Will ‘revenge eviction’ law stop landlords being able to evict?

A proposed new law intended to end ‘revenge evictions’ would be a “charter for anti-social tenants.”

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This is according to the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which claims a new Bill being debated in Parliament would “undermine confidence in the private rented sector at the time when it is needed most.”

The Bill, introduced by Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather, aims to end so-called ‘revenge evictions’, a practice in which landlords evict tenants rather than carry out requested repairs or maintenance.

Writing in The Guardian, Ms Teather explained the impact of revenge evictions on her constituents. She wrote: “Last month, a constituent came to my office in Brent for help after his landlord served him with an eviction notice. His property suffered from severe cold and a cockroach infestation, and following an environmental health inspection the council served notice on the landlord to fix the property. The landlord decided to evict my constituent and re-let the flat instead.”

She continued: “The problem is worst where the housing crisis is most acute – 14 per cent of families renting in London have been hit with revenge evictions in the last year alone.”

But the RLA says the Bill would hit landlords’ ability to use section 21 notices to evict tenants – an option they claim constitutes “a flexibility widely credited with helping to revive the private rented sector.”

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.”

But Ms Teather maintains that her Bill will not prevent ‘legitimate’ evictions. In her article for the Guardian she wrote: “In taking action against rogue landlords, my Bill will not catch those who are meeting their legal responsibilities. Landlords will only be stopped from using their section 21 powers following intervention by the council. When a complaint is received, a local authority will contact the landlord to resolve the problem, only serving a statutory notice if the landlord is clearly at fault and there is a serious issue with the property. So if an environmental health officer finds that the tenant has caused the problem or not given the landlord access to the property, they will not be protected.”

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