The RLA claims that by supporting the bill, ministers are handing "nightmare tenants who bring misery to the lives of their neighbours and landlords alike, another weapon to prevent their removal". Making it more difficult to evict anti-social tenants, the RLA says, will make the good landlords think twice about investing in much needed new homes, leaving the market more open for crooked landlords who operate under the radar.
Commenting on the developments, RLA chairman, Alan Ward said: “Revenge evictions should not have any place in a today’s rental market and we would condemn strongly any landlord caught doing it.
“However, by backing a measure to tackle the minority of criminal landlords, ministers will be penalising the vast majority of good landlords by making it ever easier for nightmare tenants to hold up eviction proceedings and continue causing misery for communities.“We need a rational debate. Sadly today’s announcement is once again polarising the sector and giving a false impression that you can be on the side of the landlord or the tenant, but not both.”
The RLA is concerned that in supporting the bill, Communities Minister Stephen Williams failed to mention government statistics that showed only 9% of tenancies are ended by a landlord largely on the basis of rent not being paid or tenants committing anti-social behaviour.
The government's decision marks a sea change in its approach to private rented sector evictions. In 2011, the former Lib Dem communities minister Andrew Stunnell, said: “The ability to gain possession of their property is key to a landlord’s confidence in letting out that property in the first place, and in the current economic climate, we would not want to undermine that confidence.”
Richard Lambert, Chief Executive Officer at the National Landlords Association (NLA), echoed the views of the RLA. He said: “Retaliatory eviction, if and where it does happen, is an unacceptable and completely unprofessional response. Tenants should be able to raise issues with their landlords without the fear of losing their home.
“However, it should not be confused with using the no fault possession procedure to end a tenancy, which in the vast majority of cases is the final resort, not a response to a request for repairs or because landlords are out for revenge.
We don’t talk about any other service provider seeking revenge from their customers and there is no reason to suspect landlords are any different. “Sarah Teather’s private member’s bill is aimed at tackling a perception of the ‘worst case scenario’, which is not the experience of the majority of renters who rely on private housing.
"There is a lack of hard evidence to support a need for the changes proposed and as such the NLA is yet to be convinced that it is a fair or balanced approach to help end the issue of so-called ‘revenge evictions’.
“Courts are already at bursting point and unable to deal with the volume of housing issues we have and this will only add to that burden. Any substantial changes to the landlord’s ability to end a tenancy risks exacerbating the housing crisis by unnerving lenders, and will jeopardise much-needed investment in providing more homes for the future”.
Today's announcement has been welcomed by housing campaign groups including Generation Rent and Crisis.
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