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Changes to the tenant eviction process

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The law surrounding part of the eviction process has recently changed, following Royal Assent of the Deregulation Bill.

Generally, landlords are able to recover possession of a property let on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy by issuing a Section 21 notice, without giving the tenant any reason for ending the tenancy agreement.

A "revenge eviction", as it's known in the media, is when a landlord ends a tenancy or submits a section 21 notice after a tenant has complained to the landlord about a matter relating to the rented property.

Those lobbying for the recent change in the law say there is evidence to suggest that in some cases landlords are taking too long to deal with property problems put forward by their tenants.

The new law, centres around the fact that landlords will now be unable to issue a section 21 notice if their tenant has previously complained (in writing) about the condition of the rental property and the landlord has failed to deal with the complaint properly and within a specific time period.

Going forward,when a tenant complains, in writing, to their landlord about the condition of their property, the landlord has 14 days to respond. If the landlord responds and then carries out the desired work, this will have no impact on their right to serve a Section 21 notice in the future.

However, if the repairs/improvements are not carried out or the landlord fails to respond to the tenant’s written complaint within 14 days, the tenant then has the right to complain to their local authority. The local authority then has to decide whether it wants to issue the landlord with a Relevant Notice – which requires the landlord to carry out the work/improvements on the rental property.

If the local authority does not issue a Relevant Notice, this does not affect the landlord’s right to issue a Section 21 notice.

On the other hand, if the local authority does not clearly decide whether to issue a Relevant Notice, tenants will be able to successfully defend a Section 21 notice, if served with one.

If the local authority does decide to issue a Relevant Notice, as well as having to carry out the repairs/improvements to the property, the landlord will not be able to serve a Section 21 notice for six months from that date.

A commencement order to bring the new law officially into force looks likely to be later this year.

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