“Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” - Buddha
The fact that retaliatory evictions have been legislated on as part of the Deregulation Act (2015) shows that there are some landlords out there with both poor business judgement and a lack of empathy. It is usually a lot cheaper to fix a problem than pay to evict a tenant and then risk void periods with no rent coming in or a new tenant that makes the same complaint.
As of 1st October 2015, if a tenant complains about disrepair that is not dealt with, a landlord will not be able to evict a tenant using a section 21. This is only for tenancies beginning on or after the 1st October.
The way it works is that if a tenant makes a legitimate complaint about disrepair at the property, the landlord or agent has 14 days for a written response detailing what action will be taken to address the disrepair. If no response or action is taken, the tenant can complain to the relevant local authority who can then serve an improvement notice. Once this notice is served, a section 21 will be invalid for 6 months from this date. Even if a section 21 is served before the maintenance issue arises and an improvement notice is served, this will still be deemed invalid (as long as they contacted the landlord before the council).
There are a few exceptions:
- If the bad condition of the property is due to a breach of the tenant’s responsibilities
- The section 21 is served when the property is genuinely on the market for sale
- The landlord is a registered provider of social housing
- The property was mortgaged prior to the tenancy and the mortgage lender wishes to exercise the power of sale and needs vacant possession
Of course, as there are bad landlords burning their hands with hot coals, there are bad tenants too. It is important that any communication is kept in writing so if a non-genuine claim of retaliatory eviction from a tenant arises, there is evidence to show the courts.