The Homes Act, which comes into force tomorow, won't stop revenge evictions
A new law allowing tenants to sue landlords will not be effective unless tenants are protected from revenge evictions, campaigners said.
The Homes Act comes into force tommmorow and allows tenants to directly take their negligent landlords to court, rather than having to rely on their council to do so.
However, Generation Rent said that, while this Act gives tenants an alternative route to force landlords to fix problems, they are still at risk of revenge evictions.
Under Section 21 of the Conservative’s 1988 Housing Act, landlords can end tenancies outside of fixed terms without needing a reason.
A 2018 survey by Citizens Advice found that private renters in England who formally complain about poor conditions have a 46% chance of being issued an eviction notice within 6 months.
The exception to Section 21 is when the local council has issued an ‘improvement notice’. Then tenants are the protected from eviction for six months.
However, figures compiled by Generation Rent through freedom of information requests show that the number of complaints most councils receive is far higher than the number of improvement notices they issue.
This leaves many tenants who complain at risk of revenge evictions, the group said.
Labour councillor Louise Mitchell is the Cabinet Member for Housing at Waltham Forest Council in London. She said:
“Many tenants don’t report disrepair because they fear a retaliatory eviction, so the cases we deal with are only the tip of the iceberg.
“Although tenants are protected if the council serves the landlord with an improvement notice, this is too blunt a tool to rely on.”
“In many cases an informal response is enough to encourage the landlord to take action, even though tenants could still face the threat of eviction. “
It would be easier to give tenants protection by abolishing Section 21, so that landlords who wanted tenants to move out would need a valid reason.”
Scotland scrapped evictions without grounds in 2017, increasing the pressure on the UK government to follow suit.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government consulted in summer 2018 on proposals to introduce 3-year tenancies, within which tenants cannot be evicted under Section 21, to replace 1-year tenancies. It has yet to publish its final proposals.
Joe Lo is a freelance journalist and a reporter for Left Foot Forward
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