Revenge evictions

In my last article I wrote about the Deregulation Bill which came into effect on 1st October 2015. The provisions within that act regarding so called “Retaliatory or Revenge Evictions” have attracted quit a lot of debate. The new law is intended to prevent landlords from ending a tenancy using a section 21 or ‘no fault’ notice if they fail to address a complaint about the state of repair of the property that is made by their tenant to the local authority.

Firstly the extent of this problem is disputed. The housing charity Shelter suggests that more than 200,000 people in the private sector have faced eviction in the last year because they asked their landlord to fix a problem in their home. This finding is based on a sample of 4500 tenants, 90 (2%) of whom said they were evicted for complaining about disrepair issues.

The figures produced by Shelter suggest there has been a rise in complaints concerning retaliatory or revenge evictions and that it is becoming a major problem. The difficulty is how to prove that issuing possession proceedings really is an act of retaliation against a tenant. Simply serving a Section 21 notice should not be classed as a revenge eviction in every case. There are many reasons a landlord would need or want to serve notice, and so long as they do it correctly, it is their right to do so. In my experience landlords only choose to end a tenancy if it’s absolutely necessary. The overwhelming majority of landlords want their property occupied, rent paid and for their tenants to have a comfortable long-term tenancy. Like any other business they want happy customers and steady income. They’re not out for revenge; we don’t talk about any other service provider seeking revenge from their customers and there is no reason to suspect that landlords are any different. It is therefore important to ensure that the system isn’t abused by those tenants who are simply trying to prolong the evictions process.

There is also debate as to whether the Local Authorities charged with enforcing this law have the necessary resources. The National Landlords Association (NLA) is calling on local councils to provide a clear framework for how they plan to deal with complaints in order to ensure that legitimate ones are taken seriously and that spurious ones don’t unnecessarily prolong the possession process.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer, National Landlords Association (NLA) said: “These kinds of evictions are extremely rare but we have to make sure that complaints by tenants don’t just get lost in the system, regardless of whether they’re legitimate or not. We all know that local councils are under-resourced but housing problems must take priority. If a tenant complains about a potentially hazardous issue then both they and their landlord should have a clear expectation of how and when the council will deal with it. If councils fail to act on complaints then it will undermine the law and tenants’ confidence in a system that’s supposed to protect them”.

Time will tell whether this new legislation proves effective or has unintended consequences.

Parkinson Property

9th October 2015

 

 
 
 
 
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