Over the last few years there have been studies which have claimed that some landlords are evicting their tenants if they request improvements to the property. This is called ‘retaliatory’ or ‘revenge’ evictions.
To try to change the law to protect tenants from the unscrupulous landlords that evict tenants to avoid improving their property, Sarah Teather a Liberal Democrat MP, introduced a Private Members’ Bill: the ‘Tenancies (Reform) Bill’.
The Bill wasn’t initially passed, but was reintroduced this month through the House of Lords using another Bill: the Deregulation Bill. Although this bill was actually aimed at reducing the burden of legislation on businesses, organisations and individuals, in this case it was used to incorporate changes which would make it more difficult to evict a tenant via retaliatory eviction.
This Bill has now been passed by the Lords and they are currently urging the Government to pass the Bill too, which is due for its forth reading in March 2015. The Bill needs to be passed by the House of Commons and then has to receive ‘Royal Assent’ before it becomes law.
How will the changes affect landlords?
Currently there are two ways of securing possession of your property. The method which is affected by this Bill is the issuing of a ‘Section 21’ notice. Landlords can serve a Section 21, requesting the tenant leaves without giving any reason. For example it might be your original home and you want to move back in or you want to sell the property. A Section 21 can only be enacted at the end of the tenancy contract period, for example after a fixed tenancy agreement of six months. You will need to abide by the period of notice (normally two months) within the contract.
The changes will protect the tenant from eviction if they have already complained about the property’s condition and, as the landlord, you haven’t provided a response within 14 days or the response you did provide was inadequate and/or the tenant has already lodged a formal complaint about its condition with the LA. As long as the complaint is valid, landlords will be prevented from serving a ‘Section 21’ eviction notice for six months after the Local Authority has sent a letter requesting the improvements.
What can Reeds Rains do to help you?
From our perspective, the idea of evicting a tenant because they have fairly requested repairs or legally required improvements is unfair, so it is best to ensure the tenant has no reason to complain in the first place.
We will keep you up to speed on what’s happening with this legal change and let you know if it comes into force. If we fully manage your property, we would aim to make sure your property is let legally at the start of the tenancy and advise of any repairs are required if we re-let it for you. And, if we receive any complaints from the tenant, we will make sure we get back to them within the required number of days.
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