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Ministers making it easier for nightmare tenants

RLA
Written by RLA

Government support for evictions legislation will make it easier for nightmare tenants to cause problems for their communities and landlords alike…

Government support for evictions legislation will make it easier for nightmare tenants to cause problems for their communities and landlords alike.

Landlords have attacked a government decision to outlaw ‘revenge evictions’.

Explaining its opposition, the Residential Landlords Association says the unintended consequences of limiting landlords’ right to re-possess a property could lose market confidence and further buy-to-let investment at a time when the private rented sector is the only area of growth in rented homes.

The country’s leading landlord organisation is today calling on the Government to avoid playing to people’s fears on tenant evictions as it was announced that it will be supporting a legislation being promoted by Sarah Teather MP to outlaw so called ‘revenge eviction’.

The RLA claims that by supporting this proposal, Ministers are handing nightmare tenants who bring misery to the lives of their neighbours and landlords alike, another weapon to prevent their removal.

Making it more difficult to evict anti-social tenants will make the good landlords think twice about investing in much needed new homes, leaving the market more open for crooked landlords who operate under the radar.

Commenting on the developments, RLA chairman, Alan Ward said:

“Revenge evictions should not have any place in a today’s rental market and we would condemn strongly any landlord caught doing it.

“However, by backing a measure to tackle the minority of criminal landlords, Ministers will be penalising the vast majority of good landlords by making it ever easier for nightmare tenants to hold up eviction proceedings and continue causing misery for communities.

“We need a rational debate. Sadly today’s announcement is once again polarising the sector and giving a false impression that you can be on the side of the landlord or the tenant, but not both.” 

The Residential Landlords Association is concerned that Communities and Local Government Minister, Stephen Williams MP, in supporting the Bill, has failed to mention the Government’s own statistics that just 9% of tenancies are ended by a landlord largely on the basis of rent not being paid or tenants committing anti-social behaviour.

Former Lib Dem Communities and Local Government Minister, Sir Andrew Stunnell MP, in 2011 said, “The ability to gain possession of their property is key to a landlord’s confidence in letting out that property in the first place, and in the current economic climate, we would not want to undermine that confidence.”

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RLA

RLA

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) represents the interests of landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) across England and Wales. With over 23,000 subscribing members, and an additional 16,000 registered guests who engage regularly with the association, we are the leading voice of private landlords. Combined, they manage almost half a million properties.

30 Comments

  • In 25 years of being a landlord I can honestly say I would never evict a tenant unless there were rent arrears or anti social behaviour. First there is the cost of eviction and sourcing a new tenant. If a tenant has a genuine complaint then it should be addressed quickly and efficiently as it’s more profitable to have a reliable and decent tenant. Sadly on the occasions when I have evicted I have always lost out financially without exception. Secondly unless you have property in an area of high demand you may well suffer from very expensive voids. The ministers should understand one cap does not fit all.

    • As a landlord of over 10 years i have had to evict only one tenant in that time due to non payment of rent, property damage, anti social behaviour and possibly drug use. It took so long to remove this person as all the legislation currently appears to favour the tenants. The costs in repairs and loss of rent ran into hundreds if not thousands of pounds as well as disruption to a nice residential area with late night parties most nights. I have never had to remove a tenant due to them asking for repairs in fact i am very pro active on this point as my reputation means a lot to me.

  • This is very worrying. In over 30 years as a landlord I have never evicted a tenant because they asked for repairs. We have always had a good relationship with tenants and 99% of the time their tenancies only ended when they decided to move on.

    .Most Landlords are very happy to be informed when repairs are required and indeed it forms part of the contract that the tenant signs when they take on the tenancy. The majority of landlords are worried not only about their tenants well being but about their investments.and it would be a very foolish landlord that would not take good care of his investment.
    However while there are model tenants there are also nightmare tenants whose lifestyle can cause tremendous problems and stress for Landlords. It is not a happy situation when a landlord sees his property being ruined by a tenant who is refusing to change his lifestyle or is causing problems in the neighbourhood and the Landlord cannot evict him.
    Landlords have to be able to evict nightmare tenants quickly and easily otherwise a lot of Landlords will not invest in buy to let property because nightmare tenants could put the out of business. The risk is too great.

  • When will we have legislation that forces tenants to have a licence to rent, something that can be revoked or marked if they refuse to abide by tenancy agreements and social decency and respect for other peoples property?

    • This is a brilliant idea.

