Revenge eviction if you ask for repairs

What is a revenge eviction?

A revenge or retaliatory eviction is when a private landlord takes steps to evict tenants who ask for repairs or complain about bad housing conditions.

Eviction is a legal process and can take several months. The process usually starts with a section 21 notice.

Some tenants are protected from this type of revenge eviction.

Who is at risk of revenge eviction?

You are more at risk if you're an assured shorthold tenant.

Your landlord can use the section 21 eviction process and won't usually need to give the court a reason for the eviction.

A section 21 notice could be invalid for a number of reasons.

For example, if your deposit is not protected or you have not been given a gas safety certificate within the last year.

Regulated (protected) tenants or assured tenants are at lower risk of a revenge eviction. With these types of tenancy, your landlord must prove to the court that there's a legal reason to evict you.

Lodgers have very little protection from eviction. If you live with your landlord, they can usually give you notice to leave for any reason.

All tenants have protection from illegal eviction.

Most private tenants can only be evicted by court bailiffs at the end of the legal process.

Read our illegal eviction guide if your landlord or agent is trying to force you out.

Protection from a revenge section 21 notice

You can ask the council's environmental health department to inspect your home if it's unsafe or in poor condition.

The council can:

You may be protected from revenge eviction depending what action the council take.

When and how long you're protected for

Your landlord can't usually give you a valid section 21 notice for the next 6 months if the council serves your landlord with either of the following:

  • improvement notice

  • emergency remedial action notice

But if the council take no action, or only serve a hazard awareness notice, your landlord can still give you a section 21 notice.

If you've already had a section 21 notice

Your section 21 notice usually becomes invalid if you got it after you wrote to your landlord about repairs or conditions and all of the following apply:

  • Your landlord failed to respond adequately to your complaint within 14 days.

  • You then complained to environmental health about the problem.

  • The council served an improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice on your landlord.

When you're still at risk of section 21 eviction

In the following situations, your landlord can still use the section 21 eviction process even if the council has served an improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice.

Council suspend the improvement notice

Sometimes the council give the landlord extra time to start work on the property.

For example, they might delay works in a student house if there is no immediate risk and the works can safely be done over the summer when the tenancy has ended.

If the council suspends enforcement of an improvement notice, your landlord can still give you a valid section 21 notice and take steps to evict you.

Landlord wants to sell the property

The landlord would need to show the court that the property is genuinely for sale on the open market. Sales to family members or a business partner don't count.

Landlord hasn't paid the mortgage

The mortgage lender might appoint a receiver or take steps to repossess the property from the landlord.

If you have to pay rent to a lender or receiver, they may be able to use the section 21 process so they can sell the property once it's empty.

If your landlord starts eviction procedures

There are 2 different eviction procedures that can be used to evict assured shorthold tenants through the courts:

  • section 21 eviction

  • section 8 eviction

Section 21 eviction

You must tell the court if you think you have a defence to a section 21 eviction.

Don't rely on the court to spot that you're protected from a revenge eviction.

There are also other reasons a section 21 notice can be invalid even if you're not protected from revenge eviction.

Section 8 eviction

This procedure is not usually described as a revenge eviction.

Your landlord usually needs to prove you've done something wrong to get a possession order. For example, you have rent arrears.

You may still be able to challenge a section 8 eviction for other reasons.

It is illegal eviction if your landlord tries to evict you without a court order.

Last updated: 10 June 2022

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