Landlords in the private rental sector will be watching closely the progress of Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather’s private member’s bill to ban retaliatory evictions.
The bill follows claims by housing charity Shelter that there is a crisis in the sector because landlords have been evicting tenants who complain about the standards of their property.
Launching her bill, Teather said: ‘All too often tenants out with things like damp, dangerous electrical fittings and mould because they are too scared to complain.’
There was a lot of media coverage of the tenants’ side of the story this summer but little of the response from organisations representing landlords.
The National Landlords Association pointed out that simply serving a Section 21 notice of possession should not be classed as a revenge eviction. NLA chief executive Richard Lambert blogged: ‘There are many reasons a landlord would need or want to serve one, and so long as they do it the right way, it is their right to do so for whatever reason they think fit.’
He pointed out that the average tenancy lasts over two and a half years and it is tenants, not landlords, who terminate most agreements. Where a landlord does seek possession, thecause is most often rent arrears.
Lambert also suggested that if Shelter’s figures are correctly that there are 7,600 renters at risk of eviction, this is 0.19% of renters in England, and hardly a crisis.
However, he supports moves to force out bad landlords who ignore legal requirements to maintain their property. His idea that councils should receive a proportion of prosecution fines to incentivise action against rogue landlords is, I think, a good one.
The government reshuffle brought a new housing minister into office, Brandon Lewis, who told the NLA that the government was ‘not yet ready’ to declare a view on Teather’s bill.
Landlords and tenants will be watching with interest this autumn. At SJ Collections we have long experience of helping landlords who find themselves embarking on the expensive process of seeking possession.