Changes to tenancy rules proposed by the UK Government could leave private tenants at increased risk of so-called “revenge evictions”, Citizens Advice has warned.
The charity says it wants to see an end to section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notices, which have been blamed for a culture of revenge evictions – where tenants are unfairly removed from their homes after complaining about, or requesting repairs.
Citizens Advice says the reforms being considered by the UK Government include a six-month break clause, which would allow landlords to evict tenants who have paid their rent and not broken any of the terms of their contract.
A public consultation on the proposed changes and scrapping section 21 ended last weekend. In response to the consultation, Citizens Advice warns that a loophole in the plans could lead to section 21 “by the backdoor.”
The proposals would also allow landlords to evict tenants if they have just one month of rent arrears at the time of a possession hearing in court. Currently it’s two months of arrears.
Citizens Advice says this would affect people who have even small and short-term rent arrears, leading to further and more serious problems with debt.
Research by the charity found that 57% of tenants who have received section 21 eviction notices had made a complaint or requested repairs in the six months leading up to receiving the eviction notice.
The charity helped 57,854 people with problems connected to the private rental sector in the last year.
Of these, 24% were disabled or had a long-term medical condition, 25% suffered with mental health problems, and 61% were women.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “Tenants in private rented accommodation come from all walks of life. They need to feel secure in their homes.
“Like anyone else, they want to put down roots, give their children a consistent education and get on with their careers, without the constant stress of wondering when they might be forced to look for a new place to live.
“We’re fully behind the government’s plan to end to section 21. At the same time, we’re deeply concerned that some of the proposals to scrap it contain loopholes.
“This risks the unintended consequence that tenants who complain about disrepair, or struggle to make ends meet, remain just as vulnerable to losing their home at short notice.”