

The eviction could be by force, by changing locks while you are out or by blocking access to parts of your home.

Examples of illegal eviction may be:

  • changing the locks
  • moving into part of your home
  • physically throwing you out
  • stopping you from using parts of your home

If the landlord wants to legally evict you, they will need to follow the correct legal procedure. The procedure that the landlord will need to follow will depend on the type of tenancy you have. Your landlord will need to give you written notice to leave your tenancy.

If your landlord has asked you to leave, you should contact the Council's Housing Options team to seek advice before you leave the property.

Contact the Housing Options team if you are worried about illegal eviction.

 

Can the landlord end the tenancy by refusing to accept the rent?

The landlords refusal to accept the rent does not bring the tenancy to an end. If the landlord does this, you should continue to offer to pay the rent, put the money in a safe place and seek advice.

Contact the Housing Options team if you are worried that your landlord is attempting to end the tenancy against your wishes.

 

Help with paying your rent

If you do not pay your rent, the money you owe is called 'rent arrears'. You could face eviction from your home if you do not deal with rent arrears.

If you cannot pay your rent, you have missed rent payments or you are worried that you won't be able to make your rent payments, sort things out as soon as you can. Even if you have other debts, make sure you give your rent arrears priority.

If you are worried about rent arrears and have not claimed Local Housing Allowance (Housing Benefit paid to tenants in private rented accommodation), or the Housing Costs Elements of Universal Credit, you may be able to get help. Make sure you tell your landlord if you are waiting to hear about the outcome of a claim.

 

Direct Payments

Local Housing Allowance and the Housing Costs Element of Universal Credit are usually paid to you but can be paid direct to your landlord if you owe more than eight weeks rent.

If you have difficulty managing your money we may be able to make arrangements to pay any Local Housing Allowance direct to your landlord. If you are receiving the Housing Element of Universal Credit you need to contact Universal Credit on 0345 6000 723.

 

Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme

The Tenancy Deposit Protection scheme, introduced in 2007, protects tenants that paid a deposit for an assured short hold tenancy after that date.

This mandatory scheme improves tenants' rights and ensures that their deposits are not unfairly withheld.

Within 14 days of the tenancy starting, the landlord must protect the deposit through one of three Government sponsored schemes. There will be heavy penalties for landlords who fail to safeguard their tenants' deposits.

Following an application by the tenant, the Courts can order the landlord to pay the tenant three times their original deposit as a lump sum payment. Landlords also lose the right to obtain automatic possession of the property under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Visit the GOV.UK website for additional information about the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme.

 

Additional Resources