Wigan tenants at risk of 'revenge evictions' from landlords, campaign group warns

Almost no tenants who complain to Wigan Council about bad housing conditions get protection against revenge evictions, figures reveal.

Monday, 25th March 2019, 1:15 pm
Updated Monday, 25th March 2019, 2:23 pm
Tenants risk eviction if councils dont impose improvement notices over complaints about living conditions

Housing campaign group Generation Rent has warned that local authorities are failing to use their full powers to protect renters.

Data obtained by Generation Rent through a Freedom of Information request shows Wigan Council received 285 complaints from renters claiming sub-standard conditions in the year to March 2018. But it only issued one improvement notice to landlords.

Current regulations allow landlords to evict tenants without a reason, which is known as a section 21 eviction. But these are invalid for six months if a council serves an improvement notice on the property.

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This is designed to stop so-called revenge evictions, which see landlords kick out tenants for complaining about living conditions.

A notice legally requires landlords to make safety repairs to their property, and if they don’t they can be fined or prosecuted. Councils normally only issue one if there is a severe hazard, such as mould or broken stairs.

Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent, said: “If landlords are free to evict tenants who complain about disrepair, then we cannot expect the quality of private rented homes to improve.

“The new Homes Act gives tenants with an unreliable council an alternative route to force landlords to fix problems, but they are still at risk of eviction.

“Tenants have a right to a safe home, but can only exercise it if the government stops landlords from evicting tenants without needing a reason.”

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, added: “The chance of a family being evicted from their home for complaining about a problem shouldn’t carry the same odds as the toss of a coin. Our research shows that well-intentioned laws created to put an end to revenge evictions have not worked, and a new fix is needed.”