We’ve talked about revenge evictions before and we will continue to do so, until there is none of them left happening anymore. As of 2015, there is a way of fighting this practice, but it’s complicated and tenants not often know how to use it properly.
This blog post will explain in detail how revenge eviction takes place, how the laws work to protect tenants and what tenants must remember to do in order to prevent this.
What is a “revenge eviction” ?
A revenge eviction happens when a landlord no longer wishes to repair and maintain the property they rent out (and receive profit from). When a tenant reports a repair issue or requests maintenance, some landlords figure it’s cheaper to get a new tenant than to fix the problems within the property.
This is obviously wrong by any standard, however, until October the 1st, 2015, it was NOT illegal.
Typically, landlords can serve you with a Section 21 notice and give you two months to move out. This notice can be served IF:
- you’re on a periodic tenancy
- there are two months left until your fixed term tenancy expires
The notice itself doesn’t force you to move out – it only expresses the landlord’s will to resolve the matter (you moving out) without using court action. The actual eviction happens in the court, after Section 21 notice has expired.
How does the government battle revenge evictions
When the Deregulation Act 2015, came out, it brought a lot of changes about how and when a landlord can evict you.
Under the new regulation, Section 21 cannot be used for six months after the local council has served the landlord with an “improvement notice” (relating to either category 1 or category 2 health hazards) OR if the council has done “emergency remedial action” in the property.
To explain how this works we need to remind you again how the procedure for contacting the environmental health department at your local council works:
Step 1: The tenant writes a letter requesting repairs from the landlord.
–Revenge eviction can happen here–
Step 2: The landlord has 14 days to answer and acknowledge the problem and begin work to resolve it.
Step 3: The tenant sends a second letter asking for repairs.
–Revenge eviction can happen here–
Step 4: Shortly after letter number 2, the tenant sends a third and final letter requesting repairs and warning to contact the local council.
Step 5: The tenant contacts Environmental Health at their local council.
Step 6: An EHO comes and inspects the property to confirm the problem. Upon inspection the EHO serves the landlord with a “notice for improvement”, requiring them to improve the condition of the property within a set timeline, or suffer a heavy fine.
Step 7: Assuming the landlord has not obliged, environmental health can either do “emergency remedial action” and directly repair the property OR they can prosecute the landlord, which includes repairing the property to allow normal living conditions.
With the above timeline, it’s easy to see when landlords usually choose to evict their tenants.
What the Deregulation act does is, it allows local councils to block any Section 21 notice issue AFTER the tenant has sent their first letter asking for repairs, and make any new S21 notice invalid for six months.
Where are the pain points with this regulation:
- The local council is usually unaware of revenge eviction, unless the tenant comes and files a complaint.
- The courts are also often not aware that revenge evictions are happening and may grant a possession order, even though the landlord has not right to obtain one in the first place.
- The resolution of this problem is time sensitive – if the court grants the landlord a possession order, the local council can’t retroactively enforce the regulation.
- Tenants are usually not informed about this regulation and don’t know how to use it.
- It’s rather complicated for a tenant to use this law, as it has a prerequisite – to write a letter for repairs first and to have it available as proof when you need it.
- Tenants often are submissive due to fear of losing their home.
- The regulation only affects tenancies that have started after October 1st, 2015. It will be available for all tenancies after 2018.
What tenants must do to protect themselves
Luckily, informed tenants can prepare well and use this law to protect themselves fully. If you follow the steps below, you will successfully block your landlord’s attempt to evict you for requesting repairs.
Step 1: Use only written form of communication – emails and / or SMS and / or written letters.
Step 2: When requesting repairs, always issue a physical, written letter, delivered to your landlord’s address, as well as the normal means of communication you use. The courts nowadays accept many forms of evidence, but a written letter is still the standard for an official document and having issued one will cement your proof.
Step 3: If the landlord issues a Section 21 notice to quit AFTER you’ve requested repairs, contact the local council immediately. Explain to the council that you are a victim of revenge eviction following a legitimate request for repairs. Demand for their assistance and to have an EHO inspect your property ASAP to confirm your claim and serve “improvement notice”.
Step 4: Following the improvement notice, your landlord’s Section 21 notice is rendered invalid. However, if the landlord still proceeds to court, you must properly explain to the judge the steps above, so that they may acknowledge that the Section 21 the landlord has used as pretence to appear in court is invalid and they have no right to use the eviction procedure or to obtain a possession order.
For boiler (heating and hot water) repairs, please download our dedicated guide, where you will find template letters which you can fill in and send directly to your landlord. Use them to officially request repairs and produce evidence which you can use in the worst case scenario.
Download your free guide – Problems with the heating and hot water? Spring your landlord into action with 4 steps !