Retaliatory Eviction

Retaliatory Eviction

The Legislation of retaliatory eviction only applies to assured shorthold tenancy agreements in England.

A revenge or retaliatory eviction is when a landlord tries to evict a tenant because they ask for repairs or complain about poor conditions.The Deregulation Act 2015 sets out the framework for “retaliatory evictions”.

A tenant can ask the council’s environmental health department to inspect the let property if it’s unsafe or in poor condition. If the local authority are satisfied that the property is in poor condition (or identify “hazards”) the local authority may serve a notice on the landlord under the Housing Act 2004 requiring work to be carried to the property to rectify the issues identified.

If a council serve a landlord (or person in control of, or managing the let property) with an improvement notice or remedial action notice (“relevant notice”), the landlord cannot serve the tenant with a section 21 notice within 6 months of receiving the improvement notice or remedial action notice [1]. However, this does not apply where the relevant notice has been revoked or quashed.

A landlord is also prohibited from serving a section 21 notice where before the section 21 notice was given, the tenant made a complaint in writing to the landlord regarding the condition and the landlord failed to provide a response within 14 days or failed to provide an adequate response.

The Deregulation Act 2015 does not confirm what would amount to “an adequate response” from the landlord or anyone acting on the landlords behalf. However, an adequate response should be a written response which sets out clearly the action the landlord will take in relation to the response and when such action will be taken i.e. confirming a date the issue raised will be inspected with a view or resolving the issue.

The other circumstance in which a section 21 notice would be invalid is where:

  • The tenant made a written complaint to the landlord (or anyone acting on the tenants behalf) and following the complaint the tenant was then served with a section 21 notice,
  • the tenant then made a complaint to the relevant local housing authority about the same, or substantially the same, subject matter as the complaint to the landlord,
  • the local authority served an improvement notice or remedial action notice on the landlord (or person acting on the landlords behalf) in in response to the complaint, and
  • if the section 21 notice was not given before the tenant’s complaint to the local housing authority, it was given before the service of the relevant notice.

Are there exemptions to retaliatory eviction?

There are exemptions to the above. A landlord may serve a section 21 notice even where the tenant has made a written complaint of poor conditions or the council has served a relevant notice on the landlord if:

  • Relevant notice is due to a breach by the tenant of the duty to use the property in a tenant-like manner or an express term of the tenancy to the same effect, 
  • The property is genuinely on the market for sale, 
  • the landlord is a private registered provider of social housing, or 
  • at the time the section 21 notice is given and the property is subject to a mortgage, the mortgagee requires possession of the dwelling-house for the purpose of disposing of it with vacant possession in exercise of that power.

Exemptions are set out in Section 34 of the Deregulation Act 2015.

The validity of a section 8 notice is unaffected by the Legislation on retaliatory eviction.

[1] Section 33(1) of the Deregulation Act 2015

 

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