The Liberal Democrat MP, Sarah Teather, is introducing The Tenancies (Reform) Bill which is intended to target “retaliatory evictions”. For the uninitiated, this is where a landlord evicts their tenants when they complain about the condition of their homes to avoid carrying out necessary repairs. The Bill will propose that the landlord will not be able to use a Section 21 Notice for six months if tenants have made a complaint about their property which has been accepted by the Local Authority.
One (of many) concerns voiced by the RLA is that tenants could play the system. If being faced with eviction for reasons such as non payment of rent or anti social behavior, they could simply put in a repair complaint to delay proceedings, and sit tight.
Shelter (who have encouraged Sarah Teather) claim that retaliatory evictions are a big issue with 200,000 tenants being evicted after asking for repairs. It also claims many tenants are too scared of being evicted to report a problem.
However, the statistics do not support Shelter’s claims. Just 7% of tenancies are ended by landlords. Of those, 90% are for rent arrears. Other factors cited by landlords were anti-social behavior of tenants (43%), damage caused by tenants (40%) and drug related problems (20%). Just under 30% wanted possession because they needed to sell for personal reasons.
RLA Chairman, Alan Ward, says “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.”
He adds “Retaliatory evictions are wrong and there are already regulations in place to deal with any such abuse by a tiny minority. But there is 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 this country desperately needs.”
Since writing the above, Sarah Teather’s Private Members Bill has failed to win enough support in the House of Commons.