Revenge Evictions: Can My Landlord Evict Me If I Make A Complaint About The Condition Of My Property?
What is revenge eviction?
A revenge or retaliatory eviction is where a tenant makes a genuine and legitimate complaint to their landlord about their bad housing conditions and instead of carrying out the necessary repairs, the landlord takes steps to evict the tenant.
However you should not be afraid to report any repairs. Your landlord has a legal obligation to carry out certain repairs in your home and it is your right to hold them to this.
Am I at risk?
You may be at risk if you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.
There are two types of eviction notices that a landlord can serve to evict an Assured Shorthold tenant. These are:
- Section 21 notice – This is a no-fault eviction notice and means that the landlord does not need to give a reason for the eviction.
- Section 8 notice – This is usually not considered revenge eviction. It is served on an alleged fault of the tenant, for example if you are in rent arrears.
There are various requirements which the landlord must comply with to ensure that the notice is valid. You should seek legal advice to see whether you have a defence to a notice.
If you have a Regulated (Protected) tenancy or an Assured tenancy you are at a lower risk of being evicted out of revenge or retaliation. This is because with these types of tenancies, your landlord must provide the court with a legal reason to evict you.
Are there any laws to protect me?
The Deregulation Act was introduced in 2015 and has made it illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant out of revenge or retaliation. The Act applies to private tenancies let on or since October 2015.
Under this Act, if your landlord has served you with a Section 21 notice after you have made a disrepair complaint, the court may refuse to make a possession order against you where all of the following apply:
- You have reported the disrepair to your landlord in writing
- Your landlord has not responded to your complaint within 14 days
- You refer the matter to your local authority
- The local authority sends a Notice of Improvement or a Remedial Action Notice to your landlord
A Notice of Improvement or a Remedial Action Notice is a warning from the local authority’s Environmental Health department to the landlord to carry out repairs within a specified period of time.
If such notice is served, the landlord will not be allowed to issue a Section 21 notice for six months from the service of that notice. However, there can be situations where the landlord is able to serve a Section 21 notice even when a Notice of Improvement or a Remedial Action Notice has been served. Therefore, it is always best to seek legal advice.
How can I protect myself?
It is important to ensure that you have evidence of your complaint about repairs or conditions of the property in writing. This can be in the form of a letter, email or text message. Make sure that you have a copy of this in order to protect your position.
If your landlord does not respond within 14 days, you should send a copy of your complaint to your local authority and approach them to ask for assistance with asking your landlord to remedy the issue(s). You must report matters to the local authority as soon as possible. Local authorities can be very busy and difficult to get hold of, so if you do not hear back, you should keep chasing them regularly to remedy the issue(s).
This is important as the restriction on landlords using a s.21 notice only applies where a local authority has actually served a notice and not before.