Revenge eviction if you ask for repairs

If you rent privately you could be protected from eviction if you complain to your landlord about repairs or poor conditions.

What is a revenge eviction?

A revenge or retaliatory eviction is when a landlord tries to evict you after you report repairs or complain about conditions in your home.

This usually affects private tenants with an assured shorthold tenancy as it’s easier for landlords to take steps to evict them.

Assured and pre-1989 regulated tenants

You already have protection from a revenge eviction if you have an:

Your landlord has to prove in court that there’s a legal reason to evict you.

Protection for assured shorthold tenants

If you have an assured shorthold tenancy signed or renewed after 1 October 2015, you have some protection against revenge eviction.

If you receive a section 21 notice after you complain

A court will refuse to order your eviction if all of these apply:

  • you complained to your landlord or letting agent in writing
  • you complained to the local council because your landlord didn't take steps to fix the problem
  • the council sent your landlord a notice telling them to make improvements or saying it will do emergency work

A section 21 notice served between the time of your written complaint and the council issuing an improvement or emergency work notice will also be treated as invalid.

You may also be protected if you first complained about the repairs to the council because you didn't have contact details for your landlord.

If you receive a section 21 notice after council send notice to your landlord

A section 21 notice sent in the 6 months after your landlord received an improvement notice or an emergency work notice will be invalid even if you did not write to complain to your landlord first.

When the law doesn’t protect you

You won’t be protected from a revenge eviction if you:

  • only complained verbally and your landlord serves a section 21 notice before you complained in writing
  • complain to the council but it takes no action or serves your landlord with a hazard awareness notice or prohibition notice
  • the council suspends its improvement or emergency work notice and the landlord then serves a section 21 notice

You also won’t be protected if your landlord can prove to the court that:

  • you caused the problem you're complaining about
  • they've genuinely put the property up for sale – sales to friends, family or business partners don’t count
  • the property has been repossessed by the landlord's mortgage lender and the property will be sold with vacant possession (this will not apply if your tenancy started before your landlord took out the mortgage)

There is no protection against a revenge eviction if your landlord uses the section 8 court procedure for eviction but you may be able to challenge it for other reasons.

Assured shorthold tenancies starting before 1 October 2015

If your tenancy started before 1 October 2015 and hasn’t been renewed since, you won’t be protected from eviction after you complain about repairs. Your landlord must still follow the correct process to evict you.

Find out more about the section 21 eviction process.

Still need advice?

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone

Last updated 16 Nov 2017 | © Shelter

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