Tenants not being protected from revenge evictions

Only five per cent of private sector tenants who complained to councils about the condition of t heir homes are being properly protected by their local authorities.

According to Generation Rent, 99 English councils received a total of 67,026 complaints about housing in 2017/18. Those complaints resulted in just 3,043 Improvement Notices being served on landlords, meaning that only five per cent of those tenants were protected from eviction.

The campaign group added that 12,592 Category One hazards were recorded by 78 councils in 2017/18. These saw 2,545 Improvement Notices being served as a result, equating to 20 per cent of cases and leaving the remaining tenants with no protection from eviction. Dan Wilson Craw, the director of Generation Rent, said: “These figures demonstrate that despite powers and protections, tenants living in squalid homes are being let down by their councils. If landlords are free to evict tenants who complain about disrepair then we cannot expect the quality of private rented homes to improve.” Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the campaign group Generation Rent shows that English councils are failing to use their full powers to protect tenants.

Even when the most severe hazards, such as mould or broken stairs, is found in a rented home, tenants only get protection from eviction in one in every five cases. This is the latest example of councils being accused of failing to use all of their powers to clamp down on rogue landlords, following media investigations last year. These found that convicted landlords are continuing to operate by exploiting gaps in a law that is supposed to protect the most vulnerable tenants. Landlords can legally evict their tenants without giving a reason, this is called a Section 21 eviction. But section 21 evictions are invalid for six months after a council has served an Improvement Notice on the property. There must normally be a severe Category 1 hazard in the property for the council to take this action.

By Patrick Mooney, Editor