Houses of parliament

MPs discuss bill to tackle revenge evictions

A bill to tackle so-called ‘revenge evictions’ is due to get its second reading in the House of Commons today.

The bill would require private landlords who give their tenants a section 21 notice requiring them to leave at the end of their tenancy, to wait for six months if a complaint about the property has been lodged.

It’s hoped that such measures would protect tenants who flag major safety or maintenance issues from being evicted rather than landlords fixing the problem.

Sarah Teather, a Liberal Democrat MP, introduced The Tenancies (Reform) Bill as a private member’s bill. The government announced its support in principle, providing the bill could not be.

Teather said: “Good landlords want to know about these problems, so tackling retaliatory eviction will help them too.”

“My bill will only affect the minority of rogue landlords who are not meeting their legal duties. The onus will be on tenants to prove they complained about the problem before the eviction notice was issued.”

The proposed change would not affect landlords evicting tenants who are in arrears on their rent, who can be evicted under section 8 of the act.

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer of the National Landlords Association expressed concern that the bill could be misused.

“Whilst no responsible landlord would defend the tiny number of incidences of retaliatory eviction, we are concerned that, far from protecting vulnerable tenants from abuse, the measures proposed by this bill may become a tool for misuse in the hands of those intent on gaining the system.”

Lambert also suggested that “there is no hard evidence that retaliatory or revenge eviction is common practice.”

Housing charity Shelter says that about 213,000 people were subjected to ‘revenge evictions’ in 2013, which is around 2% of renters.

All parties are anxious to appeal to the ever growing number of private renters in the build up to the general election in May 2015.

A Labour amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill to stop letting agents charging fees from both the landlord and the tenant, was blocked in the House of Lords this week.

Houses of Parliament by Davide Simonetti, licensed under creative commons.

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