An amendment to the Deregulation Bill on retaliatory eviction would put an impossible burden on councils and be ineffective in practice, claims the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).
Existing regulations can be used to protect tenants, the RLA adds.
Landlords are criticising the amendment, which follows the content of Sarah Teather MP’s Bill, defeated last Friday (28th November).
The amendment is scheduled to be debated in January.
The RLA believes that the amendment is the wrong response to retaliatory evictions because:
Consumer Rights regulations already make retaliatory evictions illegal and guidance by the Competition and Markets Authority has already been issued, making this amendment unnecessary.
The amendment would prevent landlords from regaining possession of their property when tenants don’t pay their rent or commit anti-social behaviour and claim for spurious repairs.
Last year, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee warned against such legislation as it would “stunt the market”. The Government agreed with this assessment.
There is no reliable information on the scale of the problem this seeks to address – the Government doesn’t collect the data.
Commenting on the amendment, Alan Ward, chairman of the RLA said:
“The RLA shares concerns about the need to tackle retaliatory evictions and condemns any landlord who engages in such practices.
“Rather than pile yet more regulations on the sector, what is needed is better enforcement of existing powers which hard pressed councils already find difficult to enforce.
“Tenants need better information about their rights and responsibilities. That would give many the confidence to complain about a minority of landlords who have no place in private rented sector.”
The RLA represents almost 20,000 private sector residential landlords in England and Wales.
On 11 th November, the Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP confirmed that the Government does not collect data on retaliatory evictions. He was responding to a written question from Oliver Colvile MP who’s question, together with the Minister’s response can be found at here
In July 2013 the Communities and Local Government Select Committee published its report on the private rented sector which can be found here On page 42, commenting on the prospect of legislation to address the problem of retaliatory evictions the committee concluded:
“We are not convinced, however, that a legislative approach is the best or even an effective solution. Changing the law to limit the issuing of section 21 notices might be counter-productive and stunt the market.”
In its response to the Select Committee report published in October 2013 here, the Government agreed stating:
“The Government accepts the Committee’s recommendation about retaliatory eviction, and agrees that legislation is not the preferred approach.”
In June, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued guidance on the relationship between landlords and tenants. This guidance makes clear that under the terms of the 2008 Unfair Trading Regulations, coming from the Consumer Protection Act, it is a breach of these where “any commercial practice that, in the context of the particular circumstances, intimidates or exploits consumers such as to restrict (or be likely to restrict) their ability to make free or informed choices in relation to a product, and which cause or are likely to cause the average consumer to take a different transactional decision. These are known as aggressive practices.”
In the examples of what could constitute aggressive practices, it includes, “Threatening the tenant with eviction to dissuade them from exercising rights they have under the tenancy agreement or in law, for example where they wish to make a complaint to a local authority about the condition of the property, or seek damages for disrepair.”
This guidance can be found here