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Private tenant rights

Advice for private tenants

You are often able to solve your problem quickly by speaking to your landlord first. Tell them what the problem is and ask them to fix it. You can also:

  • use your landlord's complaints procedure if they have one 
  • ask about it at your landlord's office or get information from their website
  • complain to your landlord by letter if they do not have a complaints procedure.

Your landlord may then want to investigate the reported issue, you should keep clear notes, take photos or videos, keep a diary of events or simply try to cooperate if they wish to look at a problem such as damp or a broken window.

Allow them time to respond, if they don't or they respond, and you are not satisfied with the course of action offered or taken, you can put in a complaint to the landlord or the managing letting agent.

If you don't know who your landlord is, you should contact the person you pay your rent to.

If you don't feel you can approach your landlord, then allow the Tenancy Sustainment Officer to make enquiries for you. You are able to contact the Tenancy Sustainment Officer by calling on 0208 724 8898 emailing prpl@lbbd.gov.uk

The Tenancy Sustainment Officer may refer you to other services.

If your landlord does not respond according to the law they may be prosecuted, however the Tenancy Sustainment Officer will try to resolve the situation via mediation and correct issue of relevant notices.

Report disrepairs Toggle accordion

If you have a fault or damage to your home or the fittings and appliances that belong to the landlord, you should:

  • report the problem, in writing, to your landlord or managing agent of your home. Visit Shelter's website​ for further advice on how to report problems and for a template letter you can use. You should keep copies of all letters that you send.
  • follow up your report with an email or letter and keep a copy so you have a record of the problem - you will need to produce this written evidence if you need to approach the council with a complaint about housing disrepairs not responded to by the landlord. A follow up template can be found on Shelter's website.
  • take photographs of the problem.

If your landlord doesn't do the repair, or takes too long

You must allow enough time and give your landlord access to the property to allow them to do the repair.

If your landlord refuses to do the repair, takes too long to do it or doesn't answer you, we can:

  • give you advice
  • talk with your landlord
  • where appropriate, take action to make sure the repairs are carried out. 

When we receive a disrepair complaint you will need to provide a copy of any correspondence provided by you to your landlord detailing the disrepair issues. If you have not formally notified your landlord of the defects then we will not take any formal action, unless an emergency issue has been reported. You are still expected to report emergency problems to your landlord first. Once you have provided your correspondence and other evidence, such as photographs, the severity of the problem will be assessed and classified either as:

  • an urgent problem
  • a less urgent problem.

All licensed properties will then receive a licence conditions audit. This is a legal request for the licence holder to submit a number of relevant documents, including:

  • up to date inspection records
  • gas safety certificates
  • electrical safety certificates
  • tenancy deposit paperwork
  • tenancy agreements. 

Unlicensed properties will be referred to the Licensing Enforcement team for further investigation.

If your case is assessed as an urgent problem, an officer will then make contact to assess the defect(s) and take the appropriate action (which could be the issue of a legal notice and subsequent legal action). 

For less urgent cases, the council will wait for a response to the licence condition audit. A failure to respond, or where the response is inadequate or unsatisfactory, will normally result in enforcement action. Additionally, the case officer may then determine that a visit to your property is necessary. They will then inspect and take the appropriate action, similar to the process described above for urgent cases.

If, however, the response is satisfactory then the case will be closed. You will be notified of this prior to the case being closed. At this point if you still have evidence of serious defects in your property then you are advised to take photographs to submit to the case officer to consider the next course of action. Unless there are serious outstanding defects the case will be closed.

Email prpl@lbbd.gov.uk or call us on 020 8724 8898.

Harassment and illegal eviction Toggle accordion

What is harassment?

Harassment can include anything which prevents you living safely and peacefully in your home. Tenants have had their lives made a misery without realising that they are protected under law and can get something done about it. Harassment is:

  • an action by a landlord or someone acting on their behalf
  • it is likely to interfere with the peace or comfort of someone who has a legal right to live in a property
  • it breaches your right to "quiet enjoyment", which means the right to live peacefully in your home

If anyone interferes with this right they could be committing a criminal offence

Harassment varies from the most brutal and violent acts to the more subtle, which can still be frightening and distressing.

