Landlords are calling on government to seek clear, independent evidence on the scale of retaliatory eviction before legislating on the problem.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has welcomed calls by MPs and Peers to hold off on new legislation to restrict so-called revenge evictions which could damage the private rented sector.
A new report by a cross-party group of MPs and Peers has called for much better data on the scale of retaliatory evictions in the private rented sector and questioned whether new restrictions are really necessary.
A private member’s bill to address retaliatory evictions – where tenants who complain about the state of their property are then issued with an eviction notice – failed to pass through the House of Commons in November. But peers are to debate similar measures as an amendment to the Deregulation Bill in the New Year.
And now the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Private Rented Sector has published a report warning that without more evidence to clarify the ‘bewildering’ variety of data on the issue, it’s not certain that legislation is ‘necessarily the best tool’.
The RLA said the report offered a welcome opportunity to consider the true extent of the problems of retaliatory evictions before further action is taken.
RLA chairman Alan Ward said:
“Today’s report brings some much-needed clear thinking to the debate which should be based on facts and data and not on hyperbole.
“Retaliatory evictions are wrong and the RLA condemns any landlord who engages in such practices. But the RLA agrees that Parliament needs clear, independent evidence on the scale of the problem before it can decide how best to take the matter forward. The Minister has admitted the government does not have the data.”
The amendment to the Deregulation Bill would mean that where a landlord is given a notice from their local authority to improve their property, they could not regain possession of the home for six months.
But the RLA supports the APPG’s view that this approach would provide no incentive for a landlord to rectify problems swiftly. The report instead calls for a landlord to regain possession rights as soon as improvements have been made.
The MPs and Peers also call for a time limit to be set in which a local authority would have to investigate a tenant’s complaint. After this, the report calls for landlord to regain full rights to repossess the property to avoid an indefinite period of limbo for tenants and landlords alike.
Alan Ward said of this proposal:
“It is simply absurd that the amendment could potentially leave a tenant trapped in what could be unsafe properties for a prolonged period of time.”
- On the 11th November 2014, Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP confirmed in a written answer to Oliver Colvile MP, Chairman of the APPG for the Private Rented Sector, that the Government does not hold data on the number of retaliatory evictions that take place. The question and answer can be found at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2014-10-28.212213.h&s=%28evictions%29+speaker%3A24898#g212213.q0 .
- The RLA’s written evidence to the inquiry can be accessed at http://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/lobbying/retaliatory-evictions/index.shtml?ref=current-activity