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Preventing Retaliatory Eviction

Now over a month on since the Deregulation Bill became an Act of Parliament, we wanted to further advise on one particular and significant part of this Act;  “Preventing retaliatory eviction” . This section within the Act is aimed at preventing landlords who, when faced with a complaint about disrepair from a tenant, serve a Housing Act 1988 section 21 notice and then seek to terminate the tenancy, rather than tackle the disrepair and pay out compensation.

In summary:

If a landlord is served with a Housing Act 2004 improvement notice in relation to category 1 or category 2 hazards, or an emergency remedial action notice under s40(7) of the Housing Act 2004 a s21 notice cannot be served within 6 months of the Housing Act 2004 notice being served, or within 6 months of such a notice being suspended.

Any s21 notice served by a landlord or Agent will be invalid if:

Before the notice was served, the tenant had made a written complaint to the landlord (or the landlord's agent) about the condition of the dwelling-house

The landlord did not provide a response to the complaint within 14 days or provided an inadequate response (by not describing the remedial action to be taken nor setting out a reasonable timescale for such action)

The landlord served a s21 notice following the tenant's complaint

The tenant then complained to their local housing authority about the matter, and

The local housing authority then served a Housing Act 2004 improvement/emergency remedial notice on the landlord

If proceedings have been commenced by a landlord based on a s21 notice, the courts must strike out possession proceedings based on that s21 notice if, before the order for possession is made, the s21 notice is deemed invalid by virtue of the existence of the circumstances listed above.

There are some safeguards aimed at preventing both parties abusing the new powers:-

A tenant cannot rely on disrepair where the disrepair is caused by the tenant.

A landlord can still serve a s21 notice, irrespective of the above, if the property is genuinely being marketed for sale.

The provisions do not apply if a lender is seeking vacant possession to sell, provided the mortgage was granted prior to the commencement of the tenancy.

At present, the new provisions will only apply to tenancies created after the provisions of the new Act came into force.

This leaves tenants able to complain about disrepair, even if it is relatively minor, without the worry that their landlord may serve a s21 notice to evict them.

Landlords, however, should note that the Act does only prevent possession being sought on the back of a no-fault, s21 notice. Landlords can still therefore seek possession on one or more of the Housing Act 1988 grounds, irrespective of whether a tenant has raised an issue of disrepair.

Please rest assured, such escalated issues are rare and we do our best at Andrew Grant to help all reported issues reach a suitable and fair resolution. This article is purely for information and updating purposes and as always, our team are on hand to answer any questions you may have.  

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