With the phasing out of emergency measures in the rental market, are we likely to be seeing a return of revenge evictions? Dispute Resolution Paralegal, Amy Gibson, discusses the grounds for eviction and the current laws in place to prevent revenge evictions.

What is a revenge eviction?

A revenge eviction (also called a retaliatory eviction) is where a tenant makes a genuine and legitimate complaint to their landlord regarding the condition of their property and, instead of making the repair, their landlord responds by serving them with an eviction notice.

What are the current laws to prevent revenge evictions?

The framework for retaliatory evictions is within the Deregulation Act 2015 (“the Act”). The Act makes it clear that a tenant should not be deterred from making a complaint about the condition of a property for fear of being evicted.  The Act states that  section 21 notice served where all of the following apply will be invalid:-

  • The tenant has reported disrepair to the landlord in writing;
  • The landlord has not responded to that notice within 14 days;
  • The tenant then has referred the matter to environmental health;
  • The council then has served an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice.

Similarly, if an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice is served, the landlord is precluded from issuing a section 21 notice for six months from the service of that notice. There are situations where the landlord could issue a section 21 notice even when an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice has been served, though, so it is always best to get advice.

How can a tenant protect themselves from such an eviction?

A tenant should ensure that any complaint about repairs to the landlord in writing. The landlord will therefore have 14 days from the date of complaint to respond to the tenant or deal with the disrepair.  If a landlord does not respond after 14-days, the tenant can approach the Local Authority to ask that they assist with asking the landlord for the repairs.  The Local Authority may then write to the landlord with an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice requiring the landlord to deal with the repairs.

If the tenant believes that they are a victim to a retaliation eviction, they should seek legal advice and provide evidence of this.

How can a landlord protect themselves from problem tenants?

If the landlord receives a notice or information from the tenant regarding disrepair at the property, the landlord should deal with it as soon as practicably possible.  Any delay in dealing with this could ultimately detriment the landlord’s ability to serve a section 21 notice, and so timely responses to tenant requests is always advised.

What grounds are there for evictions?

There are currently two main grounds for evictions under the Housing Act 1988.  These are under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (“the 1988 Act”) and section 8 of the 1988 Act”.

A section 21 notice under the 1988 Act” is a non-fault eviction at the end of the fixed term of the tenancy agreement.  This is merely a notice asking the tenant to vacate the property at the end of the fixed term if the landlord does not intend to renew the tenancy.  At present, these are for a period of 4 months due to the Coronavirus Act 2020 increasing protection for tenants.  There are various requirements of the landlord which must be complied with prior to serving this notice and to ensure that the notice is valid. Landlords should seek advice when serving these notices to prevent a situation where a notice is served, the notice period passes, and they cannot issue proceedings if the tenant does not leave as the notice was invalid (meaning it has to be re-served).   Please bear in mind that if an improvement notice or an emergency remedial action notice has been received from the Local Authority, it will not be possible to serve a section 21 notice on the tenant for 6-months after service of that notice.

A section 8 notice is based on a fault of the tenant and can be served at any time during the fixed term, or beyond.  There are a number of grounds within the 1988 Act where, if satisfied, mean section 8 notice can be served on a tenant. Again, I would advise seeking advice from a solicitor as to whether you have a valid ground to serve this notice on the tenant.

How can Ellisons help?

We understand just how important it is to resolve disagreements quickly and as effectively as possible. Our Personal Dispute Resolution Solicitors are always on hand to make sure this happens by offering prompt, practical and strategic guidance to every unique situation to attain a positive outcome.

Whatever stage you find yourself at in your dispute, our team can help at any point with services such as mediation, arbitration, adjudication, or expert determination.

Contact the Ellisons’ Dispute Resolution team today on 01206 764477 or email us at [email protected].