Opinion: The fallacy of ‘revenge evictions’
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
Key players move to position private rented sector as tenure of choice to solve housing crisis
By Alan Ward, chairman, Residential Landlords Association
The debate around the private rented sector can far too often generate more heat than light.
The recent focus on so-called retaliatory evictions is a prime example of this.
Landlords, so we’re told, are too quick to evict their tenants if they ask for repairs to their homes.
Indeed, Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather said she was so concerned about the problem that she announced last month she was to introduce a private member’s bill to protect tenants who are too scared to complain about their homes for fear of being thrown out.
But are landlords really as trigger-happy as some would have it?
New research by the Residential Landlords Association suggests quite the opposite.
Our survey of landlords shows that the vast majority are reluctant to evict tenants - and when they do it’s for significant rent arrears or anti-social behaviour.
Of more than 1,760 landlords who took part in our survey, around 56% had had to evict tenants from their properties. Almost 90% reported that they had carried out evictions for rent arrears, with another 43% for anti-social behaviour, nearly 40% for damage to the property and 20% for drug-related activity. Just under 30% wanted to regain possession of the property, for example because they needed to sell it for personal reasons.
Landlords who need to evict for rent arrears or anti-social behaviour are increasingly fed up with being portrayed as the bad guys. As many of them told us, eviction really is a last resort - and not just because it costs them time and money. Many say they’d far rather their tenants helped them keep on top of repairs and maintenance by reporting work that needs to be done promptly.
Of course, there’s no denying that a minority of poor landlords behave in a way that the majority wouldn’t dream of. But the claims over retaliatory eviction reflect a stereotyping of landlords which undermines the crucial role they are playing in meeting housing need.
Rather than changes in the law which would make it harder for responsible landlords to evict when they really need to, we’d like to see recognition and support for landlords as they seek to provide more of the homes our country needs.