Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

The Coalition Government has Thursday announced the introduction of measures in the form of an amendment to the Deregulation Bill currently progressing through Parliament with the aim of preventing so call retaliatory of ‘revenge” evictions.

Under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, since its introduction, landlords have been afforded a no-fault eviction process where they do not need to provide a reason for seeking possession. This is providing the initial tenancy term has ended (not less than 6 months) and that a notice of a minimum of 2 months has ended before applying for a court order for possession.

In all cases, unless the landlord has made procedural errors in notices and/or the court application, and not complied with other regulations such as deposit protection, the issue of a possession order is mandatory – the court has no choice but to issue one.

Despite this being a lengthy and sometimes expensive process, something most landlords are reluctant to get involved in, it appears that a minority of landlords, what for the want of a better term can be called “rogue landlords” are using the no-fault eviction process when tenants complain about the need for repairs, rather than addressing the repair issues.

- Advertisement -

The Government says the measures to be introduced will prevent this small minority of rogue landlords who, rather than meet their legal duty to keep their properties at a reasonable standard and remove health and safety hazards, evict their tenants instead.

Despite the Government giving local authorities an extra £6.7 million to tackle rogue landlords, money they are using to carry out inspections of rental properties and prosecute landlords who fail to provide safe accommodation, they say this move is necessary and designed to target only the bad landlords, and cannot be used by tenants to frustrate legitimate evictions.

Communities Minister Stephen Williams has said:

“We’re determined to create a bigger, better private rented sector – a key part of that is to tackle the minority of rogue landlords that blight the lives of their tenants.

“That’s why I’m proposing changes to the law that would outlaw retaliatory evictions, so tenants don’t face the prospect of losing their home simply for asking that repairs be made.”

However, landlords and landlord associations have concerns about the move. Despite supporting the amendments to the serving of section 21 notices, the tenancy deposit rules, and that fact that tenant complaints must be put in writing to give landlords time to deal with them before escalating the issue, there are grave reservations about some of the proposed retaliatory eviction rules.

Given the complexity that these purposed measures introduce to the landlord / tenant relationship, landlords argue that it will become a lawyer’s charter and an open invitation for tenants to stymie landlords, where landlords will have all to lose and tenants have all to gain by dragging out a long and expensive legal process in courts that are already overloaded.

The potential for long delays, both by local authority inspectors and the already overloaded courts, when tenants in dispute with their landlord often pay no rent, they argue, is very obvious.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) have said Thursday, of particular concern is:

“Section 2 (b) (iii). Under this a Section 21 notice would be invalid where a landlord issues one following a complaint being made by the tenant. The RLA is concerned that landlords who seek to issue a Section 21 notice because of a tenant not paying their rent or committing anti-social behaviour could be prevented from doing so because it happened to coincide also with a complaint being made by a tenant about conditions in the properties. The RLA believes a better approach would be that proof has to be given that a Section 21 notice has been given directly in response to a complaint as opposed to another legitimate reason such as tenant rent arrears of poor behaviour.

“Section 3. Once a landlord has received a written complaint from a tenant, they would then have 14 days to provide an “adequate response” to the problem raised which would need to outline how the landlord intends to deal with the complaint in a “reasonable timescale”. The RLA believes clarity is needed as to who would decide what an “adequate response” and a “reasonable timescale” would be. This potentially becomes a substantial lawyer’s charter, bogging tenants and landlords in court processes that are already unable to cope with the volume of work they have at present. The RLA therefore calls on the Government to undertake a review on the capacity and ability of the courts and local authorities to process the extra work that this would inevitably entail.

“Amendment 46B, Section 1. This would mean that a landlord’s Section 21 rights would not be curtailed where the problem is as a result of tenant actions. For example, mould in the property due to tenants leaving washing to dry in the house without ventilating it properly by opening windows. The RLA believes again that this would create huge pressures on the courts as landlords and tenants dispute who is or is not responsible for a problem in the property.”

The proposed amendment would add a further section (section 21A) to the Housing Act 1988, as follows:

BARONESS BAKEWELL OF HARDINGTON MANDEVILLE, BARONESS GRENDER, LORD STONEHAM OF DROXFORD, LORD TOPE

Insert the following new Clause—

“Preventing retaliatory evictions

In the Housing Act 1988, after section 21 insert— “21A Preventing retaliatory evictions

