Martha Mackenzie
 
I’m a Public Affairs Officer at Shelter, I joined the Public Affairs team in July 2012. I have been working on a wide range of projects, most notably engaging with local authorities through our rogue landlords campaign and leading our work to end revenge eviction. In my spare time I mentor for the Prince's Trust. When not chained to a desk I can usually be found running or cycling around London.

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By Martha Mackenzie

Tenancies (Reform) Bill

Today, Department for Communities and Local Government Minister Stephen Williams announced that – in principle – the government will support Sarah Teather’s Tenancies (Reform) Bill. The Bill seeks to give renters security of tenure by ending retaliatory eviction. It also hopes to improve conditions in the private rented sector and make the eviction process better for renters, landlords and the courts.

Although the Bill is still being drafted, we thought this would be a good opportunity to outline what it is likely to say.

What will the Bill do?

We know that over 200,000 renters across England were evicted or served with an eviction notice in the last year because they complained about a problem in their home. And that 1 in 12 renters have avoided asking their landlord to repair a problem or improve conditions because they were scared of eviction.

Landlords have a legal responsibility to carry out certain repairs. The Tenancies (Reform) Bill will restrict the use of no-fault eviction notices when landlords are not meeting this responsibility.

Landlords who have not protected their tenants’ deposit or have not licensed their property when they are required to do so are already prevented from serving no fault eviction notices. This Bill is simply applying the same principle to poor conditions.

This will put a stop to retaliatory eviction. Landlords will no longer be able to evict renters in response to a legitimate complaint about poor conditions. It will also improve conditions. By giving renters the confidence to report problems, law-abiding landlords will be better able to maintain the standard of their tenant’s home.

What does this mean in practice?

Although the actual text of the Bill is still being drafted, we believe the following measures are likely to be included.

  1. Landlords will be prevented from evicting their tenant(s) in response to a local authority intervention about the condition of their property. They will be unable to serve a no-fault ‘Section 21’ eviction notice for 6 months following the issue of a local authority improvement or hazard awareness notice.
  2. Landlords will be prevented from evicting their tenant(s) in response to a legitimate, written complaint about the condition of the property. Local authorities will have to confirm that this complaint is legitimate.   

Crucially, this Bill will not allow tenants to use spurious or malicious complaints as a defence. It will place no additional burden on good, law-abiding landlords. And it will not add a discretionary element to Section 21 hearings.

What next?

Today’s announcement takes us one step closer to ending retaliatory eviction. However, we still have a long way to go. Over the next couple of months we’ll hopefully see a strong Bill published and the successful passage of this Bill during its second reading on 28th November. Watch this space…

  • Robert Jones

    But tenants will know that a landlord against whom they’ve complained will still be able to evict them when their Assured Shorthold comes to its end; not only be able to but, if they’ve made a complaint, will. It’s all very well talking about law-abiding landlords not incurring any extra expense, but a large number of landlords either are not law-abiding, or are wholly ignorant of the law. All this does, so far as I can see, is prevent immediate eviction – it does nothing to prevent a vindictive landlord from getting rid of you months later.

    • John Mark Dale

      You’re 100% right. Shelter are a waste of space. All they want to do is delay revenge evictions. Other than that Shelter want S21 to stay the same.

  • chris m

    I agree with Robert Jones – this won’t help much on its own. If, in addition, landlords had to pass an inspection whenever a new tenancy started they wouldn’t be so keen to kick out the current tenant.

  • You’re making it up

    “We know that over 200,000 renters across England were evicted or served with an eviction notice in the last year, simply because they complained about a problem in their home.”

    How can this be when there were less than 40,000 evictions last year from all private and social landlords combined?

    How many of them were up to date with the rent?

    No one should face eviction for complaining about bad conditions but figures like the above just don’t add up and do nothing for your credibility.

    • Jenny

      You’re making it up, I hope you are ignorant rather than a nasty little troll.

      The “less than 40,000 evictions last year” that you refer to is the number of homes forcibly repossessed by court bailiffs. (A large number and record high by the way!)

      The “over 200,000 renters across England (who) were evicted or served with an eviction notice in the last year” refers to the number of tenants who were affected by landlord posession orders, i.e. a section 21 notice which can be escalated to court action if you don’t leave.

      Like myself most private renters will leave, because why stick around to deal with the stress of court action, dealing with bailiffs & not being able to provide a reference that will be requested by the next private landlord/letting agent- only an eviction notice against your name. It’s 2 different routes to the same outcome- losing your home. Waiting for forcible eviction is only a good option if you are trying to get social housing.

      To reiterate, incase You’re making it up didn’t follow, the tenants who leave their homes as a result of a section 21 order being served make up the majority of ‘evictions’ despite not being included in the “less than 40,000” figure you quoted.

      • MdeB

        There is more than one route to an eviction notice.
        S21 is the “no fault” route that landlords use when they want THEIR property back.
        If a tenant leaves, then there is no eviction; and eviction occurs ONLY when it has gone to court AND a court order for posession has been granted AND the tenant still refuses to leave.

        I would like to know how “We know that over 200,000 renters across England were evicted or served with an eviction notice in the last year because they complained about a problem in their home”.
        Is it counting all S21 notices?
        Is it counting a family of 10 as one or 10?
        Is it counting only those where the baliffs turn up (that is the only legal eviction).
        It it counting all posession claims, including those where the tenant has failed to pay rent or has trashed the place?

        It is easy to write an emotive piece, but without the data to back it up it should not be trusted.

  • Coin Lunt

    It is unlikely at present that Parliament would change the rules on security of tenure that many people would like. The 6 month moratorium will allow time for the improvement notices to be enforced that will hopefully prevent the same situation facing a subsequent tenant so it will have the effect of securing an improvement in property stands.

  • You’re making it up

    Dream on Colin.
    Once the disrepair defence gets round, it will take years to sift through and enforce the genuine ones.
    Or has your LA got huge manpower reserves sat round ready to spring into action?

  • http://www.fastevictionservice.com/ paoul mcllium

    Laws are always changing regarding
    tenancy/landlord issues and security of tenure but it still seems to not have
    an impact on the landlords. Although security of tenure of tenants is assured
    but nevertheless is limited. If the landlord wants, he can always serve an
    eviction notice at the end of the tenure. And then, there are the law abiding
    landlords and the out of control ones. http://www.fastevictionservice.com/