For those that came here for the quick answer and/or can’t stomach enduring my meandering dribble, the answer is, “no, your landlord can’t evict you because you asked for repairs”
There’s no such grounds for eviction.
However, it’s entirely possible that a landlord is motivated to legally terminate a tenancy earlier than anticipated because a complaint regarding a repair was made. However, even in that case, landlords (in England) may not be able to repossess their property even if they try and legally terminate the tenancy early after an official request to make a repair has been made.
Let’s go through all the scenarios to help determine your position…
I’ve been emailed the question a couple of times in the last month or so, by tenants that claim their landlords are evicting them because they complained about repairs.
Coincidentally, I’ve also read a few articles on the issue recently. Apparently there’s a surge in landlords evicting tenants soon after they complain about living conditions and request for repairs. The recent phenomenon has been given the name “revenge eviction”
But I think the entire issue has been slightly distorted and misrepresented…
An article titled “‘Revenge evictions’ soaring warns charity” over at localgov.co.uk says the following:
People who complain about housing conditions are facing ‘revenge evictions’ according to new figures released by Shelter.
The charity said there has been a ‘massive’ rise in the number of tenants facing eviction after asking their landlord for housing repairs.
Meh! Misleading, in my opinion.
Firstly, a landlord CANNOT legally “evict” a tenant for complaining about repairs.
I believe the confusion is circulating because no one seems to be addressing the distinction between an ‘eviction’, an ‘illegal eviction’ and a ‘no-fault repossession’, it all just seems to be bundled into one big fat eviction process.
The fact is, it’s a criminal offence for any landlord to evict a tenant without a court order. Moreover, there are no grounds for eviction based on “complaining about living conditions/repairs” or similarly, for being an uppity little shit-bag that complains about every God damn thing. So the process of even starting an eviction for a disrepair issues is a non-starter.
To make it clear: it’s illegal for landlords to unlawfully remove tenants, which includes dragging a tenant out onto the streets by the roots of their weave because they requested a leaking tap to be repaired.
I’m not sure how everything got so royally confused, but let’s clear this mess up by going over the three scenarios when a landlord tries to remove their tenants.
A landlord can only start a valid eviction process if they have legal grounds to do so.
Many people believe that serving an ‘Eviction notice, Section 8’ is “evicting a tenant”, it’s not. That’s only the first step, and it’s only a notice of intent. As said, only a court can legally evict a tenant, whatever happens before is just premature ejaculation before the main course.
There are several grounds for eviction, one of the most common being based on rent arrears. Here’s a list of grounds for eviction and how to evict a tenant – again, there is NOT a ground for complaining about a repair.
Being kicked out
This is what I suspect is happening in the scenarios where tenants are legitimately experiencing a so-called ‘revenge eviction’; tenants are being unlawfully vacated when they complain about repairs, which the landlord simply can’t be bothered to attend to (for whatever reason).
So when is a tenant being ‘kicked out’? When the landlord has NO grounds for eviction, but has forced/demanded their tenant to vacate the premises early and/or without serving the proper notices.
Tenants aren’t usually “physically” forced out. In reality, tenants are usually told to leave, and that’s when they’re scared and unsure, and buckle under the pressure, causing them to slip out the door like helpless, futile lemmings. Little do they know, the law is on their side, and forbid landlords to enforce such practices.
Let me repeat, this is not a proper “eviction”, and definitely not legal.
You should only vacate if the tenancy has been properly terminated.
This is when a landlord wants to repossess their property by serving a Section 21 notice. This is NOT an eviction or illegal practice. It’s is a notice that basically informs the tenant, “I don’t want you to live in my property after the agreed upon end date has expired. Restore the property in the same condition I gave it to you in, and kindly vacate yourself!”
I think we can all agree, it should be the landlord’s God given right to take back his/her property when the fixed dates have expired and the appropriate notice(s) have been served.
Again, this is not an illegal eviction.
Moreover, since October 2015, extra measures have been put in place for tenants in England, which prevents landlords from being able to repossess their property via Section 21 notice if their tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord regarding any maintenance/repair issue which is not dealt with correctly. This legislation applies to new tenancies in England that started on or after October 2015.
However, sending a written complaint alone is not enough to prevent a valid possession, there is a proper procedure that needs to be followed by both landlord and tenant. You can find out more details over at the new 2015 Section 21 regulations blog post.
“Revenge Eviction”, really?
I have no doubt in my mind that some landlords do unfairly “kick out” tenants because they demand repairs, but it doesn’t make financial sense to do so in most cases. That’s why I’m not convinced the problem is as widespread as it’s made out to be, and why I believe the situation is largely polluted with baseless accusations. I could be wrong. However…
If a landlord is prepared to end a tenancy because their tenant requested a repair, it’s most likely an expensive repair, because replacing tenants isn’t always cheap (e.g. cost of acquisition and the cost of vacant period), and so it would cost less to attend to the average repair job.
If we assume it’s a rather costly repair, you can then assume that’s it going to be something noticeable, which the replacement tenants will also most likely complain about anyways, so ‘revenge evictions’ doesn’t stack up whichever way you look at it.
I doubt that’s an equation most landlords would neglect, so the entire claim seems artificially bloated to me.
Are you being unlawfully evicted?
If your landlord turns around one day and says, “get outta ma’ property by the end of the week”, then you absolutely have no legal obligation to do so, and so you shouldn’t.
Yes, even if you’re the most annoying tenant on the planet that complains about every little bullshit thing. Your landlord stills needs to follow the proper procedures, whether that be an eviction (assuming he has the grounds to do so) or repossession of property (assuming the tenancy end date is approaching or passed), and in both cases, you’re entitled to a mandatory notice period.
So that’s the first important fact to note, tenants have buckets of rights.
If your landlord threatens to evict you, it doesn’t mean he actually has legal grounds to do so. He can’t just do it on a whim, so seek legal advice if you’re unsure whether or not your landlord has a case.
Do NOT just vacate the property without knowing your rights.
In the event that you are being evicted, the landlord should notify you on which grounds, and also give you appropriate time to vacate.
Common sense usually prevails here. If you’ve fallen into a couple of months’ worth of arrears, then you should undeniable recognise that you’re a rent dodging penis, and you have breached the terms of the tenancy which enables the landlord to begin the eviction process. However, if you simply notified the landlord that the boiler needs repairing, then you should recognise you’re not breaching any grounds for eviction, and you haven’t given the landlord any reason to ‘revenge evict’ you.
Lastly, if your landlord is forcing you to vacate without good legal standing, you should contact your tenancy relations officer at your local authority, who will then assess the situation and decide whether or not to prosecute your landlord. For any additional legal advice, as always, I recommend contacting your local Citizens Advice.
I want to end with one final point. I know moving is a pain, especially when you’re settled into a neighbourhood where your children play nice and molest the other local children. So the fight for remaining in the property may seem worth it. However, you need to also consider whether you actually want to continue working with a landlord that refuses to make repairs and provide you with suitable living conditions. I know I wouldn’t.
If you get to this bitter stage with your landlord, the relationship is doomed anyhow. So sometimes it’s actually a blessing in disguise when a landlord is willing to unlawfully evict a tenant, because it allows the opportunity for breaking a tenancy with a shitty landlord without any penalties. And trust me, you don’t want to tango with a dodgy landlord any longer than absolutely necessary.
Disclaimer: I'm just a simple landlord blogger; I'm not qualified to give legal or financial advice. Any information I share is my opinion based on my personal experiences as an active landlord, and should never be contrued as legal or professional advice. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.