Young LGBTQ+ people who are homeless are often faced with many challenges in securing housing or accommodation which meets their needs. We work with many young people who have disabilities, and we aim to provide support and advice to those young people in searching for and securing housing which is safe and accessible.
We have put together this to guide you through the steps you should take as soon as you experience anything distressing from a housemate, neighbour or landlord.
This resource will provide you with advice on who to talk to, your legal rights and what organisations there are to help through these stressful times.
We understand that harassment from a landlord, housemate or neighbour can be particularly traumatic for LGBTQ+ people who may have previously experienced discrimination within their home. We also suggest reaching out to support networks and groups, including helplines to help with the mental health impact of harassment.
If it is an emergency or you are in immediate danger, please call 999. Your safety is more important than the collection of evidence.
What is harassment?
The definition can mean anything from:
- A person entering your home without permission
- A person making demands for money that is not owed
- Someone pressurising you to move out
- Someone expressing violent or intimidating behaviour
- refusal to carry out repairs
None of these forms of harassment are legal even if you are in rent arrears. A comprehensive list of different forms of harassment is listed on Shelter’s website.
Many forms of harassment are based on protected characteristics and so should be considered a hate crime. A short list of these protected characteristics is:
- Gender Identity
If you have experienced these hate crimes, there are many places that can help.
When experiencing harassment of any kind it is a good idea to collect as much evidence as possible.
Any form of communication that has a clear paper trail, such as email, is always a good idea so that it can be used as evidence if the harassment escalates or if legal proceedings are needed. If the harassment is in person audio and visual recordings are recommended – just ensure that you are keeping your safety a priority over the collection of evidence.
As a tenant you should be aware of the rights you have as a tenant. These will likely be outlined in your tenancy agreement, but for any further questions we suggest searching on the Generation Rent website, an excellent resource who we have partnered with to ensure that tenants understand their rights and therefore can fight for them. Some of the common questions and answers they have been:
- Can a landlord increase my rent?
- My energy bills are too high
- My landlord is not fixing something
- I am being evicted, what should I do?
Many of their answers are in depth and provide a simple step by step instructions. Any questions and you can email them on the email provided.
Harassment by your landlord or letting agent
Shelter England have an excellent resource for Private Landlord harassment, covering everything from the definition of harassment, your tenancy rights, to a letter template and the help that is available to you.
The first step in any case of harassment is getting in contact with the landlord to state the issues and how you would like them resolved. We understand that this can be very stressful, so we advise you take advantage of advocacy and advice services like Citizens Advice who can be contacted if their self-help advice guides haven’t provided the answers you need.
In some cases, it may be more appropriate to contact a letting agency before your landlord directly as this will increase the likelihood of a recorded paper trail.
If the landlord does not respond appropriately to the initial discussion of the issues it is best to escalate to a third party such as your local council’s Private Rented Housing team or Shelter. They can contact your landlord or letting agent on your behalf to ensure they are following the law, and to challenge them with legal action if they continue to harass you.
If you live in an HMO (house in multiple occupation) you should check if your landlord has registered for an HMO licence with your local council. Licensing gives local councils more control over landlords and means they can ensure landlords are following the law.
Some of the common issues our young people face is:
- The Landlord turning up unannounced – If you are in this position, please first refer to your tenancy agreement as this will outline the agreed upon notice period. You can then attempt to gather evidence of the landlord’s unlawful entry if you are in a safe position to do so. Then once you have this evidence of the breaking of your tenancy agreement, please submit it to both the local council and your lettings agent or landlord and request a formal complaint is made. If the landlord refuses to go further with this complaint you can contact official bodies like the Housing Ombudsman who can investigate this on your behalf.
- Being evicted after a dispute – Again please ensure you can collect as much evidence as safely as possible, including a detailed timeline of events. If you need help with doing this then reach out to organisations like Shelter, and they will help you process this and support you. A landlord MUST give 2 months’ notice for any “No Fault” eviction. Generation Rent have a resource on what a landlord must do before sending this eviction. This will likely need to be escalated to court.
- Retaliatory eviction after complaint – This has much the same process as the previous, so please reach out to organisations like Shelter or Generation Rent to receive support. Shelter has an excellent resource on what makes an illegal eviction illegal.
Firstly, no eviction can take place without the legal support of a bailiff except in specific circumstances. Secondly, attempt contact with your local council, while there may be delays, please keep trying. If you require additional support a Renters Union will also be able to provide this.
If you feel unsafe, you have the legal right to have the locks changed, though it is advisable to keep the old locks to reinstall at the end of your tenancy. Shelter has an excellent template on writing to your landlord to inform them of the criminal offence they are making by illegally evicting you. This should be sent along with copies of your evidence. There are penalties for illegal eviction, and you may be able to acquire some compensation.
If you are within the London area you can check whether a landlord or letting agents have been prosecuted or fined with the London Gov’s Rogue Landlord Checker.
If your landlord is a housing association, local authority or housing provider and is registered with the Housing Ombudsman then you can escalate the complaint to them. This is easily done through their website, where they will show you the steps of how to process a complaint and what should happen next. The more evidence you provide with this complaint the more the Ombudsman can do.
Harassment by housemates
If you are experiencing harassment from another tenant, then the process is very similar. Ensure that you are gathering as much evidence as possible and that your landlord/letting agent is aware of the situation.
For more guidance we suggest looking at Housing Advice NI’s page on harassment from housemates, although legal advice may differ depending where in the UK you reside.
If you are unsure, please visit the Shelter website and click on the country applicable.
If you have experienced emotional or physical distress as a result of harassment you may be entitled to legal action against the perpetrator. The Law Centres Network may be able to advise whether or not you have a case, and if not, they can help guide you through the legal proceedings of harassment.
Harassment by neighbours
If you are being harassed by neighbours, the advice is mostly the same as for a landlord or roommate.
Please safely collect the evidence you have and reach out to the neighbour in question. Even if this does not resolve the issue it shows and attempt, and your local council or housing association can engage in the complaint.