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.
- 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.
- 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.
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…