Estimate by Citizens Advice puts figure at 141,000 tenants since 2015

Nearly half of all tenants who make a formal complaint about their housing suffer a “revenge eviction” by private landlords, according to research by Citizens Advice.

It estimated that 141,000 tenants have been subject to “complain and you’re out” evictions since 2015.

The evictions are possible because section 21 notices under the 1988 Housing Act allow landlords to force out tenants on a no-fault basis.

Citizens Advice found that tenants who had received a section 21 notice were twice as likely to have complained to their landlord – and eight times more likely to have complained to an official redress scheme.

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “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.

“There are serious question marks over the existence of a power that allows landlords to unilaterally evict tenants without reason.”

The Citizens Advice research came hours after a separate coalition of campaign groups delivered a 50,000-signature petition to the government calling for a ban on unfair evictions.

The petition calls for the abolition of section 21 and comes days before the close of a government consultation on proposals to make private tenancies three years or longer.

The campaigners, a coalition that includes Generation Rent, the Acorn renters’ union and the London Renters Union, argue that even if the proposals are approved, tenants could still be evicted without a reason after the three years are up, or even sooner if their landlord wants to sell or move back in.

The campaigners released polling data showing that even Conservative voters are strongly in favour of rent controls and greater protections for tenants.

A Survation poll commissioned by Generation Rent found that 72% of respondents think landlords should not be allowed to raise rents faster than inflation and 59% agreed that tenants who pay their rent and take care of their home should have an automatic right to stay in it.

Among people who voted Conservative in 2017, support for limits on rent increases is, at 72%, the same level as the wider population, and 56% agree that blameless tenants should have their moving costs paid if evicted.

Generation Rent asked renters to share their experiences on Twitter using the hashtag #ventyourrent. Stories ranged from black mould and rent hikes, to revenge evictions in response to requests for repairs, aggressive behaviour from landlords and failure to fix dangerous gas leaks.

Some of the comments on Twitter include:

  • @shoutyspouty My Landlord has left me and my 2 kids in a damp mould filled flat, with leaking windows, the roof leaked for weeks, we had no floor in the bathroom for months, put the rent up twice, didn’t put our deposit in a T.D.S scheme, threatened to kick us out every 6 months
  • @smoulderstoat Given a s.21 notice for complaining about damp, black mould everywhere, the shower pouring through floor into the kitchen, and a sinkhole in the garden that nearly killed someone. Had to move miles away a few weeks before my daughter sat her GCSEs
  • @jessrowan Letting agent told us landlord was happy to extend our contract, but with 5% rent increase. We pushed back as existing rent already extortionate – landlord had no idea about 5%, didn’t want to increase rent and it was all a ploy by (well established) letting agent

Dan Wilson Craw, the director of Generation Rent, said: “Short-term tenancies, rent increases and unsafe conditions are disrupting the lives of millions of renters, many of whom are raising children or entering old age.

“The government has recognised that people can’t lead a stable life when their tenancy agreements only last 12 months at most. But its proposal for three-year tenancies with various get-out clauses still leaves the threat of evictions hanging over tenants who’ve done everything right.”

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