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RLA statement on Government Amendment to Deregulation Bill

RLA
Written by RLA

The RLA welcomes some changes contained with the Government’s new amendments to the Deregulation Bill on Retaliatory Evictions (numbers 46A – 46J)….

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.
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About the author

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.

8 Comments

  • I totally agree with the RLA, section 2 again weighs in against the landlord, again we are all tarred with the wicked brush. I would never seek to evict a tenant over a legitimate complaint and I suspect nor would 99% of landlords. However all a bad tenant would need to do continually raise complaints, real or not, even minor in nature to delay an eviction for a legitimate reason e.g. non payment of rent.
    I also agree that the other clauses would leave the door open for a lengthy court battle.
    Wouldn’t these issues be better dealt with by some sort of independent arbitration system?

  • In 16 years of letting I only had one tenant who behaved so badly I had to evict her with a s21 notice. That one bad tenant upset the whole household before and during her notice period. She did not leave on the notice expiry date but asked for extra time to find alternative accommodation which was refused. Had she been able to serve complaints against the landlord I have no doubt this tenant would have done so and subjected the rest of the house, of perfectly lovely tenants, to misery for as long as she could. I have no doubt some of them would have got fed up and left. So, although not all tenants would make use of this ‘right to complain’ just to prolong an unsatisfactory tenancy, some would do so making life hell for the landlord and the other tenants. If there is no onus on a tenant to provide evidence that the NTQ was retaliatory, a legally aided tenant would be able to put an unreasonable financial and administrative burden on a landlord. I can see tenancy agreements getting longer and longer with obligations on tenants to follow agreed procedures for dealing with complaints. Bad idea all round.

  • I agreed with RLA to ensure that the Government clarifies section 2. I also agree that 99% of landlords don’t try to evict their tenants over necessary repairs. Some do. At least it’s my experience that some do serve s21 but most never follow up on them when the Council get involved. They use it as a threat. I have spoken to tenants on my proactive inspections when I find repairs and some tenants are worried that the landlord will evict them. The Government needs to do something about these less experience landlords who tells me that their tenants are lucky to have a roof over their head. Good landlords need not worry for two reasons one they maintain their properties and I have meet many over the 30 years of experience in this game. Secondly, not all Council officers are inexperience, we know the games some tenants play and according to most enforcement policies the landlord will always be given an opportunity to deal with disrepair before an improvement notice is served . If they fail to comply or negotiate then I am sorry there is nothing the Council can do to help. As to getting clear evidence that the section 21 was served because the tenant complained difficult one, I could suggest that this is good management, maintaining records of any complaints received from neighbours, inspections notes, letters/warning sent and use the Council’s noise and anti-social behaviour team if they wouldn’t help get them to log your complaint. Council are relying on Private rented market more so use your voice and get them to listen. Finally, I would love to say that with all the legislations the Government will get rid of bad landlords but that’s never going to happen. Should I dare mention compulsory licensing that’s for another day.

  • i fume when I read stories like this. Most of our tenants know us as good, caring landlords but there is a climate in Stoke on Trent, where certain elements of the council are ‘out to get’ landlords. One tenant in particular, one of those who continually washed and never opened a window, tried to get a council house by claiming there were two families in the property. When this did not succeed she complained to the council. I was then witch hunted by the housing department and accused of being an absentee landlord as I was in France for most of the summer (I did put this down to green eye on the part of one particular council employee). The tenant was very obstructive over repairs etc. I paid a resultant fine. The tenant then tried to get a break in rent while she went home. I refused and, to my great relief she left, owing me some money of course.
    Sadly things like this, and I could give many more, come about because tenants are not expected, by the council, to show any responsibility. They are told by the council, that they do not have to honour their lease and can move on when they wish. If rent is owed they cannot be traced or held to account as the council quote data protection for their new address. However, if they claim for a new property the council will clawback money paid legitimately to a landlord, even from another tenant account.
    So after this long rant I would like to see a situation where tenants are given a responsibility framework and councils work with landlords.

  • Council officials certainly do not tell tenants that they do not have to honour their leases. Indeed, if a tenant applies to the Local Authority as a potential homelessness applicant the background for the reason of the loss of the previous property is taken into account. That may include contacting the landlord for verification of any reason that the person has put forward.

    Councils up and down the country work with landlords through various schemes of accreditation or free advertising of property, Landlord Forums and Training courses. Now more than ever before councils continue to work closely with landlords.

    A landlord would have a legitimate complaint if they had any evidence that a tenant had been advised to breach their tenancy agreement by a council official. Complaints can be heard independently by the Local Government Ombudsman if a complainant is not satisfied with an internal resolution. The Ombudsman regularly finds against councils if evidence is available to support an allegation. I have been subject to three long and detailed investigations in which the LGO went through files with a fine tooth comb in addition to interviews.

    I encourage you to look at the LGO website for reports of successful complaints. Ensure that the council works for you. Generalised complaints do not assist a debate.

    • This is certainly not the case where I live, the council work against landlords. I have had lots of problems with the council and because of this we will no longer be accepting DSS TENENTS, as I can’t tolerate dealing with the incompetent council staff.

  • I do not believe this is the end of it.

    Shelter have been fighting for ‘secure tenancies’; for a long time’, they have not got it. So they launched a campaign on ‘revenge evictions’. In my mind it was phoney. Their goal was simple to undermine Section 21 and a sneaky way toward ‘secure tenancies’. But in the process, a landlord is going to get smeared as the sort who carries out ‘revenge evictions’. Paul Shamplina of Landlord Action (a company which carries out evictions on behalf) of Landlords said he has never heard of the term ‘revenge eviction’ until 18months ago, when Shelter launched their campaign….

    My concern, is that Shelter, will keep trying to push the boundary and set legal precedents to make Section 21 useless…

    I have had good tenants and bad ones tenants. If you can’t get rid of the bad ones, then you stuck. It is like a bad marriage without a divorce….

  • I had a property, which in my mind needed a refurbishment the following year. It was clean, hygienic, safe and warm.

    The new tenant signed the contract. The following week, told me I should refurbishment the bathroom. I explained, that this was planned for next year, but I explained his rent was £150 cheaper, so it was unfair of him to request ‘improvement’. This is like turning up a 3 star hotel and asking the owners to turn it into a 5 start hotel without paying a penny extra for it.

    I gave him two options. To release him from the contract (if he was not happy with the house) or I could do the refurbishment, but I would want £150 extra, which was the going rate.

    I also told him, that refurbishment would cause problems, how can he live with the dirt and dust and not been able to use the toilet / bathroom. All these things he should have considered before signing the contract.

    I was not happy with him, because he wanted me to give him a bogus contract, so he can tell the council that only his girlfriend lives there. So she can claim single person council tax, but it sounded more like benefit fraud. I told him, I obey the law and would not do so.

    He dumped half my furniture in the garden. He was a nightmare, very pushy and demanding.

    But I can imagine if I want to evict such a tenant, he would have claimed this is ‘revenge’ eviction even though none of what he was asking for was ‘repairs’ but ‘improvements’…..

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