Landlords would be prevented from evicting tenants who have made a complaint.
Regulation to protect tenants from ‘retaliatory evictions’ has passed through parliament as part of the Deregulation Bill. The law is expected to come into effect in October 2015.
Spearheaded by housing charity Shelter, the legislation means that landlords would be prevented from serving a Section 21 notice to end a tenancy if the tenant has made a valid complaint about the condition of the property.
The landlord will also have to show that the property is covered by a valid Gas Safety and Energy Performance Certificate.
Shelter research estimates that over 200,000 renters per year are kicked out of their properties because they’ve made complaints, although this figure has been questioned by landlord groups.
Welcoming the new bill, Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Campbell Robb said: “Hundreds of thousands of people will no longer face the appalling choice between living in a home that puts them or their family in danger, or risking eviction if they complain.”
But rental industry insiders have warned that the new legislation could be fraught with issues, and could provide a way for tenants to delay eviction by submitting complaints.
There’s also concern that rental decisions will be taken out of the hands of the landlord, because the local authority will be able prevent landlords serving Section 21 notices following a complaint about the condition of the property.
Chris Norris, Head of Policy at the National Landlords Association (NLA), warned that the new regulation could be disastrous for landlords:
“The Government says that the majority of good landlords will have nothing to fear but the truth is it will give unscrupulous tenants and ambulance-chasing legal firms more power to resist genuine and necessary attempts on behalf of landlords to regain lawful possession on a property”.
The Deregulation Bill also contains an amendment relating to Tenancy Deposit Protection (TDP) that is seen as contrastingly pro-landlord. It corrects issues that have been created by legal decisions that seemed to impose unreasonable duties on landlords that have tenancies pre-dating TDP legislation.
This follows a judgement earlier this year that stated that a landlord’s Section 21 notice was invalid because the deposit was unprotected, despite the fact that the deposit was taken before TDP legislation came into force.