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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Help available for harassment

Help is available from the Environmental Health Department of your local council. Harassment is illegal, but landlords could try to evict tenants who report them to the council. Landlords can easily evict periodic tenants who don't have a current tenancy agreement, even if the tenant has done nothing wrong. If you are worried about challenging the harassment contact a local advice agency as soon as possible.

Reporting harassment

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.

A landlord who is habitually harassing a tenant should be reported to the local councilAn environmental health officer will investigate your complaint to check if you have been a victim of harassment. The environmental health department may be able to help you resolve the situation without going to court.

You may want to contact the police if:

  • the environmental health department isn't able to help immediately
  • if you have been threatened with violence.

Council investigation

The environmental health department can negotiate with your landlord to sort out problems. If the environmental health department does not think there is not enough evidence to take your landlord to court, the environmental health department can:

  • warn your landlord about the consequences of continuing the harassment
  • officially caution your landlord about the consequences of continuing the harassment.

Contact an advice agency if the council won't prosecute your landlord. There may be other options available.

Help from the police

Although harassment is a criminal offence, the police do not prosecute or investigate unless an additional criminal offence has been committed, such as:

  • burglary
  • assault
  • a breach of the peace.

However, you may want to contact the police so that you can use it as evidence later. If you call the police they should help stop the harassment and help you stay in your home. The police may be unaware of your rights. If possible get a letter from an advice centre setting out your rights.

If you are unwilling to contact the police you may want to:

  • contact local politicians
  • contact a residents' association
  • contact a local community group.

You may be able to use this as evidence later if you need to.

Taking legal action

You may be able to take your landlord to court to:

  • stop the harassment
  • get back in your accommodation.

The environmental health department of your local council or an advice agency can help you to do this. This can be effective as your landlord could be imprisoned if s/he doesn't do what the court ordered. You may also be able to get compensation for what you have suffered because of the harassment. Consult a solicitor for advice on compensation.