Landlord Assist, the nationwide tenant eviction and rent collection firm, is concerned that a new law preventing landlords from evicting tenants for simply pointing out faults and asking for repairs may be used by tenants to frustrate legitimate evictions rather than weed out poor performing landlords.
The Government has decided to back a Bill which will make it illegal to evict tenants who make justifiable complaints to their landlords. If passed, the Bill will prevent evictions within six months of a tenant requesting a repair job.
A recent report stated that 200,000 people suffered from so-called revenge evictions in the last year, whereby landlords have served tenants with eviction notices for requesting repairs to be made to the property.
Graham Kinnear Managing Director at Landlord Assist says: “We accept that it is important to prevent revenge evictions from taking place. However, our concern is that the new Bill penalises the majority of landlords by tipping the balance of the eviction process more in favour of tenants who may use the new measures to hold up eviction proceedings against them.
“The ability to re-possess a property from ‘problem tenants’ and launch eviction proceedings against them is an essential right of landlords, especially at a time when demand for rented accommodation is outstripping supply and landlords want to limit the length of void periods. We believe the new law will potentially dilute landlords’ eviction rights with many tenants using the law to hold up eviction proceedings for six months.”
Stephen Parry Commercial Director at Landlord Assist says: “The number of evictions we handle where the landlord wants possession simply because the tenant has made a request for a repair we could count on the fingers of one hand. The vast majority of cases we deal with are due to arrears of rent or anti-social behaviour by the tenant.
“Landlords are generally pleased that the tenant highlights maintenance issues as it prevents further damage being caused to the property. Furthermore, the landlord has a vested interest in the upkeep of their property given that they naturally want to protect the value of their investment and the longevity of the tenancy. “
Despite their concerns, Landlord Assist accepts that the new Bill may work in instances where the local authority inspects the repair needed and agrees that it represents a health and safety issue.
“On this basis it all makes a lot of sense, and may even be capable of assisting landlords in gaining repossession of their property,” adds Parry. “A tenant will occasionally put in a defence to an eviction application that they stopped paying their rent due to a repair being needed at the property despite the landlord not being notified of this matter previously. This new law could mean that such a defence is no longer usable unless the landlord has been made aware or the local authority has inspected and agreed that the repair is required. ”
It is unclear whether the Bill will be passed before the next general election.