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Thousands of tenants falling victim to revenge evictions each year, figures reveal; Even when a severe hazard - such as mould or broken stairs - is found in a rented home, tenants only get protection from eviction in 1 in every 5 cases.

Byline: Emma Munbodh

Just one in every 20 private renters who complain about poor conditions in their home qualify for protection from a revenge eviction, figures show.

Councils in England are failing to use powers they have to protect tenants, new data obtained by Generation Rent under the Freedom of Information Act suggests.

The figures come after a Citizen's Advice report found tenants who received a Section 21 "no-fault eviction" noticewere five times more likely to have gone to their local authority and eight times more likely to have complained to a redress scheme.

Even when a severe hazard - such as mould or broken stairs - is found in a rented home, tenants only get protection from eviction in one in every five cases.

The findings reinforce the need for the Government to stop tenants losing their homes when landlords do not have legitimate grounds for eviction.

It comes ahead of a new law that comes into force on Wednesday to enablerenters to sue negligent landlords.

Tenants who complain are 50% more likely to be evicted - the people being punished for a basic standard of living

Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act allows landlords to end tenancies outside of fixed terms without needing a reason.

Under the Deregulation Act 2015, Section 21 evictions are invalid for six months when the council has served an improvement notice on the property. There must normally be a severe "Category 1" hazard in the property for the council to take this action.

Generation Rent made Freedom of Information requests to 102 councils covering two-thirds of England's private renter population.

The 99 councils that responded received a total of 67,026 complaints about housing in 2017-18, but served just 3,043 improvement notices on landlords. That means just 5% of people who complained ended up being protected from eviction.

The 78 councils that recorded the Category 1 hazards, reported 12,592 such hazards in 2017-18.

Yet just 2,545 Improvement Notices were served as a result, equating to 21% of cases.

Many of these may have been resolved by informal dialogue between the council and the landlord, but a tenant would have still been exposed if the landlord decided to ignore the council and issued an eviction notice.

On Wednesday 20 March, the Homes (Fitness For Human Habitation) Act comes into force, giving tenants the ability to take negligent landlords to court rather than rely on their council.

9 ways landlords break the law - and it's costing renters hundreds extra

However, successful tenants will still not be protected from eviction without their council taking action.

Dan Wilson Craw, Director of Generation Rent, said: "These figures demonstrate that despite powers and protections, tenants living in squalid homes are being let down by their councils.

"If landlords are free to evict tenants who complain about disrepair then we cannot expect the quality of private rented homes to improve. The new Homes Act gives tenants with an unreliable council an alternative route to force landlords to fix problems, but they are still at risk of eviction.

"Tenants have a right to a safe home, but can only exercise it if the government stops landlords from evicting without needing a reason."

What you can and can't do to your home if you're renting

Cllr Louise Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Housing, Waltham Forest Council, added: "Many tenants don't report disrepair because they fear a retaliatory eviction, so the cases we deal with are only the tip of the iceberg.

"Although tenants are protected if the council serves the landlord with an improvement notice, this is too blunt a tool to rely on. In many cases an informal response is enough to encourage the landlord to take action, even though tenants could still face the threat of eviction. It would be easier to give tenants protection by abolishing Section 21, so that landlords who wanted tenants to move out would need a valid reason."

Tenants' rights explained

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A reports suggests councils aren't using their powers properly

Credit: AFP

Landlords don't legally need to provide a reason to issue a Section 21 notice

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Title Annotation:Money
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 18, 2019
Words:687
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