Retaliatory eviction if you ask for repairs
- Standard contract-holders who ask for repairs have some protection against retaliatory eviction
- Courts can dismiss a possession claim if a ’no fault’ notice was given by the landlord to avoid repairs
- Landlords can’t give a further ’no fault’ notice for 6 months if the court decides their claim is retaliatory
What is ‘retaliatory’ eviction?
A retaliatory or revenge eviction is when a landlord gives a ‘no fault’ eviction notice to a contract-holder who asks for repairs or complains about bad housing conditions.
Your landlord might decide to use a ‘no fault’ notice to avoid carrying out repairs or making your home fit to live in. This type of notice can be given even when you have not breached your occupation contract.
Landlords do not have to prove a legal reason to the court if they make a possession claim following a ‘no fault’ notice. This means that the court usually has to grant a possession order as long as your landlord followed the correct procedure.
However, the court can dismiss the possession claim if the landlord is evicting you to avoid carrying out repairs or making your home fit to live in.
Who is at risk of retaliatory eviction?
You could be at risk of retaliatory eviction if you have any of the following types of contract:
- a fixed term standard contract with a landlord’s break clause
- a periodic standard contract that allows a ‘no fault’ (section 173) notice to be given
- an introductory standard contract
- a prohibited conduct standard contract
- a supported standard contract
- any other type of standard contract with a community landlord
However, if you have a secure contract you are not at risk of retaliatory eviction because your contract cannot be ended with a ‘no fault’ notice.
Contract-holders who have a private landlord are usually at greater risk of retaliatory eviction than those who have a community landlord.
What if I am in rent arrears?
If you are in rent arrears, or have breached the contract in another way, your landlord might give you a ‘with grounds’ notice. This means the landlord would need to show the court that you are in arrears or have breached the contract.
You are not protected against retaliatory eviction if you receive a ‘with grounds’ notice.
If you are in serious rent arrears of 2 months or more and have a standard contract, you can be evicted very easily. Get help if you are in this situation.
Protection from retaliatory eviction
The law protects standard contract-holders against retaliatory eviction.
If your landlord applies to court for a possession order, you can inform the court that you believe you were given notice because you asked for repairs to be done or for your home to be made fit to live in.
If the court is satisfied that the landlord is trying to evict you because you asked for work to be done, they no longer have to give the landlord a possession order.
This means that they can refuse the landlord’s application to evict you, or choose to make a different order.
If you are an excluded occupier (e.g. a lodger) or an occupier with basic protection you are not protected against retaliatory eviction. Also, you are unlikely to be protected if you live in or temporary or supported accommodation but do not have a standard contract.
How can I show the court that it’s a retaliatory eviction?
There are some things you can do that could help show the court that it is a retaliatory eviction. You should:
- keep copies of all communication with your landlord
- follow our advice about reporting repairs
- keep records about previous problems with your landlord (e.g. have they been angry about requests for repairs before or harassed you etc.) Even if communication was verbal, make a note of it at the time and keep it in a safe place.
- show the court that you received notice after you asked your landlord for repairs
- if the council’s environmental health team are involved, ask for copies of the report and any letters or notices they have sent to the landlord
Can my landlord just give me another ‘no fault’ notice?
No. If the court has decided that your landlord’s claim was retaliatory because you asked for work to be done, your landlord cannot give you another ‘no fault’ (section 173 or landlord’s break clause) notice for 6 months.
This means that in most cases your landlord will not be able to try to evict you in court for 1 year, unless you breach your occupation contract. You can find out more from our eviction advice pages.
Other defences against ‘no fault’ evictions.
There are a number of other reasons that a ‘no fault’ notice might not be valid. For example, if your deposit is not protected or you have not been given a gas safety certificate within the last year. To find out more read out advice about eviction.
What if my landlord starts harassing me to leave?
Most renters can only be evicted by bailiffs with an eviction warrant. Some landlords might try to evict you without following the correct procedure, or make life difficult for you if you try to get them to do repairs. For instance, they might change the locks while you are out, or stop the supply to the property for electricity, or start repairs and leave them unfinished. If something like this happens, your landlord may be guilty of harassment or illegal eviction. These are serious criminal offences and you should get urgent help if your landlord takes any action intended to force you to leave your home.