New legislation to restrict so-called “revenge evictions” would be a charter for anti-social tenants.
That’s the warning from the Residential Landlords’ Association, as MPs discuss measures which could make it much more difficult for landlords to deal with nuisance tenants and those who don’t pay their rent.
The Tenancies (Reform) Bill introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather claims to target retaliatory evictions, where landlords evict their tenants when they complain about the condition of their homes.
But the RLA, which represents private landlords, says not only is there no evidence that the vast majority of landlords would ever evict their tenants without good reason, but that the legislation would actually undermine confidence in the private rented sector at the time when it is needed most.
RLA chairman Alan Ward said:
“This proposal would cause serious damage to a flourishing sector which is providing much-needed homes for rent. The overwhelming majority of landlords do not and will not evict tenants for no reason. But landlords need to be able to deal with nightmare tenants who cause misery in their communities and those who just won’t pay their rent. Removing their freedom to do so would be a charter for anti-social tenants.”
The private member’s bill, due to be debated on 28th November, would hit landlords’ ability to use ‘section 21’ notices in the eviction process – a flexibility widely credited with helping to revive the private rented sector.
The RLA’s survey of more than 1,760 landlords this summer demonstrated that landlords only seek to evict when they really need to.
Of those who have regained possession of their properties, almost 90% reported that they had done so because of tenant rent arrears, with another 43% because of tenant anti-social behaviour, nearly 40% because tenants caused damage to the property and 20% for tenant drug-related activity. Just under 30% wanted to regain possession of the property, for example because they needed to sell it for personal reasons.
Mr Ward added:
“Retaliatory evictions are wrong and there are already regulations in place to deal with any such abuse by a tiny minority. But there’s no evidence to suggest such drastic action as proposed in this bill is necessary. Instead of helping tenants, it risks discouraging landlords from providing the homes the country desperately needs.”
The RLA believes that rather than introducing unnecessary changes, the bill should be targeted at extending consumer rights regulations and improving the information given to tenants when they sign up for a home about their existing rights.
The RLA represents almost 20,000 private sector residential landlords in England and Wales.
Details of the RLA’s survey of its members can be found at here
In June, the Competition and Markets Authority 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 is available here
The English Housing Survey for 2012-13 notes on page 85, that just 7% of tenancies are ended by a landlord. The survey is available here
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