Is this the end to 'Retaliatory Evictions' ?

Is this the end to 'Retaliatory Evictions' ?

Retailiatory Evictions?

Is this the end to 'Retaliatory Evictions' ?

Summarised from the Painsmith Landlord and Tenant Blog:  PAINSMITH

Deregulation Act and Retaliatory Evictions

One recent change in regulation seems to have been missed recently but may turn out to be the most significant ... 

'Section 33' is titled within the Act as “Preventing retaliatory evictions” and this section will come into force on 1st October 2015.

So what does it mean for landlords and agents?

In simple terms it is about ensuring let property is kept adequately repaired and maintained in compliance with section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985. 

When a Complaint is Received

 Whenever a Landlord or Agent receives a complaint in writing from a tenant regarding the condition of the property you must within 14 days give an “adequate” response in writing and in default a section 21 notice cannot be served.

Whilst it refers to the complaint being in writing given there will inevitably be judicial consideration of these regulations, Painsmith suggest that you ensure all complaints, no matter how minor, are clearly logged on your system and responded to. Failure to do so may mean that any Section 21 (From 6A) served may not be valid.

An “adequate” response under the Act should provide an explanation as to what action the landlord is taking and the proposed timescales.

Painsmith consider that Landlords and Agents will need to show they are being pro-active in trying to resolve complaints and so if any doubt, they mus ensure a 'competent person' inspects - no matter how trivial the problem may initially appear.

The Adequate Response

The response must set out the timescales in which you intend to undertake any remedial action. In effect it will be a report as to what was found, what you are going to do and when - hence many firms are likely to develop a standard pro forma.

 The section also provides that if the tenant is unhappy with your response he can complain to the local authority who may then serve a notice requiring works to be undertaken. If such notice is served then a valid section 21 notice may not be served for 6 months from the date of that notice.

 All the provisions provide that section 21 notices cannot be served after the actual complaint either by the tenant or service of the notice by the local authority. Arguably this does not effect earlier section 21 notices or situations where the tenant has complained to the local authority but they have not inspected either by the time of the service of the notice or the court proceedings.

Are there any exceptions for Private Landlords ?

For private landlords there are limited safeguards and exceptions. These include:

a.  If it can be shown that the tenant has been the cause of the poor condition either from positively damaging the property or omission.

b.  If it can be genuinely shown the property is on the market for sale.

It is vital therefore that our Tenant Find Landlords are look at their processes.  You will need to ensure it is 100% clear as how and to whom complaints of disrepair should be addressed and that your processes for dealing are clear. 

Painsmith are keen to point out that for the moment, the actual application of these regulations will come down to judicial interpretation and so for the time being there are many unanswered questions.