It seems there’s evidence that some tenants are already taking advantage of a change in the law that prevents landlords trying to evict when there are rent arrears by deliberately damaging property.
A ban on evictions when there are repair issues (the retaliatory eviction legislation introduced 1st October 2015) is subject to abuse if tenants deliberately damage a property to avoid being evicted.
Recent research conducted by PropertyLetByUs.com – a leading online letting agent – shows one in ten tenants admits to causing more than £500 worth of damage to their rented property.
Furthermore, recent stats from the TDS shows that damage to property now accounts for 56% of deposit disputes, up 17% over the last five years (2010 -39%).
Jane Morris, Managing Director of PropertyLetByUs.com comments:
“While in principle the legislation is a good move, ensuring that landlords don’t evict tenants because of a genuine disrepair issue, it is open to dishonest tenants bending the law to avoid eviction.
“Landlords need to ensure that they make regular checks on their properties and handle tenant’s complaints about damage, quickly and efficiently. If landlords are suspicious that the damage is intentional to avoid eviction, they should consult legal advice.”
The new legislation, which came into force on the 1 October 2015, means that landlords who have done nothing about a legitimate repairs request will not be able to use the Section 21 procedure to regain possession of their property.
Asked to comment on the issue, Tom Entwistle editor of LandlordZONE® said:
“We saw this coming some time ago when this legislation was passing. Several industry experts warned the Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP of the dangers in this, but to no avail. I see this becoming a major problem for landlords in the near future.
“We have already had contacts from two landlords who, when sending out letters about rent arrears have been faced with a return letter and a long list of repair items.
“I’m calling this, the reverse side of the coin to retaliatory eviction, “retaliatory dominion” – a reaction from non-paying tenants to calls for overdue rent payments, which in effect says, “This is my domain and I’m staying put – never mind the fact I don’t pay rent”.
“Dealing with the problem could be a nightmarish issue as proving how damage was caused will be extremely difficult if not impossible, and getting repairs done with an unwilling and uncooperative occupant could be even worse.
“There are some strategies that landlords can use to avoid this problem and we will be publishing some guidelines on this shortly.”