Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

With all the talk of “revenge evictions” in the media, is this attention leading to a new type of tenant – Eviction Blockers?

These are “legal savvy” tenants using eviction blocking tactics as a smokescreen for other issues when wanting to remain in a rental property, often rent free?

Vexatious claims about property defects, when tenants are struggling to pay rent, is a reality for landlords right now. This could really snowball if the proposed legislation delaying the section 21 eviction process goes through, claim experienced landlords.

The proposed new legislation under Sarah Teather’s Private Member’s Bill is the Tenancies (Reform) Bill 2014-15. The Bill, which ran out of time in its second reading on the 28th of November, is due to be considered again on the 23rd of January 2015.

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This Bill, in its present form, proposes blocking the use of the section 21 no blame eviction process for any landlord who has received a repair complaint.

Under the Bill tenants will be able to successfully defend eviction proceedings when (1) The local authority has received a complaint but not yet decided to act, (2) has decided to inspect but has not yet carried it out, (3) has conducted an inspection but has not decided to serve an enforcement notice, and (4) has decided to serve a relevant enforcement notice.

In other words, the decision as to when an eviction can be started and successfully completed will be down entirely to the actions of the local authority, when a repair complaint has been made.

LandlordZONE® has reported receiving a spate of repair related enquiries from landlords since all the media attention started about revenge or retaliatory evictions.

Tom Entwistle a director of the company said:

“Since all this began we’ve had several landlords enquiring to us about how to deal with this problem. Typical is a landlord who contacted us because his long standing tenant had complained to the council 6 weeks ago that his boiler was not working.

“The landlord had instructed a plumber to go round right away, but 6 weeks later and after three visits by the plumber, he has still not got access to the property – the tenant just refuses entry.

“Both the landlord and the local authority are at a dead-end as to how to remedy this, and cannot believe that if the boiler really is defective, the tenant would do this. Landlords or their tradespeople cannot legally enter a rental property where the tenant refuses access.

“The plumber is refusing to make another visit without a call out fee, having already wasted several hours of his time.”

“This is just one example. We’ve got several more”, said Tom Entwistle.

He went on, “my concern is that if this legislation does eventually go through, and it is not “balanced” in the way that protects landlords as well as tenants, then this issue is going to be a growing problem for landlords – it could lead to tenants effectively blackmailing landlords.

“At the moment, my view is that this Bill is very badly drafted. As others have suggested, I would have thought that there are far more effective ways of dealing with these so called “revenge evictions” than with another set of complex legislation, which will inevitably lead to extensive case law.”

Please Note: This Article is 6 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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9 COMMENTS

  1. Sarah Teather is a stupid LibDem who will be voted out this coming General Election which will see the end of her stupid bill.
    It is already very hard work to evict a tenant.
    It can take 9 months or more.
    Her stupid bill could bankrupt LL and would see \’the boys\’ illegally evicting tenants.
    At least S 21 does give a LL the eventual recovery of his property without any reason to be given.

  2. The item seems to miss out the essential issue that merely because a tenant makes a complaint it does not mean that an EHO will issue some sort of notice in relation to it.
    In the circumstances described, if the landlord decides to end the tenancy, the propsals suggested by Sarah Teather would not prevent a possession order being granted on the basis of a Section 21 notice.
    The background notes show that the proposals could not have been used where a tenant makes a complaint and then obstructs an EHO or the landlord from responding.

    If an N5b claim is made for possession and is accurately submitted it should not take 9 months to process. The Court can only delay for up to 6 weeks.

    I understand that Sarah Teather is popular in her constituency, however several months ago she announced that she was not intending to stand again having served for 10 years

  3. I think the operative word in Colin Lunts post is \”should\” – s21 should not take 9 months to process.

    Have you ever tried it in practice? There\’s a two months notice, another wait for the court processes to be carried out (6 weeks to 3 months depending on how busy the court is) and another one for the court bailiffs to act. In some locations bailiffs can take weeks or even months when they are busy.

    The whole process can easily take 6 to 9 months and then the above new laws would add another 6 months wait to that and any extra caused by delays by EHOs workloads.

    I read a story today that evictions are increasing because of welfare cuts. Thats the main reason I think evictions are going up, repair issues are a ruse for tenants who can no longer afford the rents where they are living.

    Well the Government are cutting the payments and then they respond by penalising landlords.

    • Most possession applications I have been involved in have been less than 6 months. I do not include the length of notice as the tenant would ordinarily be there in any circumstances as long as it was issued at least 2 months before the end of a fixed term.

      You make the comment that the proposed but failed minor change put forward by Teather would add\”another 6 months wait\”. That would only be the case if it was not a retaliatory eviction because nothing in the Bill would have prevented a landlord commencing a section 8 claim and at the same time providing evidence to the Local Authority that the allegation of disrepair, in respect of a landlord\’s duties was without foundation. That could be done with the landlord\’s property log. The basis of that is actually outlined in the piece above.

      The landlord in those circumstances would be able to establish that they had attempted to inspect/repair and indeed that the EHO was unable to inspect or mediate access for repair. A tenant would not therefore have any documentary evidence for the court to base a delay of the grant of the possession order.

      Of course some courts and councils do have difficulties in coping with workloads but the ball is also in a landlords court to pre-empt that delay by counter evidence.being available. A sensible EHO does not want a complaint in the in-tray that does not need to be there.

      In the Oxford and Hull Universities Report on Possession cases April 2014, the judges commented that private sector claims usually take double the time to process than public sector or mortgage cases. The errors in completion of forms or what evidence is needed causes problems for judges in an oral hearing as they have to attempt to assist a landlord whilst maintaining neutrality in the process.

      The court service is attempting to improve the process but it also needs the help of landlords themselves. No process will be perfect

      (Bright and Whitehouse Report -should be available to find on line. Chapter 6 deals with private landlord claims)

    • Second sentence para two should have said that a delay would only be added to, if it WAS a retaliatory eviction. Section 8 claims would not have been affected.

  4. Colin

    I take your points but reading the Bill and notes I can\’t understand how this work efficiently in practice it just seems a dog\’s breakfast.

    You say section 8. I found this that my experience of this is that judges allow tenants to produce last minute claims for repairs in court. They then adjourn the hearing for trail pending expert reports and that can take be six months away. If you have a tenant who has wrecked your property, not paying rent and you have a mortgage to pay, it can put you under mass pressure. If the landlord fails he pays all costs.

  5. The key with all court proceedings is planning of a case and pre-empting the argument of the other side, if at all possible. This can be problematic for Litigants in Person (LIPs) and even as the Bright Waterhouse study found, even with some solicitors.
    Judges want cases to progress as efficiently s possible but if a late application is made, particularly from an LIP they have to decide whether to grant it or risk an appeal.
    If a landlord wishes to avoid adjournments and has a full property file with them at each hearing they may be able to respond immediately to an unfounded claim and therefore ensure that a DJ does not allow it.

  6. I had a tenant say his mum had died the day before court day.

    He got another 6 weeks free as he was not paying rent – he was on welfare.

    He said his mum had not died the day before. Next, court was not interest – just lost £7000 pounds and I had a solicitor to pay as well – how could he respond to this.

    TENANTS WHO DON\’T PAY RENT WILL BE LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK

    I had section 8 and 21 but just took to long. There should be fast track for tenants who do not pay rent like 6 to 8 weeks into tenant, and if the tenants owe 5 weeks they can be in court not 8 weeks IT TOOK OVER 6 MONTHS to get a possession order.

  7. Invaluable blog post . I am thankful for the info . Does someone know where my business might access a blank a form document to fill in ?

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