Revenge evictions are being tackled in a law that came into force on 1 October 2015. The Government is also planning to increase fines for housing offences. Illegal evictions have a current fine limit of £5,000, with this removed, offenders will be liable to a potentially unlimited fine.
Its paper, Review of Property Conditions in the Private Rented Sector, was published last February, with the consultation closing at the end of last March.
The Government stated that the paper had 5,103 responses, but of these, 4,804 were part of a write-in campaign organised by a housing charity. Of the remaining 299 responses, just 37 were from landlords, letting agents and representative bodies.
One of the issues that the Government specifically consulted on was revenge evictions – when a tenant who has complained about the state of a property is evicted. In its response, the Government says: “Retaliatory eviction is wrong and its continued practice is unacceptable. “No tenant should face eviction because they have made a legitimate complaint about the condition of their home to the landlord.” The Government said that “it is likely that over 200,000 people are actually affected by retaliatory eviction every year”. An amendment to the Deregulation Bill will protect tenants against retaliatory eviction where they have raised a complaint about the condition of the property and a local authority has issued an improvement notice.
In these circumstances, it would not be possible to evict a tenant using a Section 21 notice. In addition, the amendment says that where a landlord has failed to comply with certain legal obligations, the tenant cannot be evicted. In its response, the Government says: “We envisage that this will apply to Energy Performance Certificates and Gas Safety Certifications. The restriction on the service of an eviction notice would be lifted as soon as these documents are provided.”
The Government response also details its plans to clamp down on selective licensing schemes by amending the General Approval.