An illegal eviction occurs where a landlord, through force, intimidation or otherwise (such as cutting off utilities, changing locks etc.) denies a tenant access to their rented dwelling or removes a tenant's belongings from the dwelling regardless of whether or not a valid notice of termination has been served. The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 outlines very precisely the conditions under which a tenancy may be terminated by a landlord and the steps and procedures that must be followed. A landlord can never take the law into his/her own hands.
In a situation where a tenant is in rent arrears, a landlord cannot seizure the tenant's belongings to force payment. Instead there is a clear process for a landlord to follow. They must give 14 days' written notice to the tenant to pay the arrears. If, after this period, the rent arrears have not been paid, the landlord can issue the tenant with a 28 day notice of termination of tenancy.
If the tenancy is a Part 4 Tenancy the landlord must firstly give the tenant a warning that they are in breach of their tenancy obligations by not paying the rent when due.
If a tenant does not comply with a valid notice of termination, the proper recourse for the landlord is to make a complaint to the Residential Tenancies Board(RTB).
What to do
- If your landlord threatens or attempts to remove you from your property, you should contact your local Threshold office immediately. Remember, a landlord may not take the law into his/her own hands.
- Contact the Gardaí immediately if someone is using force to remove from your home
- Contact the Residential Tenancies Board(RTB) and inform them of the fact that you are being illegal evicted.
- Inform your landlord that you have been in contact with the RTB, Threshold and the Gardaí
- Take a sound or video recording of the illegal eviction if you can do so without putting yourself at risk. You should also take photographs.
- In order to prepare for a possible RTB hearing you should keep a log of events, record vehicle number plates, incoming phone numbers, Garda names and numbers etc.
- Make a list of any items you have been denied access to or that have been damaged or lost during the illegal eviction and keep any receipts for replacements
- Keep a record of any other expenses incurred as a direct result of the eviction such as B&B or hotel costs.