Tackling revenge eviction - a step closer

Guest blog by Sarah Teather MP 

I’m delighted to be working with Shelter and the Government to tackle revenge evictions.

In my 11 years as an MP, a number of victims of revenge eviction have come through the doors of my constituency office in Willesden Green needing my help. But there is little I or anyone else can do to stop landlords evicting tenants simply because they have reported dangerous or unsanitary conditions in their homes.

Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 gives landlords the power to evict renters without a reason. These powers are often used when a landlord wants to sell a property or move into it. But because Section 21 eviction notices can be issued without a reason, the system is open to abuse by rogue landlords.

This is bad for everyone: tenants, good landlords and local authorities.

It’s bad for tenants. If rogue landlords evict tenants and re-let properties instead of fixing problems, poor conditions prevail. The threat of eviction also means many stay silent – as many as 12% of all tenants have not reported a problem for this reason.

But it’s also bad for good landlords. With many tenants too scared to report problems, landlords will often only find out about problems when a tenancy ends. Most landlords want to know about poor conditions so they can do something about it.

Finally, it’s bad for local authorities. Currently, many councils are hesitant to serve a statutory notice on a landlord’s property because they fear the tenants will be evicted and will need re-housing. Removing the threat of retaliatory eviction means local authorities will feel more confident in tackling conditions in the private rented sector.

Some groups are more at risk: if you live in London, receive Housing Benefit or are from an ethnic minority, statistics show you are more likely to be a victim of revenge eviction.

This is brought into stark relief when you realise that 17% of BME renters in London have been victims in the last year, compared to the 2% figure for the UK as a whole.

That’s why I decided to use my Private Members’ Bill to stop retaliatory eviction. A small change in the law will make a big difference to England’s 9 million renters.

Shelter and housing professionals have been calling for this change for years. Their tireless work and the Government’s welcome support for my Bill means we now have a fantastic opportunity to end revenge eviction once and for all.

Take action today – email your MP and ask them to vote for the Tenancies (Reform) Bill on 28th November.