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Rogue Private Landlords and Housing Disrepair

Feb 10 2017

The life of tenant with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy ('AST') can be uncertain as the Tenancy itself can be ended quite easily and for a long time many rogue private Landlords have taken steps to evict tenants by serving the tenant with a section 21 Notice without having to justify why they are ending the Tenancy simply because the tenant has reported some form of disrepair or poor condition at their property to them. This is known as retaliatory eviction and up until recent years there was absolutely nothing tenants could do about it.

However, since October 2015, new law means that private Landlords can no longer serve a Section 21 Notice on a Tenant who has made a written complaint to the Landlord about the condition of the property and Landlord has failed to respond to the complaint within 14 days of receiving it, has served a Section 21 Notice in response to the complaint or if they have failed to provide an adequate response. If the Landlord's response is inadequate the tenant can complain to the Local Authority who must then carry out an inspection of the property. If the Local Authority serves an improvement notice or carries out emergency repairs in response to the tenant’s complaint any Section 21 notice already served on the tenant will be invalid, any possession proceedings that are in progress will be struck out by the Court and another Section 21 notice cannot be issued by the landlord for 6 months. 

But tenants must be aware that the new law won't help you if you have made verbal complaints or if your Landlord serves a Section 21 notice on you before you have made a complaint in writing, if you complain to the Council but they take no action or issue only a 'Hazard Notice' to your Landlord, if you caused the problem you are complaining about, if your Landlord has genuinely placed the property on the market for sale or if the property has been repossessed by your Landlord's mortgage company.

At the moment the law only applies to ASTs that began on or after 1st October 2015 but from 1st October 2018 it will apply to all ASTs no matter when they began and it will hopefully bring some peace of mind to Tenants who are fearful of being evicted if they report disrepair at their property.

When renting a residential property through an AST the Landlord is responsible for certain repairs to the property, including the structure and exterior of the property and any repairs which are needed because any issues with the structure and exterior of the Property have not been dealt with. The Landlord is also required to keep the equipment for the supply of gas, electricity and water in a safe and good working order, as well as, any other responsibilities which may be stated in the Tenancy Agreement. All Assured Shorthold Tenants should therefore not have to fear any consequences of simply asking their Landlord to complete any repairs to the Property when they are legally required to do so. 

The full affect of the new law is yet to be seen and some question whether it will work effectively but the important thing is that the law is now in place to provide some much needed protection for private tenants.

If you are having trouble with your private Landlord or if you have disrepair at your rented property that your Landlord is doing nothing about and you want some advice about what to do, contact us online or on 0208 437 0731 for some specialist advice from our experienced housing team.

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