Private tenants who are dissatisfied with the conditions of their private rented homes may lack protection from local government, it has been revealed in a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by campaign group Generation Rent. As a result, many could risk being evicted by landlords in what are called “revenge evictions”.

Under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, landlords were once fully entitled to evict tenants outside of fixed terms without reason. However, the Deregulation Act 2015 altered this somewhat, stating that, in the event that local councils had placed an improvement notice on a property, landlords were not entitled to evict tenants in such a manner for at least six months.

Despite recent changes to the law, local governments have not granted these improvement notices in a majority of cases where complaints have been made about the state of a property, according to evidence released by Generation Rent.

Alan Boswell – MPU

Lack of local council protection

Between 2017-18, as many as 67,026 complaints were received by local governments about the state of private rented property. However, only 3,043 improvement notices were issued for these properties. The remaining 64,000 cases or so were not deemed in need of improvement, according to the evidence released by Generation Rent.

This means as many as 95 per cent of tenants who complained about living with poor housing conditions, including mould or other severe hazards, may have been denied local government protection. In the worst cases, they may have even faced recriminations for complaining such as higher rent or sudden eviction without reason from their landlords, according to Generation Rent.

Recent changes to the law

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act recently came into force, affording private tenants the right to take landlords to court if they believe they are negligent in ensuring acceptable living conditions.

However, Generation Rent is concerned that the new act doesn’t change the fact that private tenants could still face revenge evictions and has therefore called for Section 21 to be scrapped.

Dan Wilson, director of Generation Rent, explained: “These figures demonstrate that, despite powers and protections, tenants living in squalid homes are being let down by their councils. If landlords are free to evict tenants who complain about disrepair, then we cannot expect the quality of private rented homes to improve.”

He concluded: “The new Homes Act gives tenants with an unreliable council an alternative route to force landlords to fix problems, but they are still at risk of eviction. Tenants have a right to a safe home, but can only exercise it if the government stops landlords from evicting without needing a reason.”

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Peter Adams
Peter reports for Property Notify about how political developments have a direct impact on the UK housing market. He does this, through his reporting on topics such as Brexit, government policy and the various political arguments that surround housing.

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  1. With the other changes coming into force on June 2019, whereby sliding rents are no longer valid, this reverts all ASTs to Assurred tenancies, which would mean a landlord (in many cases an old age pensioner trying to top up their pension and not ask for benefit hand outs) facing increased insurance costs, increased mortgage costs and (in many cases in my experience) tenants not treating the property with respect and with rising costs of food lighting and heating with rents remaining static for decades. So, I guess Government is trying to force pensioners into poverty and hardship to satisfy those PRS tenants who have not understood that the PRS is to serve people who (at that point in time – not forever) have not saved enough for a deposit, With 95% LTV mortgages most people can save sufficient to buy their own home. If tenants never dried loads of washing indoors, never let the garden become over grown, opened doors and windows to afford ventilation, cleaned thoroughly and never clumsily damaged radiator valves and door frames, I would love to keep such good tenants. I’m not sure Govt. has thought this through; the scrapping of S21 allongside freezing rents for decades is likely to cause more pensioners to claim benefits, when we are trying to reduce dependency on benefits, reduce the national debt and balance the books. Taxation would most likely increase, hitting both tenants and landlords. Landlords will exit the market so tax revenue into the treasury will decrease, thus hindering Govt ability to balance income and expenditure further.

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