      The flats I own have conditions in the leases which I must adhere to and pass this responsibility onto the tenants.. eg.. No noise after 11 at night. If my tenant wants to play loud music till 4am I need to be able to warn them and then evict them before I loose the property as I’m not sticking to the terms of the lease. I like the idea of a tenant having a licence as I would then know what ‘type of person’ I was renting to.

    • I agree Tenants should have a licence or Landlords should have rights when the Tenant is acting in an antisocial manner. Has anyone had my lastest stress.
      A tenant gives notice before their AST has run its course too early, because of the type of tenant i let them get away with it.Just before their choosen moving date they deciede they have no where to go, although the property was for sale i allowed them to stay another month. When moving date came they wanted another day then day and a half evenually two extra days of which they did not want to pay for. When i arrived at their choosen time i wanted to deduct from their deposit the outstanding rent, one day charges and £10 for not cleaning their oven since they moved in. It went wrong from then which ended with the police being called.
      Now they have issued complaints about our company and taking action against us and my understanding so far is they are going to get away with it.

      • If your landlord records are good, then in relation to the deductions that you made from the deposit and varied vacation dates, there should not be any problem for you defending this action.

        As you have only made a general assertion about the ‘tenants taking action against’ you and that “they are going to get away with it”it does not leave anything to make further comment about, but unfortunately it is this type of general assertion that makes tenants or indeed landlords (if the assertion was the other way) look bad.

  • All governments in the UK continue to make it more difficult for landlords to evict bad tenants. The relationship between the landlord and tenant is not an equal one, and it should be.

    In America it takes about 3 weeks to evict a bad tenant, in the UK 6 months. It is riduculous.

    It would be better to use local government housing officers to help weed out the bad landlords and stop so called “revenge” evictions. Typical of this country, use a sledge hammer to crack a nut. All good landlords want the bad ones evicted from the market. but alienating them by this sort of legislation is definitely not the way to go.

    • In most circumstances a landlord chooses to enter the business of being a landlord even if it is a small business of just one property.

      Unfortunately, a tenant has no choice in needing somewhere to live; the need for a roof over a person’s head is a basic necessity. They could of course live outdoors but then the likes of Tesco may insert spikes on an edge of pavement to make it a little more uncomfortable for the residents. Westminster council used to direct hose pipes on people in the mornings some years ago – well I suppose it gave them a wash.

      A landlord needs to take into account the possibility of having bad tenants as they are one of the risks in a business environment, even though the idea of a tenant licence may seem attractive, it is unworkable.

  • The RLA and NLA must keep on with their research figures.
    Please keep pointing out what is obvious to any business person, the landlord’s interest is in keeping their properties full of paying tenants, who work in partnership with the landlord by behaving according to the contract and not causing problems in the neighbourhood, and if they do not do these 3 things the business person, the landlord, will have to do something about it in order to continue providing accommodation.
    The difficult tenant needs to know that they are endangering their tenancy. The good tenant who co-operates can stay for ever, unless the landlord has to sell. If the ministers cannot understand that, then they are using landlords, who they rely on to supply a growing percentage of accommodation, as whipping boys, without the full facts, which along with the other ill founded bureaucracy piled upon us will dissuade further investment.
    Unfortunately the Ministers are not holding the likes of Shelter to their true responsibilities in caring for vulnerable people. Have they not worked out how seriously they are failing in their duty of care by passing on the responsibility to landlords. The neighbourhoods in rental areas are fed up with these vulnerable people being ‘dumped’ in the HMO’s in their streets, and being left with the only possible support of the landlord, who is not aware of the vulnerable persons issues, certainly not trained to cover the multitude of conditions, with no immediate help available to the neighbours or the landlord.
    This needs to be strongly pointed out…why are we the whipping boys yet again, expected to cope with the issues they cannot cope with.
    Why has no responsible and experienced consideration been given to how to deal with this without passing the buck, and to support all our communities.

  • I am afraid that we have the classic case of ” Band Wagon “politics an MP latching onto a popular outcry to profile his or hers advancement .I am involved in politics in a small way and see it all the time .Unless the common sense majority convince the politicians that it is a lost cause the legislation will go through .
    The figures are plain to see 91% of landlords behave in a professional manner the proposed legislation is a hammer to crack a nut .Many Politicians are Landlords , perhaps we should target them to talk some sense to the legislators We must try and remove the blinkers from the ill informed politicians .Perhaps an on line petition handed in to 10 Downing Street .
    Until we have an official register of Landlords criminal landlords will carry on bringing the rest of us down .

