25 April 2016

King West

Retaliatory Eviction Notices: The New Rules.


Tenant organisations have been debating retaliatory eviction for a significant amount of time – the practice carried out by some landlords of evicting their tenants when they ask for expensive (or potentially any) repair work to be undertaken.

In 2014, Sarah Teather MP backed a private members bill in the House of Commons to be passed. Although the main bill was somewhat thinned out in debate, the fundamental items were included in the government’s Section 33 of the Deregulation Act 2015.

The act states that if a tenant makes a legitimate complaint, a landlord must give an adequate response within 14 days.  An adequate response is where the landlord states what action will be taken to resolve the issue, also stating a timeline in which any repairs will be made.

If the tenant at that point refers the issue to their local authority as a complaint and the local authority serves a notice on the landlord demanding a solution for the tenant, the landlord cannot serve a section 21 notice for 6 months. A 'Section 21 Notice of Possession' operates under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, as the legal eviction notice template notice a landlord can give to a tenant to regain possession of a property at the end of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST).

If the local authority serves the notice anyway, no valid section 21 notice can then be served for 6 months.  If the section 21 notice was served before the complaints or before the local authority notice was served on the landlord, the section 21 can stand unchallenged.

The pertinent points of this change to law are;

  • Only the service of the local authority notice which triggers the 6-month prohibition for section 21 notices.
  • Unless the Court of Appeal is able to argue otherwise in due course, the mere fact of the landlord failing to give an ‘adequate response’ will not help the tenant. The landlord’s notice will still be valid.

The entire anti-retaliatory eviction structure thus depends upon the local authority notice.  This notice must be an improvement notice relating to category 1 hazards under section 11 of the Housing Act 2004, or an improvement notice relating to category 2 hazards served under section 12 of the same Act. The third option is a notice for emergency remedial action under section 40(7) of the Housing Act 2004.

The Act increases transparency for both sides. Local authorities and their environmental health officers are in significantly short supply and are therefore likely to view insincere complaints with little regard should less than ideal tenants be attempting underhand tactics when their landlords are desperate to remove them from their property. 

Should you require support with your let property portfolio, please contact the team at the King West Office on 01858 435970.

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