MP Sarah Teather’s private member’s bill to stop revenge evictions was not passed, but similar clauses have now been added to the Deregulation Bill.
The bill is currently at the report stage in the House of Lords and these clauses were added to the bill on 11th February 2015.
These clauses are not that dissimilar to the original private member’s bill and the aim is to “protect tenants against the practice of retaliatory eviction”.
The new clauses
You can read the detailed report by downloading the PDF from our useful links page. The key points are:
•Landlords will not be able to serve a section 21 notice in England within six months of the service of a ‘relevant notice’ or , where the operation of the ‘relevant notice’ has been suspended, within six months of the end of a suspension of the relevant notice
•A relevant notice is defined as: an improvement notice relating to a category 1 hazard; an improvement notice relating to a category 2 hazard; or an emergency remedial action notice
•Section 21 notices will be invalid if, before the S21 is issued, the tenant complains in writing to the landlord regarding the condition of the property and the landlord does not respond within 14 days, or does not provide an adequate response, or issues a section 21 notice in response to the complaint, and the tenant then complains (on the same basis) to the local authority resulting in the authority issuing a ‘relevant notice’
•The protection from eviction will only apply if the authority has confirmed that there is a potential health and safety risk and where the tenant requested a repair before the section 21 notice was served
•It will not apply if the repair is required as a result of the tenant’s actions or the property is genuinely for sale
•The Secretary of State will have the power to make regulations to set a prescribed form of section 21 notices
•If the tenancy ends early and the tenant has paid rent in advance, a proportion of the rent will be paid back to the tenant by the landlord (there will be a formula to calculate this). This will only apply to assured shorthold tenancies that start on or after the date the bill comes into force
A new clause that was not included in Sarah Teather’s bill will allow the Secretary of State to make regulations to specify information that a landlord will be required to provide to an assured shorthold tenant about their respective rights and responsibilities.
If this information is not provided the landlord will be prevented from serving a section 21 notice.
As with the original bill, there is always the danger that some tenants might abuse the system to prevent eviction.
The need to respond to a written complaint within 14 days could put a fair amount of pressure on landlords managing their properties themselves – best not to tell tenants when they are going on holiday!
Whilst tenants should not be threatened by their landlord, the MoJ statistics do suggest that this problem is smaller than is being made out, and that this new legislation could detract property owners from entering the private rental sector, further exacerbating the current housing crisis.
By David Carter for The Sheriffs Office