CIEH calls for urgent action on revenge evictions

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has welcomed the new report from Citizens Advice on revenge evictions and called for an urgent review of legislation.

The new report, launched today, found that private renters who formally complain about issues such as damp and mould in their home have a 46 per cent chance of being issued an eviction notice within six months.

The report, Touch and go, also found that this has affected around 141,000 tenants since laws attempting to ban revenge evictions were introduced in 2015.

It comes as the government’s consultation on introducing minimum three-year tenancies in the private rented sector closes this Sunday.

CIEH worked with Citizens Advice on the new report to promote engagement with Environmental Health Professionals (EHPs) who are heavily involved in the safety and standards of housing in the private rented sector.

Previous legislation to address the issue has simply failed, with the report finding that only 10 per cent of EHPs reported a reduction in the number of retaliatory evictions since 2015.

In fact, three in four (75 per cent) EHPs experienced tenants receiving a no-fault eviction notice in the last year, following a complaint to Environmental Health about their housing. And nearly a quarter (23 per cent) reported this happening in the last month.

Tamara Sandoul, Policy Manager at CIEH, said:

“This report shines a light on the murky world of revenge evictions.

“It’s been nearly three years since the introduction of legislation designed to protect tenants from unfair evictions, yet it is still happening across the country.

“Environmental Health Professionals, who deal with this on a day to day basis, have their hands tied by poorly designed legislation that puts all formal enforcement action in the hands of the local authority, who are often unable to properly take the necessary action.

“A combination of limited resources, the numbers of properties requiring works to be done, and the timeframe and cost of taking formal action, means that many authorities use a risk-rating approach when deciding where resources should be channelled.

“This legislation must be reviewed as soon as possible in order to protect tenants who have a genuine complaint about the disrepair or the condition of their rented property.

“We strongly support the report’s recommendation to allow tenants more powers to leave a tenancy early if the landlord does not uphold their responsibilities. Rented housing should provide a safe and healthy environment for everyone, yet renters are obliged to continue paying rent even if the condition of the property is unsafe and the landlord is taking too long to rectify the situation. This leaves renters trapped.

“Revenge evictions simply cannot be allowed to continue and we urge the Government to take tangible steps to resolve these injustices as a priority.”