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Retaliatory eviction in the private rented sector

Published Tuesday, June 13, 2017

This Commons Library briefing paper explains the law in relation to retaliatory eviction of private tenants and evidence around the extent to which it occurs, before going on to explain reforms to the law. The paper covers the position in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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What is retaliatory eviction?

The phrase ‘retaliatory eviction’ is used to describe situations where private landlords, when faced with a request for repairs, serve their tenants with a notice in order to terminate the tenancy. Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 in England and Wales offers landlords a means of evicting assured shorthold tenants without having to prove fault on the part of the tenant.

How big a problem is it?

Views differ on the prevalence of retaliatory eviction between the representative bodies of landlords and tenants. Citizens Advice and Shelter actively campaigned for amendments to the law to protect tenants who request repairs and/or seek assistance from environmental health officers in the process. Landlord bodies, such as the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and the National Landlords Association (NLA), were strongly opposed to reforms although they agreed that tenants should be able to request repairs without fear of eviction.

Measures to protect tenants

Liberal Democrat, Sarah Teather MP, secured seventh place in the Private Members’ Bill Ballot on 12 June 2014. She subsequently presented the Tenancies (Reform) Bill 2014-15 on 2 July. The purpose of the Bill was "to protect tenants against retaliatory eviction." The Bill secured Government support but did not complete its Second Reading. 

On 5 February 2015 the Coalition Government published a policy statement setting out an intention to add clauses to the Deregulation Bill (now the Deregulation Act 2015) to “protect tenants against the practice of retaliatory eviction.”

The 2015 Act has given tenants of assured shorthold tenancies entered into on or after 1 October 2015 some limited protection from eviction when they have made a written complaint about repairs to their landlord. DCLG published guidance on the measures: Guidance note: Retaliatory Eviction and the Deregulation Act 2015.

Commons Briefing papers SN07015

Author: Wendy Wilson

Topics: Housing, Housing standards, Private rented housing

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