Bill would ban ‘revenge’ evictions

Published: Friday 28th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Revenge evictions where landlords force out tenants for complaining about the poor condition of their home should be banned in the interests of fairness and decency, a former coalition minister has said.

Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather said retaliatory evictions after tenants legitimately demand repairs are becoming “depressingly familiar” to organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and housing charity Shelter.

Introducing new laws to ban revenge evictions which have Government and cross-party backing, Ms Teather said they would simply help tenants uphold existing rules.

Ms Teather gave an example from her Brent Central constituency where a tenant was evicted for continuing to complain about a collapsed ceiling which wasn’t fixed.

Research from the charity Shelter shows that over 60,000 families were threatened with eviction for complaining about the conditions of their homes in the last year.

Opening debate on her Tenancies (Reform) Bill at second reading, Ms Teather said: “They are victims of a small minority of landlords who would rather get rid of tenants than bring their properties up to scratch.

“It is because of stories like these that I am bringing the Tenancies (Reform) Bill to the House today and for which I ask for the House’s support.

“No-one should be evicted for asking their landlord to do basic repairs. No-one should be frightened to tell their landlord about a problem for fear of losing their home. No-one should be forced to put up with poor conditions because landlords might retaliate if they make a fuss.

“This is just about fairness and decency. It’s about doing the right thing.

“It’s about upholding the existing law and it should benefit everybody – tenants, landlords and indeed also local authorities.”

Ms Teather assured MPs that the Bill was not designed to skew the rules in favour of tenants and actually contained some measures to make it simpler for a landlord to evict someone who is breaking the law.

She said: “The Bill has been very carefully drafted actually to make sure that spurious complaints for example can’t be a reason to frustrate the eviction process.

“In addition to the clauses relating to retaliatory eviction there also also other clauses in the Bill that are about simplifying the process for applying for a Section 21 notice to make it easier for landlords who are operating entirely legitimately to make sure that they comply with the law.

“There are often situations at the moment where a landlord may serve a Section 21 notice and find they have fallen foul of a technicality when they were operating perfectly legitimately.

“The Bill is not all about skewing everything in favour of the tenant – this contains some simplifying elements in the Bill as well.”

Ms Teather’s proposals are brought forward in a Private Member’s Bill, which rarely become law.

However, with Government and cross-party backing it is likely to progress at second reading and potentially beyond.

Ms Teather said the Bill is also supported by charity Shelter, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Association of Tenancy Relation Officers, the Electrical Safety Council, the Chartered Institute of Housing, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and leading mortgage provider Nationwide.

Published: Friday 28th November 2014 by The News Editor

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