Are you endangered by the threat of revenge eviction? Then help change the law

141020evictions

A few months ago, Mrs Mike – who is the named tenant of VP Towers – received a communication from our landlord (a housing association).

It was notification that the HA had applied to the Welsh Assembly to set a ‘fair rent’ at about £9 per week more than the then-current level.

Depending on your own circumstances, £9 per week may not seem altogether high but for Mrs Mike, who considers herself to have suffered undue neglect from her landlord (remember the flood last year?), it was the last straw. The notification letter stated that she could appeal against the increase, so she did.

You may be surprised, dear reader, to find that I was reluctant to support her. I feared the possibility of a revenge attack by our landlords, resulting in us ending up on the street.

I was wrong – but the issue took a few months to resolve. At first, the Assembly agreed with the housing association that our rent should be increased and, following representations by Mrs Mike, by more than the HA had originally requested. The landlord promised that it would stick to the original figure but Mrs Mike wasn’t having any of it and took the case to a tribunal, pointing out that our landlord wasn’t comparing our rent with similar houses in the local area (as is necessary) and that calls for repairs were habitually ignored or dismissed by servicers who are based almost 100 miles away.

Now our rent is cheaper – yes, cheaper – than it was before, and it seems our landlord is going to abide by the decision.

But this is a rare case, according to homelessness charity Shelter – and it seems we are safe only because we rent from a social landlord.

Current laws mean it is entirely legal for any private landlord to evict tenants, Shelter says, simply for speaking up about bad conditions going unacknowledged and unrepaired, as Mrs Mike has.

The situation affects no less than nine million UK citizens – and last year, 200,000 of them were thrown out of their homes in what the charity has described as ‘revenge’ evictions.

It seems some landlords don’t like to be embarrassed when their neglect comes out into the public domain.

This means that, according to Shelter, one in 12 private renters have avoided asking for repairs in case they are evicted.

But on November 28 MPs have the chance to end revenge eviction, the charity says.

“They’ll be debating a small change to the law: to stop landlords issuing an eviction notice when the tenant has made a legitimate complaint about conditions.

“For the Bill to pass, enough MPs need to attend the debate and the majority need to vote in favour. You can see more about how the Bill will become law here.

“You can tell your MP to save the date – to attend Parliament on 28 November and vote to end revenge evictions.

“Normally, MPs go back home on a Thursday to do constituency work on a Friday. This time, we need them to stay in Westminster until Friday morning, so they can vote to change the lives of the thousands of renters they represent.”

Shelter has provided a handy system to help you email your MP and ask them to improve the lives of nine million UK citizens. Here it is:

Email your MP and ask them to stay in parliament on Friday 28 November.

In the run-up to a general election, voters will be watching their MPs very carefully. Do they really represent you? November 28 will be a test of their good intentions. If they don’t stay and vote, you’ll know what to do with them next May. But they need to know what you want them to do.

It’s up to you.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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6 thoughts on “Are you endangered by the threat of revenge eviction? Then help change the law

  1. R Jim Edge

    Do you not think the debate was deliberately and strategically put up to avoid MPs being present, knowing full well many would be heading to constituancies to pretend they actually represent us.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It’s on the Shelter England website; depends whether the law is already different in Scotland. I don’t think it is but I’m prepared to be corrected if anyone knows better and can provide a reference.

  2. Norma Roberts

    One is not always safe even as a housing association tenant Mike. In 2011 the flats for the over 55s where I live, were refurbished: rewired, new kitchen, bathroom etc. Apart from those with severe medical conditions we all remained in the flats during the refurb.

    My refurb went very badly: They turned up 2 days earlier than planned, before I was prepared, my lounge carpet was not covered and was ruined, they took my rolled up bedroom carpet away with the old bathroom fitments, after they fitted the new bathroom the floor collapsed and I fell through it;everything had to be ripped out and a new floor laid, my boiler did not work for 2 weeks despite workmen coming everyday to try and fix it, one day I returned from my neighbour’s and water was gushing out of 2 radiators. There were many, many more things went wrong but I will not bore you any further.

    Suffice to say I was very angry about all this, especially as neither the landlord, or the contractors seemed to care at all, in fact some workmen lied about things so they appeared to have done nothing wrong.

    I did not call people names, I did not swear or threaten anyone, I did stick up for myself, was somewhat sarcastic, and, when nothing seemed to be getting done to put things right, I contacted my local councillor. My meeting with the councillor was hijacked by officials from the housing association and the contractor, all in all there were 15 people in my little flat that day! I felt intimidated, but I stood my ground, and stated my case firmly and calmly, telling the councillor what had gone wrong, and how people had lied to cover their tracks.

    About two weeks later I received a letter stating that someone had complained that I had been abusive towards them during the refurb, and that the Housing Association took these matters very seriously and that I risked being evicted. I was not told who had complained or what I was supposed to have said. I had never had anything like this happen to me before, and I’ll admit I was scared.

    I eventually got everything sorted, and nothing came of the accusation, but even now I am apprehensive about contacting them when something goes wrong. I am always in credit with my rent, keep my home clean and tidy, and I am no trouble to anyone – it seems so unfair to me!

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