 Examples of harassment include:

  • entering your home when you are not there or without your permission
  • persistently asking you to leave
  • threatening you to make you leave, or offering you money to leave
  • removing or restricting utility supplies such as water, gas or electricity supplies or failing to pay bills so that they are eventually disconnected
  • forcing you to sign agreements which are designed to reduce your rights
  • allowing the property to fall into such a bad state of repair that it becomes uncomfortable or even dangerous to live in
  • refusing to let you into certain parts of your home, or letting you in, or letting you use facilities only at certain times
  • harassment because of your race, sex or sexuality

What is illegal eviction?

Most people who live in private rented accommodation can only be required to leave their home if the County Court has made a Possession Order against them. Any attempt to evict a tenant without following the correct legal procedure is called an illegal eviction.

It is a criminal offence if a landlord or their agent evicts a tenant without a Court Order.

Examples of illegal eviction are:

  • changing the locks
  • stopping a tenant using part of their home
  • forcibly throwing tenants out

What the law says

Most people who live in privately rented accommodation can only be made to leave their home if:

  • they have been served the correct Notice and
  • a Possession Order has been granted against them by the County Court

Even then, they can only be lawfully evicted by County Court bailiffs.  There are laws which make it a criminal offence to evict a tenant or lawful occupier without a Court Order, or to harass tenants in the ways we described above.

If a landlord is convicted of harassment or illegal eviction, they can be given an unlimited fine and/or sent to prison for up to 2 years. You may also be able to sue the landlord yourself and get damages to compensate you for what you have suffered.

If your landlord lives with you

The rules are different for tenants who live and share facilities (e.g. a bathroom or kitchen) with their landlord. The landlord still has to give "reasonable notice", but there is no requirement for a Court Order, and if the landlord evicts them after the notice has expired, there is probably no action they can take.

What to do if you think you are being harassed or threatened with unlawful eviction

  1. Get in touch with Private Sector Housing or Housing Advice Service or the Citizens Advice Bureau immediately. We can help you by advising you on your rights and by investigating your complaint of harassment or illegal eviction. We have the power to prosecute your landlord for the criminal offences of harassment and/or illegal eviction.
  2. Keep a record or diary detailing incidents/threats that have occurred, including dates and times
  3. Try to ensure that all communication is in writing
  4. Keep a record of the names and addresses of anyone who has been involved, for instance any witnesses or police involved
  5. If you have to deal with the landlord in person, try to have someone present with you as a witness when seeing the landlord
  6. Write to the landlord to say that if the harassment continues you may be forced to leave and/or take legal action
  7. Report all events to the our Housing Advice Service. Police or a solicitor
  8. If you are being harassed, or suffered illegal eviction, you can apply to the County Court to get a Court order. This will require your landlord to refrain from harassing you and /or reinstate you to or home if you have been unlawfully evicted. This can be an effective form of action, because if your landlord breaches the order, he/she could be sent to prison.  You can also seek advice regarding compensation for harassment or unlawful eviction. Bear in mind, though, that in order for a prosecution to be successful, strong evidence is required and you will have to attend court as a witness

The Council's powers under the protection from Eviction Act 1977

Harassment and illegal eviction as defined in the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, are criminal offences.

The Council has a power to prosecute persons who commit offences. The Council's Housing Officers investigate complaints and mediate between the parties wherever possible.

The Council will consider bringing a prosecution where the evidence is sufficient to indicate the likelihood of a successful prosecution and where it is in the public interest.

The Council's Powers under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as amended

The Council has powers to prosecute landlords who fail to fulfil their obligations under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, as amended.

Such matters include the failure of landlords to provide rent books and the failure of freeholders to give long leasehold tenants information concerning service charges and insurance.

Where a complaint is received the Council's Housing Officers will endeavour to secure that the required information is provided. However, in the case of persistent failure to provide the information a prosecution will be considered.

The Council's Powers under S.33 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976

The Council has a power under S.33 Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, to make arrangements to secure the restoration or continuance of gas, water or electricity supplies for the benefit of residents (usually tenants) where the supplies have been, or are likely to be, cut off because of failure by the owner of the property to pay for the services.

The Council will consider making such arrangements only as a last resort for emergency cases and then only when young children or elderly persons are affected.

