The law on illegal ‘revenge evictions’ is not working, despite a new Act giving powers to local councils to step in.
Yesterday, the BBC said that Freedom of Information requests show that over half of local councils have not used powers conferred by the Deregulation Act which came into force in October 2015.
Other councils have not recorded information about so-called revenge or retaliatory convictions – where a landlord evicts a tenant who has complained about repair issues in their home.
There are also concerns that the law is simply too complicated and has little awareness among tenants.
The BBC report follows another new study on cold and damp in rental homes, and which claims that tenants still fear asking their landlords for improvements to their properties in case they are evicted.
The research, by Sheffield Hallam University, focused on two areas, Hackney in London, and Rotherham.
The study concludes: “The relationship between tenant and landlord was one characterised by fear on the part of tenants that any complaint may be countered by retaliatory action such as rent increases or eviction if they spoke out.
“Most tenants felt reluctant to make contact with their landlord and instead found ways to work around problems,” says the research.
“Keeping warm by routinely wearing coats inside the home, keeping blankets in living areas and spending extra time in bed or outside of the home were common practice, as was heating the home for very short periods in order to save money, rather than lobbying landlords for improvements.”
The research was funded by the Eaga Charitable Trust which combats fuel poverty. From 2018, it will be illegal to let a property with an EPC rating of under E.
In a statement the Department for Communities and Local Government said: “Retaliatory evictions are rare and Shelter have estimated that they affect just 2% of tenancies.
“However, we have given councils new powers under the Deregulation Act to stop revenge evictions and they should use them where necessary.”
A Local Government Association spokesman said stopping revenge evictions is a complex legal process: “Councils are working hard to tackle bad practice by rogue landlords to ensure they are dealt with robustly and effectively.
“However, not only are rogue evictions hard to prove, but a council may not know when an eviction notice is contested in court.”