An evictions expert has warned Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Central Sarah Teather to act with caution in her proposed Private Members’ Bill to stop “retaliatory evictions”
Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, says that without proper guidelines and enough resources to manage this process, tenants could use it as a loophole against reputable and responsible landlords.
He said: “We accept there are rogue landlords manipulating and preying on tenants in a very buoyant lettings market and they should not be able to get away with evicting simply because a tenant has asked for repairs. However, we have also experienced cases where tenants have purposely caused damage to a property to show greater disrepair problems for the benefit of a court case.
“The complexities of determining what is deemed ‘reasonable repair’ will require consideration and considerable resource to avoid possession claims being unnecessarily thrown out. Landlord must still be able to use Section 21 notices if they need their property back to sell or live in themselves, for example.”
Landlord Action says there would need to be a greater number of Environmental Health Officers, who are already overloaded, in order to properly investigate properties reported as retaliatory evictions.
“There must also be something worked into the Bill which will ensure tenants give landlords sufficient access to the property in order to carry out the said repairs. This is a major complaint of landlords who come to Landlord Action,” Shamplina added, “The majority of landlords are good respectable people who will happily carry out repairs, and my concern is that, if not thought out and implemented correctly, such proposals could end up being detrimental to those good landlords. There needs to be firm guidelines as to how this is going to be actioned and I would advise Sarah Teather to consult landlord organisations and expert companies in respect to helping with the detail of this Bill.”
As the National Landlords Association (NLA) has done this week, Landlord Action also questioned the figures quoted by Shelter suggesting more than 200,000 people a year are evicted, or served with an eviction notice, after complaining to their landlord about a problem that was not their responsibility.
“I would be interested to see how these are broken down as the figures seem surprisingly high,” said Shamplina.