(1) A notice under section 21(1)(b) or (4)(a) (a “section 21 notice”) may not be given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England within six months beginning with the day of service of a relevant notice in relation to the dwelling-house.
(2) A section 21 notice given in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England is invalid if—
(a) before the section 21 notice was given, the tenant made a relevant complaint in relation to the dwelling-house to the landlord or the relevant local housing authority, and
(b) since the section 21 notice was given, the relevant local housing authority has served a relevant notice in relation to the dwelling-house.
(3) It is a defence to proceedings for an order under section 21 in relation to an assured shorthold tenancy of a dwelling-house in England that—
(a) before the section 21 notice was given, the tenant made a relevant complaint in relation to the dwelling-house to the landlord or the relevant local housing authority, and
(b) subsection (4) applies.
(4) This subsection applies if—
(a) the relevant local housing authority has not decided whether to inspect the dwelling-house or the common parts,
(b) the relevant local housing authority has decided to inspect the dwelling-house or the common parts but has not conducted an inspection,
(c) the relevant local housing authority has conducted an inspection of the dwelling-house or the common parts but has not decided whether to serve a relevant notice, or
(d) the relevant local housing authority has decided to serve a relevant notice in relation to the dwelling-house but the relevant notice has not been served.
(5) Subsection (1) does not apply where—
(a) the relevant notice has been wholly revoked under section 16 of the Housing Act 2004 (revocation and variation of improvement notices) as a result of the notice having been served in error,
(b) the relevant notice has been quashed under paragraph 15 of Schedule 1 to that Act (procedure and appeals relating to improvement notices),
(c) a decision of the relevant local housing authority to refuse to revoke the relevant notice has been reversed under paragraph 18 of Schedule 1 to that Act,
(d) a decision of the relevant local housing authority to take the action to which the relevant notice relates has been reversed under section 45 of that Act (appeals relating to emergency measures), or
(e) the relevant notice has been made subject to an order under section 29 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 (mandatory, prohibiting and quashing orders).
(6) References in this section and section 21B to a relevant notice served, or relevant complaint made, in relation to a dwelling-house include a relevant notice served, or complaint made, in relation to any common parts of the building of which the dwelling-house forms a part.
(7) But subsection (6) applies only if—
(a) the landlord has an estate or interest in the common parts in question, and
(b) the condition of those common parts is such as to affect the tenant’s enjoyment of the dwelling-house or of any common parts which the tenant is entitled to use.
(8) In this section and section 21B, a reference to a complaint to a landlord includes a complaint made to a person acting on behalf of the landlord in relation to the tenancy.
(9) In this section and section 21B— “assured shorthold tenancy” means a tenancy within section
19A or 20 of this Act; “common parts”, in relation to a building, includes—
(a) the structure and exterior of the building, and
(b) common facilities provided (whether or not in the building) for persons who include one or more of the occupiers of the building; “dwelling-house” has the meaning given by section 45 of this Act; “relevant complaint”, in relation to a dwelling-house, means a complaint made—
(a) to a landlord in writing, or
(b) to a relevant local housing authority, regarding the condition of the dwelling-house at the time of the complaint; “relevant local housing authority”, in relation to a dwelling-house, means the local housing authority as defined in section 261(2) and (3) of the Housing Act 2004 within whose area the dwelling-house is located; “relevant notice” means—
(a) a notice served under section 11 of the Housing Act 2004 (improvement notices relating to category 1 hazards),
(b) a notice served under section 12 of that Act (improvement notices relating to category 2 hazards),
(c) a notice served under section 28 of that Act (hazard awareness notices relating to category 1 hazards),
(d) a notice served under section 29 of that Act (hazard awareness notices relating to category 2 hazards), or
(e) a notice served under section 40(7) of that Act (emergency remedial action).
21B Further exemptions to section 21A
(1) Subsections (1) to (3) of section 21A do not apply where the condition of the dwelling-house or common parts that gave rise to the service of the relevant notice, or consideration of whether to serve a relevant notice, is due to a breach by the tenant of—
(a) the duty to use the dwelling-house in a tenant-like manner,
or
(b) an express term of the tenancy to the same effect.
(2) Subsection (3) of section 21A does not apply if the court considers that the relevant complaint is totally without merit.
(3) Subsections (1) to (3) of section 21A do not apply where the dwelling-house is genuinely on the market for sale.
(4) For the purposes of subsection (3), a dwelling-house is not genuinely on the market for sale if, in particular, the landlord intends to sell the landlord’s interest in the dwelling-house to—
(a) a person associated with the landlord,
(b) a business partner of the landlord,
(c) a person associated with a business partner of the landlord,
or
(d) a business partner of a person associated with the landlord.
(5) For the purposes of subsection (4), references to a person who is associated with another person are to be read in accordance with section 178 of the Housing Act 1996 (meaning of associated person).
(6) For the purposes of subsection (4), a business partner of a landlord includes a person who is—
(a) a director, secretary or other officer of a company of which the landlord is also a director, secretary or other officer, or
(b) a partner of a partnership of which the landlord is also a partner.
(7) Subsections (1) to (3) of section 21A do not apply where the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing.
(8) Subsections (1) to (3) of section 21A do not apply where—
(a) the dwelling-house is subject to a mortgage granted before the beginning of the tenancy,
(b) the mortgagee is entitled to exercise a power of sale conferred on the mortgagee or by section 101 of the Law of Property Act 1925 (powers incident to estate or interest of mortgage), and
(c) the mortgagee requires possession of the dwelling-house for the purpose of disposing of it with vacant possession in exercise of that power.
(9) In subsection (8)—
(a) “mortgage” includes a charge, and
(b) “mortgagee” includes a receiver appointed by the mortgagee under the terms of the mortgage or in accordance with the Law of Property Act 1925.

RLA Retaliatory (Revenge) Evictions Campaign page here

Bill documents — Deregulation Bill 2013-14 to 2014-15

Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

1 COMMENT

  1. I can see why RLA called to as lawyer\’s charter. I have had problems with tenants and had to go to court. under the rules tenants can run rings round landlords and it cost me a fotune if tenants are given these powers i can see some will use it agaist landlords. When about if they damage my properties and make complaints because they can\’t pay the rent. Do i then have to go to court again to prove they did damage before i can evict them. What if the court case takes 11 months as it did last time, i had pay for expert reports. I get no rent for a year and a big legal bill. If this comes in it will be a disaster.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here