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50/50 chance of tenant complaints resulting in eviction

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Tenants who complain about damp and mould in their properties have a one in two chance of being issued with an eviction notice within six months, research reveals.

Around 141,000 private renters are estimated to have been the victims of ‘revenge eviction’ even though laws attempting to stop this practice were introduced in 2015.

According to research from charity Citizens Advice, complaining dramatically increases a renter’s chance of getting an eviction notice compared to those who don’t complain.

In one case seen, a couple with two children moved into a house but went to the council to complain about a leak which was causing the husband’s health to deteriorate. A day before an environmental health inspection was due to take place, the couple were issued with a section 21 eviction notice.

Last year, it helped 62,000 private renters, with repairs and maintenance the single biggest issue with 13,000 problems.

Of those who had received a Section. 21 ‘no-fault eviction’ notice, the charity said renters were twice as likely to have complained to their landlord, five times more likely to have gone to their local authority and eight times more likely to have complained to a redress scheme.

As such, it argues the figures prove that the 2015 laws designed to prevent those in the private rented sector from being evicted after raising a complaint, have failed to work.

With 4.7 million households, including 1.7 million families with dependent children living in private rented accommodation, Citizens Advice wants to see laws on tenant security strengthened.

The government is currently consulting on introducing minimum three-year tenancies in the private rented sector, and the charity wants to see these written into law. It also wants a limit on rent rises, a no break clause at six months and to allow tenants to leave early if the landlord doesn’t uphold legal responsibilities.

‘Eviction shouldn’t carry the same odds as the toss of a coin’

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The chance of a family being evicted from their home for complaining about a problem shouldn’t carry the same odds as the toss of a coin.

“Those living in substandard properties must have greater protection against eviction when they complain.

“Well-intentioned laws created to put an end to revenge evictions haven’t worked, and a new fix is needed.

“While government plans for a minimum three-year tenancy is a step in the right direction, these changes must be strong enough to genuinely prevent revenge evictions once and for all.”

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