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Retaliatory evictions

This information only applies to England.
Retaliatory or 'revenge' evictions occur when a landlord tries to evict a tenant who has asked for repairs or complained about the condition of their home. For assured shorthold tenancies (ASTs) that started or were renewed on or after 1 October 2015, a tenant cannot be evicted, unless their landlord proves they're at fault, eg because they didn't pay the rent.
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The rules protecting tenants against retaliatory evictions only apply to ASTs that started on or after 1 October 2015.

When do the rules apply?

The rules apply if the tenant:

  • complained to their landlord in writing (eg by letter or email);
  • complained about repairs or the condition of their home;
  • received a Section 21 notice from their landlord in response; and
  • complained to their local council because their landlord didn't take steps to fix the problem. The council must have sent the landlord a notice telling them to make improvements.

The rules may also apply if the tenant first complained to the council because they didn't have their landlord's postal or email address.

Hazard notices

Once the council serves the landlord with an improvement notice or notice requiring emergency remedial action, the landlord's right to serve a Section 21 notice will be suspended for 6 months. If the notice is served before the court hearing, the landlord's case will fail and the court won't order the tenant to leave. If the council doesn't serve an improvement notice on the landlord before the court hearing, the court can make an order for the tenant to leave.

Improvement notice

If the landlord receives an improvement notice from the local council, then it means that there is a problem at the property that is serious enough to be regarded as a Category 1 or 2 hazard. The most dangerous hazards are Category 1 hazards and include things like leaky roofs and exposed wiring. Less dangerous hazards are Category 2 hazards and include things like dampness.

Notice requiring emergency remedial action

This means that the council can arrange for works to be undertaken to remove the risk of harm.

When do the rules not apply?

The rules do not apply if:

  • the tenant complained verbally
  • the landlord served a Section 21 notice upon the tenant before the tenant complained in writing
  • the council takes no action upon receiving the complaint, or serves the landlord with a hazard notice
  • the tenant has caused the problem they're complaining about
  • the landlord uses the Section 8 procedure for eviction, eg if the tenant hasn't paid the rent
  • the landlord has put the property up for sale, or
  • the property has been repossessed by the landlord's lender

Different rules apply to protect lodgers and other excluded occupiers. The landlord should give reasonable notice to leave (verbal or written) and the occupier must leave before the notice period ends.

There is no special protection preventing a landlord from evicting a tenant if they complain about repairs. Rules that protect tenants from retaliatory eviction won't apply, unless the tenant starts a new tenancy, or signs a renewal contract.

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