On Friday, a bill that aims to prevent revenge evictions by private sector landlords gets its second reading in Parliament.
The Tenancies (Reform) Bill, introduced by Sarah Teather (Lib Dem MP for Brent Central), mainly focuses on protecting tenants against retaliatory evictions. This is when a landlord ends a tenancy because the tenant complained about the state of the property (the temerity!). 'No fault' evictions, when a landlord doesn't have to give a reason for ending the tenancy, are on the rise, and there's basically nothing a tenant can do about it.
Enter the aforementioned bill. If it becomes law as it currently stands (the bill has the support of the government so we assume it'll pass the House of Commons vote, but it still has to be scrutinised by a Commons committee, which could propose changes; plus the time for this Parliament is running out), landlords will not be able to serve a 'no fault' eviction notice on tenants within six months of being told to improve conditions by the council. 'No fault' (Section 21) eviction notices would be invalid if tenants can prove they made a complaint to the landlord or housing authority before the notice was served. Spurious complaints will not count, and tenants who don't "use the dwelling-house in a tenant-like manner" would forfeit the law's protection.
Shelter explains that local government supports the bill, because if more tenants can be encouraged to complain then councils will be able to more easily identify dodgy landlords and focus resources. Protecting tenants from eviction should also encourage people to give evidence during prosecutions. If a property is so awful that the tenant simply can't live there, they'll still have the right to move (but at their own pace rather than being hustled out) or in the worst cases the local authority will have to offer alternative accommodation.
It's a small step, but one at least in the right direction.
See also: Renting? Know Your Rights