Retaliatory evictions, also known as revenge evictions, is a problem frequently encountered by assured shorthold tenants who have complained to their landlord or the local authority about the condition of the property they are letting. The landlord immediately reacts by serving a section 21 notice to regain possession of the property. This revenge eviction serves two purposes. The first motivation is to punish the tenant for complaining by forcing him out of his home. The second and crucial objective is to enable the landlord to avoid the need to carry out any works to repair the property.

Section 33 and 34 of the Deregulation Act 2015 introduced provisions to address this problem. Essentially a landlord may no longer serve a section 21 notice within six months of a local authority serving an improvement notice or a notice of emergency remedial action under the Housing Act 2004.

The provisions only apply to England and for tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015 and statutory periodic tenancies arising after that date from fixed-term tenancies granted earlier under section 41. From the 1st October 2018, the provisions will apply to all assured shorthold tenancies whenever they have been granted.

Section 33(1) of the Deregulation Act 2015 provides that –

  1. A section 21 notice cannot be given within 6months of service of a ‘relevant notice’ on the landlord
  2. A ‘relevant notice’ is a notice served by a local authority under the Housing Act 2004 pertaining to:
    1. Section 11 for improvements notices relating to category 1 hazards
    2. Section 12 for improvement notices relating to category 2 hazards or
    3. Section 40(7) for emergency remedial action

Section33 (2) provides that a section 21 notice is invalid where –

  1. The tenant complains in writing to the landlord about disrepair before a section 21 notice is given
  2. The landlord fails to respond properly to the tenant within 14 days
  3. The tenant complains to the local authority
  4. The local authority serve a ‘relevant notice’ on the landlord
  5. The section 21 notice was given before the service of the ‘relevant notice’

Section 33(6)-(7) sets out that –

  1. The court must strike out possession proceedings where the notice is invalid, BUT
  2. if an order is made before the local authority notice is served, this does not provide a ground for setting the order aside

Retaliatory eviction provisions do not apply in the following circumstances –

(Section 34 of the Deregulation Act 2015)

  1. If the condition of the dwelling or the common parts in which the dwelling is situated giving rise to authority’s notice is caused by the tenant’s failure to use the dwelling in a tenant-like manner;
  2. The landlord is a private registered provider of social housing;
  3. When the section 21 notice is given, the dwelling is genuinely on the market for sale. Section 34(2)-(5) detailed provisions intend to prevent the landlord from trying to rely on this exception where the proposed sale is not on the open market;
  4. The dwelling is subject to a mortgage under which the lender can exercise a power of sale and the lender requires possession to sell with vacant possession.