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Landlords’ disappointment at revenge evictions vote

The House of Lords’ passing of amendments combatting so-called retaliatory evictions – reported yesterday on Letting Agent Today – has been received with resigned consternation by the National Landlords Association. The measure, which now goes for a third reading in the Lords on March 4, is almost certain to become law in the spring.

The NLA accuses the government of using the Deregulation Bill (a wide-ranging bill currently being debated in parliament) “as a way of resurrecting the Tenancies (Reform) Bill which had previously failed to progress to a second reading in the House of Commons due to lack of support.”

This was the bill introduced by Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather which advocated theintroduction of a defence against Section 21 possession claims, on the basis of a failure to maintain or repair a property – the so-called revenge or retaliatory eviction.

“We have yet to see any credible evidence of a problem significant to justify the need for additional legislation and we strongly believe that the changes …. represent a politically timed reaction to fear and anecdote, rather than a confirmation of commonplace poor practice within private housing” says Chris Norris, NLA head of policy.

“At best this is will be a burdensome nuisance for the majority of good landlords. At worst it will further mask the actions of criminals who abuse their tenants, while regulators struggle to differentiate between those in genuine need and vexatious troublemakers.”

The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and other rural businesses, has expressed dismay at the result, saying it will not target bad landlords and instead impose burdens on thousands of responsible rural landlords.

“This is the definition of bad policy making. It imposes a poorly designed, burdensome new regulation as part of a law that is supposed to be about ‘deregulation’. By forcing through this law, ministers risk setting back significantly the opportunity for putting in place measures that will tackle the minority of bad landlords that we agree should be targeted with regulation” says CLA president Henry Robinson.

Shelter is welcoming the vote, with Campbell Robb, chief executive, saying that the government “has taken a stand for England’s nine million renters by proposing a change in the law to end revenge evictions…If this becomes law, hundreds of thousands of people will no longer face the appalling choice between living in a home that puts them or their children in danger, or risking eviction if they complain.”

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