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“Retaliatory eviction” a problem in UK

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by Elaine Frei
"Retaliatory eviction" a problem in UK

A new report from the Citizens Advice Bureau charges that many tenants in the UK are living in substandard housing because they are afraid to complain to their landlords for fear of being evicted. Up to one million homes, government figures show, do not meet decent homes standards. The problem, the report says, is that private landlords in the UK can evict tenants for any reason or no reason at all, even if they ask for needed repairs to be made to their dwellings. The practice is called “retaliatory eviction”, and the landlords justify it by citing Section 21 of the Housing Act of 1988.

Those at highest risk for continuing to live in substandard or unsafe conditions are those who have low incomes and cannot afford to pick up and move. The report cites examples of individuals who live in conditions that adversely affect their health but will not complain because their landlord has a history of evicting those who complain as well as those who have been evicted for reporting substandard conditions to their local council or to Environmental Health. In some cases, the report finds, the landlord will offer to let the tenants stay, but only if they agree to pay much higher rents.

The report points out that the problem of retaliatory eviction does not exist or is much reduced in some other regions of the world. In some European countries for example, tenants have more security for their tenancies, while Australia, New Zealand, and most US states have laws in place to prevent landlords from evicting their tenants for no good reason. Among the report’s recommendations are that tenants should have recourse to a judge who can overrule evictions citing Section 21, and that legal remedies be put in place to prevent landlords from raising rents to extraordinarily high levels after receiving a complaint from a tenant.

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News posted: June 13, 2007

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