Government ministers have given their backing in principle to a Private Member’s Bill to outlaw so-called “revenge evictions”.
Tenants’ groups and Shelter have long claimed that many tenants are evicted simply for asking their landlord for repairs to be completed.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams said Sarah Teather’s Bill would help root out a minority of spiteful landlords and ensure that hardworking tenants are not afraid to ask for better standards in their homes.
The Bill will extend the existing restrictions on a landlord’s power to evict, where they don’t protect a deposit or have a licence they are required to hold, to situations where a health and safety hazard has been identified by environmental health officers.
The Government said that whilst the vast majority of landlords offer a good quality professional service a few rogues shirk their legal responsibilities and use the threat of eviction to silence tenants from rightly speaking out against sub-standard and dangerous accommodation.
Accepting a petition from Shelter on revenge evictions, Minister for Communities Stephen Williams said: “Our private rental sector is a vital asset, providing a home to 9 million people across the country. So I’m determined to root out the minority of rogue landlords that give it a bad name.
“That’s why we’re backing Sarah Teather’s Bill to outlaw revenge evictions once and for all - ensuring tenants do not face the prospect of losing their home simply because they’ve asked for essential repairs to be made.”
Matt Downie, director of policy and external affairs at Crisis, said the Bill was a welcome step towards ending revenge evictions.
“All tenants should be able to ask their landlord for repairs or to complain about poor conditions without the fear of losing their home.
“Too many renters are forced to put up with horrendous conditions, powerless in the face of landlords who ignore their responsibilities and unable to complain for fear of eviction. Our own research has revealed shocking stories of formerly homeless people with no other choice but to live in cold, damp, infested conditions that are a danger to their health and wellbeing.
"This bill will give people the confidence to demand improvements and we will be working with the Government, Sarah Teather and other parliamentary supporters to help make this legislation a reality.”
However the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said the Bill would make it easier for nightmare tenants to cause problems for their communities and landlords alike.
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.
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.”