    +

  • A problem also manifests its self, my council voted to pay housing benefit directly to the tenant who got into debt immediately by not paying her rent, we were lax with this tenant by allowing her to continue the tenancy after falling out with her partner thus claiming benefit she left after an eviction notice owing me a lot of rent it was no good chasing her for the money because she has none, she claims to have dyslexia and can’t work. Regards Ray Stone

  • I’ve been a landlord for 15 years and view tenants who pay and stay, look after the property and don’t cause any issues with neighbours, as a godsend. They benefit from minimal rent increases and rapid response to any request for repairs.

    Unfortunately there’s the other end of the spectrum where tenants pay the first month and don’t pay thereafter or manage turn a clean, newly decorated and carpeted house in to a sewer in a handful of months.

    I’ve only ever asked people to leave due to non-payment of rent or causing unacceptable damage to the property. The eviction process, even with the clear step-by-step approach of schedule 21, is time-consuming and mentally draining. If it doesn’t go to court it’s not expensive but it is more money to find in addition to the rent that you’re not receiving throughout the process. Most landlords aren’t multi-millionaires and the mortgage still has to be paid.

    Does it really make sense to put such a glaring loophole in the schedule 21 process that could be exploited by unscrupulous tenants? What’s to stop them causing the damage and demanding a repair only to damage something else to further delay the process? This will also increase the likelihood of it having to go to court with the associated time and costs.

    Due to the ever-increasing challenges associated with ASTs, not least of all the legislative burdens and moving goal-posts, I’ve already transferred a number of my properties to Holidaylets. Another property is about to become free after a tenant of 2 years has given notice to move out and live with his girlfriend. He thanked me for being such a good landlord. The property isn’t suitable for a holidaylet and after reading this article I think I’ll put it on the market instead of renting it out again…. having suffered the tenant from hell the time before I don’t want to risk going through a section 21 eviction with one hand tied behind my back.

    Is that what the government wants – reduced rental stock, leading to a restriction on people movability and higher prices for tenants? The country will be left with a disproportionate number of bad landlords because they’ll stay in the market whilst others leave: bad landlords don’t care about the legislation because they ignore it anyway and intimidate tenants who complain. Another outcome the government wouldn’t be looking for either, I suspect?

    If any MPs ever get to read this, don’t use the private rented sector as a platform for sensational misinformation on which to promote your career. There’s too much at stake.

  • I generally agree with the comments but the original post is inflammatory nonsense. The fact of the matter is that up to 200 000 tenancie are subject to revenge evictions and the proposal really only covers the failure to repair in circumstances that require Environmental Health to issue a certificate or the failure to repair effectively produces a legal breach.

    Grabbing a cheap headline does not contribute to a serious. debate

    • Thank you for your comment Colin.

      In regards to ‘inflammatory’ we all have our views on things…for example, the figure of 200,000 ‘revenge’ evictions was taken from a Shelter survey if I am not mistaken? From what I recall, this number was extrapolated from a much, much smaller number…yet because it was a Shelter ‘survey’ (a group that does a lot of good for people in need, I hasten to add) no-one dares question the figures.

      However, when landlords point to official Government data sets, which explicitly show that only 9% of ALL tenancies are ended by landlords – and the majority of these instances on the back of arrears and serious anti-social behaviours – it is considered manipulation and falsification.

      A rational debate is needed now as much as ever, however the emotional aspect of tenants, who may have genuinely suffered at the hands of criminals posing as landlords, has kiboshed any standing that good and professional landlords may once have had…

      Yes. There are criminals posing as landlords…but tenants also have responsibilities in rented properties. Councils need private landlords as social housing is a costly endeavour and making the sector work for both tenant and landlord is the challenge.

      Thank you for your comment.
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  • I have been a landlord for almost 25 years. I have never evicted a tenant because he/she asked for repairs.
    However, I had to evict two council tenants for antisocial social behaviour and comletely ignoring terms of lease. One asked me to evict her so that she could get a council flat. When I did, she turned against me. On eviction she left the flat in a mess,even her unwashed crockery in the kitchen sink. Her father assaulted for informing the council about this, intimated my prospective tenants. Her boy friend who lived with her despite the fact that he was not part of the tenancy agreement, caused more antisocial problems by using the flat as a drugs den, repairing his engines, leaving oil and petrol filled parts under the fire stairs , ruining the common areas with oil spots and his finger prints on the doors. He is still in the block (taken shelter with another tenant – I do not know what has he offered this tenant that he is ready to be evicted rather than ask this man to go).
    Im still living with this nightmare, have asked police to help as I fear this man might attack me as his girlfriend’s father did. The police are unable to do anything.
    If the minister thinks this is fine then he should come and see this for himself before he go ahead with his ill thought legislation.

