The RLA welcomes some changes contained with the Government’s new amendments to the Deregulation Bill on Retaliatory Evictions (numbers 46A – 46J).
In particular the RLA welcomes the Government decision that:
- A tenant should first have to go straight to a landlord to raise a complaint in writing to give the landlord time to rectify the problem before involving the local authority (Section 2 (a) and (b) ).
- That Secretary of State can introduce regulations (amendment 46G) that would require landlords to provide tenants with details of their rights and responsibilities. The RLA has long campaigned for more informed tenants and this is a welcome step. The RLA looks forward to working with Ministers and other organisations on the detail of this important measure.
Overall however, the RLA believes this amendment to be a complex solution that amounts to a lawyers charter.
Of particular concern is:
- Section 2 (b) (iii). Under this a Section 21 notice would be invalid where a landlord issues one following a complaint being made by the tenant. The RLA is concerned that landlords who seek to issue a Section 21 notice because of a tenant not paying their rent or committing anti-social behaviour could be prevented from doing so because it happened to coincide also with a complaint being made by a tenant about conditions in the properties. The RLA believes a better approach would be that proof has to be given that a Section 21 notice has been given directly in response to a complaint as opposed to another legitimate reason such as tenant rent arrears of poor behaviour.
- Section 3. Once a landlord has received a written complaint from a tenant, they would then have 14 days to provide an “adequate response” to the problem raised which would need to outline how the landlord intends to deal with the complaint in a “reasonable timescale”. The RLA believes clarity is needed as to who would decide what an “adequate response” and a “reasonable timescale” would be. This potentially becomes a substantial lawyer’s charter, bogging tenants and landlords in court processes that are already unable to cope with the volume of work they have at present. The RLA therefore calls on the Government to undertake a review on the capacity and ability of the courts and local authorities to process the extra work that this would inevitably entail.
- Amendment 46B, Section 1. This would mean that a landlord’s Section 21 rights would not be curtailed where the problem is as a result of tenant actions. For example, mould in the property due to tenants leaving washing to dry in the house without ventilating it properly by opening windows. The RLA believes again that this would create huge pressures on the courts as landlords and tenants dispute who is or is not responsible for a problem in the property.