For those that came here for the quick answer and/or can’t stomach enduring my meandering dribble, it’s “NO”, now get out of ‘ere. But for those that do…
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. Bit odd, because the answer seems so obvious to me.
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 treacherous act has been going by the name, “Revenge eviction” Cute. 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 technically (or legally) “evict” a tenant, let alone for complaining about repairs. Now there lies the problem, there doesn’t seem to be any distinction between a legal and illegal eviction, it all just seems to be bundled into one big fat eviction process. But as far as I’m concerned, if a tenant hasn’t been evicted legally, they haven’t actually been ‘evicted’ in the strict sense of the word, they’ve essentially been ‘kicked out’ like a cheap hooker that’s served her purpose.
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, consequently, that court order will never be granted. I wish there was a ground for it, but there isn’t. So if anyone claims they’re being “evicted” for complaining about repairs, they’re probably just being “kicked out” (which is illegal) and not actually evicted.
Secondly, tenants/charities are asking for new laws to be introduced to protect tenants from this massacre. But why? I don’t get it.
It’s already illegal for landlords to unlawfully ‘vacate’ tenants, which includes dragging a tenant out onto the streets by the root of their hair because they requested a leaking tap to be repaired. No ‘new’ laws need to be introduced to protect tenants from this tragically distorted situation. There’s already protection in place. Relax.
I’m not sure how everything got so royally confused, but I suspect much of it has to do with people classing the notions of being “kicked out”, “repossessed” and “evicted” as the same thing, despite there being massive and very relevant differences.
A tenant can only be evicted if a landlord has legal grounds to do so, and that’s ultimately up to the court to decide, and that’s why I don’t class ‘kicking a tenant out’ as eviction, it’s more like gorilla warfare tactics.
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 event.
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.
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 without serving the proper notices and/or without a court order.
Tenants aren’t usually “physically” forced out. In reality, tenants are usually told to leave, and that’s when they’re left 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 an “eviction”, and definitely not legal.
This is when a landlord wants to repossess their property by serving a Section 21 notice. This is NOT an eviction or illegal practice. This is a notice that basically says, “the tenancy can be legally terminated (e.g. the fixed dates have expired or due to expire), I don’t want you to live in my property much longer. Restore the property in the same condition I gave it to you in, and get the hell out!”
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. Of course, if a tenant complains about a leaking tap during the 11th month of a 1 year tenancy, and the landlord shortly after serves a Section 21 notice, then that’s also his God given right. That right shouldn’t be changed, because the reason for possession can be argued either way. It could just be coincidental, or unfortunately, it might just be because the landlord doesn’t want to throw money at repairing the problem. It’s difficult to prove what the case may be, so tampering with the system doesn’t make sense.
At the end of the day, if a landlord wants his property back when the dates expire, despite the circumstances, then the tenant should vacate. At this point, landlords don’t (and rightly shouldn’t) need a justifiable reason, because it’s their freaking property.
Again, this is not an eviction.
“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 big as it’s made out to be, and why I believe the situation is largely polluted with baseless accusations. Although, I could be wrong. However…
If a landlord is prepared to ‘evict’ a tenant because they demand repairs, 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. Assuming 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 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 procedure, 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 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 leave if you don’t want to. But 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 note 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 conditions, and you haven’t given the landlord any reason to ‘revenge evict’ you.
But bear in mind, as already covered, the landlord can repossess his property if the tenancy is coming to an end, or if it has already rolled into a periodic tenancy. As said, timing might be coincidental, almost too coincidental, but that’s irrelevant. You will be required to vacate as long as you are given appropriate notice.
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.
Update (2nd October 2015) – I just wanted to quickly update this post, as there has been some relevant changes to prevent the so-called “revenge evictions” as of October 2015. A new law has come into play as part of the new Section 21 legislation, which will prevent landlords from serving repossession notices if a tenant has made a written complaint to the landlord regarding any maintenance/repair issue and the issue is not dealt with correctly. This will only apply to new tenancies in England that started on or after October 2015. You can find out more details over at the new 2015 Section 21 regulations blog post.