  • I have been involved with the private rented sector for over 30 years at both ends as a landlord and a regulatory officer. I personally feel that everything about renting (and selling houses) should be in some way a licensed activity even for private landlords. This obviously wouldn’t be popular with many of you but if it where to be a legal requirement whereby even tenants had to register as a tenant and also landlords/agents had to complete say a minimum of 8 hours CPD ( continuous professional development) every year alongside regulatory officers as well for a small license fee per year, I think the sector would improve immensely.

    It would have to be done in conjunction with stiffening up the rules and regs regarding tenants, their behaviour and their actions and have a compulsory knock on of banning them from obtaining a new tenancy anywhere including getting a council house if they are made homeless by their own actions. Also, many of the rules and regs for landlords/agents etc should be repealed and reconstituted in a fairer and easier to use, less technical legislative tool that everyone can understand.

    This way things would be easier to administer, easier to evict, easier to deal with poor landlords and tenants alike. The license fee alone if it where around the £25 mark per year in the area I work, would pay for all 8 housing officers wages (tax payers currently pay the wages), any special tools and the surplus could be used to employ a housing specialist at a local college who can deliver the CPD free of charge to the people who are required to take it. I appreciate many of you wouldn’t like this type of thing, but done right many in my position would disagree with you. The whole idea is obviously more than I can outline in this comment box but the studies we have completed so far including getting our local MP’s on board have proven very promising.

    Think about it, a very unregulated market with many regulations that control it. We’ll never get rid of the regulations so long as there are idiot landlord and agents out there renting poor and highly overpriced accommodation so why not regulate it properly and get rid of the idiots which in turn will lift the sector and potentially provide you with more tenants. Our only concern is that it would probably be written and enacted as law by those in power who don’t have their fingers on the pulse at root level.

  • Do not let your property to DSS tenants.

    That’s the clear message being sent out by the government.

    If the govenment WANTED private landords to assist in social housing, they would make the process easier and landlord friendly, rather than create the financial and beurocratic nightmare thats its becoming at the moment.

    I suspect that in five years time, when there is a social housing crisis, (due to private landlords learning that it just does not pay to let to DSS tenants), that they will be looking for ways to reverse most of the anti landlord legislation that is being introduced on an almost weekly basis now.

  • M.Rafi, The proposed legislation has nothing to do with the circumstances that you outline and it therefore confuses the debate. I doubt that the Minister would think that the situation is ‘fine’ and therefore the Government has introduced new grounds and amended grounds for possesion under the Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 to assist landlords. It would be worthwhile for you to look at that legislation and comment on that rather than an irrelevant comment on this issue that concerns a failure to keep a property up to modern standards.

    Furthermore the government is also looking at ways that the rent arrears possesion claims can be speeded up for landlords. The propsed legislation on disrepair is just a small benefit for tenants thatt will not have any affect on good landlords.

  • I don’t understand this article –

    1. the proposed legislation addresses retaliatory eviction
    2. RLA chairman, Alan Ward said:“Revenge evictions should not have any place in a today’s rental market and we would condemn strongly any landlord caught doing it.”
    3. your headline says: “Ministers making it easier for nightmare tenants”.

    Your reporting is inaccurate, intolerant and an insult to our intelligence.

    The English Housing Survey (published in Feb 2014), sponsored by the government, reported that over 30% of private sector homes failed to meet the legal fitness standard.

    It strikes me that if you look at jurisdictions over the North Sea, the RLA doesn’t know when it is well off!

    • Thanks for the comment Toby.

      The proposals would make it possible for tenants who have genuinely caused good landlords legitimate grounds for evictions – significant arrears, anti-social behaviours, etc – the chance to slow down the eviction process.

      The housing survey you refer to also states that 84% of tenants in private housing are happy with their landlord and properties. We simply argue that the professional landlords need to be supported to better serve their tenants.

      • For claims of rent arrears, anti-social behaviour, etc., landlords use section 8 to obtain possession. The proposals only apply to section 21 proceedings, they have no impact whatsoever of section 8 claims.

        Even if the proposals become law there isn’t a European private landlord who wouldn’t bite your arm off for such a regime.

        The tone of your response makes the RLA look like a bunch of moaners, that’s poor PR and doesn’t reflect the positivity of the UK’s professional landlords.

        As for the English Housing Survey, the statistic on fitness is objective. The happiness of tenants on the other hand is subjective and reflects the fact that they are resigned to their fate, which includes the prospect of retaliatory eviction if they attempt to assert what few rights they do have.

      • Of course the 84% of respondents are vulnerable to retaliatory evictions – that may well temper their resolve to complain.

