A long and technical debate in the House of Lords last evening ended with amendments to the Deregulation Bill being passed which are likely to lead to the outlawing of so-called retaliatory evictions.
Although the amended legislation has to be ratified by the Commons and then receive the Royal Assent, in essence the Lords agreed that landlords would be prevented from evicting a tenant for no reason within six months of receiving an improvement or hazard awareness notice.
It is likely that when a complaint alleging a revenge eviction is received relating to a private rented property, the local authority for the area will contact the landlord to resolve the problem, only serving a statutory notice if the landlord is clearly at fault and there is a serious issue with the property.
However, in practice many landlord bodies believe this will lead to landlords being deterred from issuing eviction notices even for legitimate purposes, and creates the possibility of tenants ‘playing the repair rule’ and submitting multiple requests for work to be done in order to avoid eviction even if there are circumstances where they are in rent arrears.
Lord Ahmed, for the government, said that the amendments which went on to be agreed would benefit both landlords and tenants, and covered four points.
Firstly they would offer protection against retaliatory eviction, secondly that all evicted tenants would receive at least two months’ notice before having to move out, thirdly that legitimate evictions should continue to take place smoothly, and finally that a Section 21 procedure could not go ahead if certain basic requirements had not been fulfilled by landlords (for example, the provision of an EPC or annual gas certificate).
The debate also covered amendments to amendments - a typical procedure at the Report Stage of a Bill.
One of these additional amendments was to give a landlord more than 14 days to respond to a complaint by a tenant, another to create a greater responsibility for the local authority covering the landlord’s property to ensure the landlord responds to any complaint.
However, after a two hour debate these ‘amendments to amendments’ were withdrawn.