The law on revenge evictions has changed. It’s an important step towards strengthening renters’ rights – and it’s been quite a journey. Put it this way, there’s now 11 million of you out there, and there were only 9 million when we started.
The law is designed to protect private renters from being evicted for making a complaint about poor conditions – and it’s a great start – but it won’t protect everyone. If you are one of England’s 11 million private renters and think you might be affected by the law get expert legal advice to find out exactly how the law applies to you.
The law is being introduced in two stages: from the 1st October onwards, the law will apply to renters starting or renewing assured shorthold tenancies. It will protect all renters on assured shorthold tenancies from the 1st October 2018 – including those who signed their tenancies years before.
If you’re trying to tackle the conditions issue with your landlord on your own, then you’re probably not protected because both a tenant and their local council have to take action.
A landlord will not be able to serve a valid section 21 eviction notice when a council has served an improvement notice on the landlord. To get to this point, a renter must have made a written complaint to their landlord, failed to get an adequate response from their landlord and then complained to the council. Provision has been made in the law to account for circumstances where a renter doesn’t have an address for their landlord and can’t get one.
In addition, where a local authority has served an Improvement Notice or carried out emergency remedial action a landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice for six months from the date of the Notice. This is great news for those battling away with their local authority behind them, but if you’re challenging your landlord on your own you might not be protected.
The Deregulation Act has also made the eviction process clearer, which should help tenants and landlords understand their rights and responsibilities : again these changes will only apply to renters who start or renew assured shorthold tenancies on or after the 1st October 2015.
We’d noticed that some landlords had been serving eviction notices to their tenants on day one of their tenancy, leaving tenants uncertain about whether their landlord would soon want them out or not. A new law means landlords cannot hand out a section 21 notice in the first four months of an initial tenancy, although once a tenancy has been renewed the notice can be served immediately.
Landlords will also have to use a standard form when serving a section 21 notice. The form should help to make the eviction process clearer for tenants and landlords alike – for example, it contains useful information for tenants about where they can get further advice. If a landlord doesn’t use the right form the Notice won’t be valid.
A landlord also won’t be able to serve a valid section 21 eviction notice until they have given their tenant certain information: namely a copy of the gas safety certificate, energy performance certificate and a copy of the government’s how to rent guide. There’s lots of new information here, which is why we’re on hand to help renters, landlords and local authorities understand the law. We’ll also continue to tell government that local authorities need to be properly resourced if renters are going to be protected by this law.
We couldn’t have changed the law without renters telling us that revenge evictions were a problem, without housing and legal experts helping us find a solution and without our supporters keeping the pressure up on government for well over a year, to actually change the law! So thank you – but don’t go anywhere. We’re a long way off from England’s 11 million private renters living in a decent and secure home. But we’re getting there. Join our campaign to fix private renting here.
For advice on this law visit our advice pages here.