        And as you know, if landlords do have naughty tenants they can avoid the use of the “retaliatory eviction” ruse by seeking possession under the Housing Act 1988, section 8.

        As I say, landlords within this jurisdiction are the envy of the world.

  • Any competent Environmental Health officer even at a trainee level should be able to distinguish between a legitimate complaint of disrepair caused by the failure of a landlord to keep the property in a condition required by the HHSRS, and a fictitious or manufactured complaint by a tenant.

    In any circumstance the existing Enforcement Code that requires a local authority to advise a landlord of a disrepair and seek their proposals to remedy the problem will be likely to continue to operate and therefore it will not mean that a notice is slapped on a property immediately. Therefore if the tenants are “nightmare” and the landlord has reasonable property records including property management, they will be able prove to the authority that the disrepair is down to the tenant and not the landlord and that the tenant may therefore be using the system for their own ends.

    The landlord can still use the Section 8 procedure on grounds of the tenant having broken a term (or possibly more than one) of the tenancy. A well drafted claim should progress reasonably through the Courts. Judges are also able to detect sham defences and counter claims.and can also if they wish make a wasted costs order. As was posted above the government is trying to make possession based upon ASB easier. It is a landlord’s choice if they choose to ignore that method. The next few months will enable you to consider suitable amendments if you think that the proposals are in anyway flawed.

  • In 30 years as an Agent we have only evicted 3 tenants, we do our best to resolve issues with Tenants. If Tenants are vindictive and provoke and provoke Landlords by making complaints, not paying their rent and not making an effort to maintain the property what is a Landlord to do when they are completely disruptive. What they really want is one of the small stock of council houses. It is unacceptable for those who have no experience of the market at all to jump on a bandwagon. Without the Private Rented Sector this county would be in a total mess.

  • I’ve been a landlord for 5 years in that time I’ve only served notice once because we are not receiving rent, and had damage to the property. The government need to wake up, things are too much in the tenants favour as we are now looking at court as the notice period is up and the tenant is refusing to go. This could cost us thousands with lost rent damage to the property and court costs. We are good landlords who fix problem’s with the property’s when they are reported. The property’s are our investment so we like to keep them in very good order and have good relationship’s with our tenants as this usually ensures a smooth tenancy. We are now looking at refusing any more DSS tenants!!

  • Please stick with this, it is on subject, eventually;
    I have recently had an improvement order placed on one of my cottages by our local EHO. The cottage is double glazed, centrally heated and has an EPC grade E. Part of the order requires wall cladding insulation to a ‘non habitable’ utility room. The structure is solid wall and tile over, ie standard British form.
    The ‘revenge clause’ will remove the operation of section 21 where an improvement notice has been served.
    Councils already collude with tenants to help them delay or avoid eviction, because they are the landlord of last resort.
    No doubt housing departments will start suggesting that tenants complain about repairs and EHOs will willingly issue unwarranted improvement notices as soon as they have this new tool in their armoury.
    I used my experience above to illustrate how the improvement notice can be used against very common building types, basically all lean to roofs and Victorian walls can be the subject of a notice if the EHO chooses. My EHO told me that he didn’t have to take any notice of building regulations or EPCs, put his hand on the wall where he had removed the wall paper, and said “yes that is cold”
    I subsequently found that the tenant’s own washing machine had been leaking 1/2 a pint of water a day in the utility room which caused condensation through the house.

    • The issue of the Improvement Notice gives you rights as a landlord in that you may apply to the First Tier Tribunal for a revocation or variation of the Notice. You state that a part of the Order requires the work on the utility room to be done that seems to imply that there are other things that did require work to be carried out.

      If the EHO has not followed the Enforcement Code then that may also be subject to a cost free complaint through the Council’s internal system that could result in a withdrawal of that part of the Notice that you think is unfair.

      In my experience Local Authority officers do not usually want to create extra work for themselves that they cannot justify. In the same light I have also rejected requests for me to make representations about alleged disrepair on behalf of tenants where the facts do not support the allegations. Landlords should use the processes open to them if they consider that allegations are unjust rather than just complaining that tenants and councils are biased or unfair.

  • I spend half of my year in the UK, the other half in my wife’s home country of Thailand. Thai tenants have NO laws to protect them, not one! The outcome of this? NO Thai tenant ever falls behind with the rent, there are no reasons for evictions and landlords and tenants live side by side very peacefully. If someone loses their job and then struggles financially they sit down with their landlord and work out a compromise that suits both. The law has no reason to get involved and nobody loses. The UK is far too busy making laws for laws for the simple sake of keeping people in jobs. And we call ourselves a civilised nation!

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