Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

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%).

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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.”

Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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4 COMMENTS

  1. The government know what they are doing. They want to reduce the number of small private landlords. Legislation will be designed so it is only the \’big boys\’ who can cope. Much is already in place but more will come. H&S, immigrants checks and prescriptive procedures, will all be promoted by those with an axe to grind.
    Tenants will become more aware of these laws as certain groups advertise their services in making a claim.
    Happy Xmas Landlords and may your god protect you from the vultures in the New Year.

  2. As a landlord for over 20 years I must say we have had only two and one of those was from a tenants boyfriend.
    Reading the articles on tenant abuse of properties I can only say that in the end what will happen is there will be fewer rented properties available resulting in higher rents.
    Those who will suffer the most will be the lower spectrum and first timers who will find it almost impossible to find rented accommodation. We have learn not to let to young single people as they have no idea how to keep a home, those with limited resource and those on social welfare or rent support.
    As usual the Government in attempting to protect a section of society makes it worse for the most vulnerable they seek to protect through ill thought out legislation and the resulting unintended consequences.
    In my view the Government should resist interfering in the market and let the market deal with the issues. As a landlord I want good tenants that are happy, look after the property and pay their rent on time. If tenants do their homework before signing up to rent a property then they should avoid poor landlords; this is the way it should work.

  3. So now landlords will have to produce more often, works, receipts, evidence that every room is in perfect condition, maybe every 6 months or less? More expenditure in order to show everything was in perfect condition in that month that the tenant claims

  4. There may be a solution for some landlords, and as an anonymous contributor I can tell you what I am trying.

    The tenant deliberately damages the property and because nobody working for me can get anywhere near the work I ask the council’s environmental health team to get the work done and bill me. This ensures that there is no claim from the tenant for non-repair. The work is often terrible (I love my building and hate to see it) but by definition is of an acceptable standard.

    That is stage one. I do not even try to evict the tenant.

    Stage two is to ask him to pay for the repairs because I enjoy doing that knid of work and he is preventing me (this is true – I am not into lying).

    Stage 3 he inevitablydoes not pay, and after the deadline for paying I commence a claim through the county court.

    This has happened 5 times (in the case of my tenant) and he seems to have stopped damaging the building and to be searching for another strategy to make a claim against me.

    I have a total of 5 claims waiting for judgment, but as the tenant is an assured periodic tenancy I still cannot evict him. So now I collect the rent (paid by the government, of course, for far more space than he needs) and am only left with the problem of how to get at the work that needs doing that is not part of his tenancy.

    I think he will owe me some seriously big money soon.

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