Before the ink is dry on amendments to tenancy laws brought in by the Deregulation Bill 2015, designed to prevent so called “revenge evictions”, the Association of Residential Landlords (ARLA) is calling for a re-think.
ARLA, the letting agents’ professional association, has told industry journal PROPERTYdrum that it is calling on the Government to reconsider the retaliatory eviction measures in the Bill which ARLA claims will have unintended consequences; dishonest tenants using the new rules to evade legitimate possession claims.
The Coalition Government, following vigorous lobbying from the homelessness charities, with Lib Dem Communities Minister Stephen Williams, lent its support to combating “retaliatory evictions” through Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather’s Private Members’ Bill, which later became the Tenancies (Reform) Bill.
But following its defeat in the Commons last November, it was taken up by Lib Dem Peers and tagged on to the Deregulation Bill passing through the Lords. The Bill, which included several other measures affecting private residential tenancies, was given Royal assent on the 26th of March.
Teather and her supporters claimed the Bill would put a stop to retaliatory evictions once and for all – preventing landlords evicting tenants who make a complaint about essential repairs or poor conditions in their homes.
The new legislation, as it stands, and when it comes into force, it is thought, in October 2015, will prevent any landlord from serving a valid section 21 notice requiring possession on a tenant for a minimum period of six months if they make a complaint about the state of their property.
But the legislation has been criticised for imposing rules that can be exploited by bad tenants.
David Cox (left), Managing Director of ARLA, told PROPERTYdrum:
“The provisions in the Act designed to prevent retaliatory evictions by landlords, creates a number of unintended consequences. ARLA supports the principle of legislation seeking to stop landlords from evicting tenants in response to a genuine disrepair issue. The measures will mean that protections previously afforded to compliant landlords may be eroded by dishonest tenants using the new powers to defend against legitimate possession proceedings; possibly by intentionally causing damage to properties.”
The measure is also being strongly opposed by the Central Landowners’ Association (CLA) an organisation which represents landowners, farmers and other rural businesses.
CLA President Henry Robinson (right) told PROPERTYdrum:
“We support action to prevent retaliatory evictions but this law will not stop bad landlords evicting tenants. It is much more likely to give tenants that are damaging the property or not paying their rent scope to delay eviction. As a result it will cause significant uncertainty for thousands of responsible landlords throughout rural communities.
“This is the definition of bad policy making. It imposes a poorly designed, burdensome new regulation as part of a law that is supposed to be about “deregulation”. By forcing through this law, Ministers risk setting back significantly the opportunity for putting in place measures that will tackle the minority of bad landlords that we agree should be targeted with regulation.”
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) March 31, 2015