A “revenge eviction”, is when a landlord ends a tenancy or submits a section 21 notice after a tenant has complained to the landlord about a matter relating to the rented property. New rules came into effect on 1 October 2015, which affect how section 21 notices to end a tenancy can be used. After the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) has expired, a landlord can use a section 21 notice to bring the tenancy to an end without giving a reason.
The new law is intended to stamp out ‘revenge’ evictions, where a tenant complains about the state of a property and the landlord responds by issuing a section 21 notice, asking them to leave. Campaign groups such as Tenants’ Rights Leeds complained that this frequently happens, leaving tenants scared to raise legitimate concerns about the state of their home.
For tenancies starting after 1 October 2015, landlords are now unable to issue a section 21 notice if their tenant has previously complained in writing about the condition of the rental property and the landlord has failed to deal with the complaint adequately. From 1 October 2018, the new rule will apply to all tenancies, regardless of when they began.
What are the changes in law and how do they affect landlords?
– When a tenant complains, in writing, to their landlord about the condition of their property, the landlord has 14 days to respond.
– If the landlord responds and then carries out the desired work, this will have no impact on their right to serve a Section 21 notice in the future.
– If the repairs/improvements are not carried out or the landlord fails to respond to the tenant’s written complaint within 14 days, the tenant then has the right to complain to their local authority.
– The local authority then has to decide whether it wants to issue the landlord with a Relevant Notice – which requires the landlord to carry out the work/improvements on the rental property.
– If the local authority does not issue a Relevant Notice, this does not affect the landlord’s right to issue a Section 21 notice.
– If the local authority does not clearly decide whether to issue a Relevant Notice, tenants will be able to successfully defend a Section 21 notice, if served with one.
– If the local authority does decide to issue a Relevant Notice, as well as having to carry out the repairs/improvements to the property, the landlord will not be able to serve a Section 21 notice for six months from that date.
Some agents and landlords say rogue tenants could exploit the new law by making spurious claims in order to delay the eviction process.