When invoking its powers, the Council will only make arrangements with the suppliers which do not involve financial liability falling upon the Council. In every case the Council will co-operate closely with the suppliers and wherever possible enlist the suppliers' support and assistance.

For further information on the above or any other issues you may have with your private tenancy, please use the contact details - we may be able to offer some advice and assistance.

Retaliatory eviction Toggle accordion

Retaliatory eviction is where a tenant makes a legitimate complaint to their landlord about the condition of their property and, in response, instead of making the repair, the landlord serves them with a section 21 asking them to leave.

If a tenant has an assured shorthold tenancy or a renewal agreement which started on or after 1 October 2015 and is given a section 21 notice it will be invalid where all these apply - 

  • before the section 21 notice was issued, the tenant made a complaint in writing by email or letter to the landlord regarding the condition of the property. A tenant will be considered to have made a complaint if they did not know the landlord's postal or email address, or had made reasonable efforts to contact the landlord to complain but could not
  • the landlord -
    • failed to provide a response within 14 days of the complaint
    • did not describe the action they would take to fix the problem or give a reasonable timescale within which action would be taken
    • served a section 21 notice following the complaint being made by the tenant
  • the tenant then complained to the council about the same or a very similar issue
  • the council sent the landlord a housing improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice because the property was found, following a visit in response to the complaint, to have a serious health or safety hazard
  • and if the section 21 notice was not given before the tenants complaint to the council, it was given before the service of the relevant notice

If the council serve a landlord with a relevant housing notice, a valid section 21 cannot be issued within six months of the councils’ notice. A section 21 will be valid if it is served after six months have passed.

The situation does not apply where a landlord uses a section eight court procedure for evicting a tenant. In order for a landlord to rely on the section eight procedure, there are certain grounds that have to be met, for example, where a tenant fails to pay the rent or has been involved in antisocial behaviour.

Private Rented Property Licensing team

Barking Town Hall, 1 Clock House Avenue, Barking IG11 7LU

020 8724 8898

PRPL@lbbd.gov.uk

Housing Advice team

John Smith House, Bevan Avenue, Barking IG11 9LL

020 8215 3002

housingadviceservice@lbbd.gov.uk

Empty or dilapidated properties Toggle accordion

Long-term empty properties

We try to keep the number of long-term empty properties in the borough as low as possible. We are committed to taking action to bring properties which are left vacant for no good reason back into residential use.

If the property is not returned to residential use and it is having a detrimental effect on the local area, we may consider enforcement action.

Residential properties

A long-term empty property is a property that has been empty for more than six months. When we become aware of such a property we will work with the owners, offering advice and support to help them return the property to residential use.

Empty homes grants

In some cases, empty homes grants of up to £20,000 could be available to owners to help bring the property back into residential use.

We can offer advice about the options for letting that are available to private tenants, private sector leasing and repairing and improving the property for letting with an empty homes grant.

Contact us

If you want to report an empty property or you are interested in applying for an empty homes grant, contact our Empty Property Unit.

Compulsory purchase orders Toggle accordion

Compulsory purchase orders are used as a last resort when owners of properties refuse to take action to improve the condition of their land or buildings. In these circumstances, using powers issued under Section 17 of the Housing Act 1985, we can bring empty properties back into residential use.

A housing gain would be achieved by selling the properties on the open market. The prospective purchasers would enter into a covenant with us to ensure the properties are fully renovated within a defined timescale and brought back to residential use.

Contact us

If you have any queries about compulsory purchase orders, contact our Empty Property Unit.

82 Oval Road South

Compulsory purchase orders issued

82 Oval Road South compulsory purchase order (PDF, 177.15 KB)

82 Oval Road South statement of reasons (PDF, 329.61 KB)

Compulsory purchase order confirmations

On 12 October 2017 the compulsory purchase order for 82 Oval Road South was confirmed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with modifications to Table 1 of the Order.  Notice of confirmation of the order and notice of intention to make a general vesting declaration was published in the Barking and Dagenham Post and the London Gazette on Wednesday 8 November 2017, from which date the order became operative.

82 Oval Road South confirmation of compulsory purchase order (PDF, 182.00 KB)

82 Oval Rd South General Vesting Declaration (PDF, 131.45 KB)

Empty Property Unit

020 8215 3002

carson.millican@lbbd.gov.uk