Can my landlord evict me instead of doing repairs?
Landlords are legally required to carry out certain repairs to your home. But before you take action, you need to consider the risk that your landlord might try to evict you rather than do the work.
What are the risks of being evicted?
The risks of being evicted by your landlord depends on the type of tenancy you have and whether there are any legal reasons for the eviction. Some private tenants can be evicted without a legal reason, while others can only be evicted in certain circumstances.
Remember, not all landlords will try to evict you, even if they can so it is always worth trying to negotiate. If you are planning on leaving anyway you may just leave the repairs and claim an amount of compensation for your landlord’s failure to deal with them.
Assured shorthold tenants
Most private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy. If this is the case, your landlord does not need to have a legal reason to evict you. If they want to evict you, your landlord must give you the correct amount of notice and must follow the correct legal procedure. If the correct procedure has been followed, the courts will have to give possession to your landlord.
Think carefully before you decide what to do. If there’s not much time left on your agreement, your landlord might decide to give you notice rather than do the work. But if you’ve still got months to go, and your home is unsafe, it may be worth taking action – even if it means that you have to leave at the end of your contract.
Beware: If your landlord can prove a legal reason for eviction (for example because you have been withholding rent) your landlord may be able to evict you more quickly. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, it may be unwise to take action in this situation. Always try to talk to an adviser before you decide what to do.
If you have an assured tenancy, you have very strong rights and can only be evicted in certain circumstances. In most cases, your landlord will have to prove to the court that you have done something wrong, ie: breached a condition of your tenancy, like not paying your rent. It is probably fairly safe for you to take action to force your landlord to do the repairs, providing your landlord won’t be able to prove another legal reason for eviction (eg rent arrears).
Regulated tenants have more rights than other private tenants. It will be very difficult for your landlord to evict you, so it is worth taking action to get repair works done.
But you must make sure you don’t have rent arrears, or give your landlord any other reason to evict you. If you’re having difficulty trying to get repairs done, contact a local advice centre immediately. Do not give up your home, as you will probably lose important rights and will probably have to pay a lot more rent if you move somewhere else.
Occupiers with basic protection
If you’re an occupier with basic protection, your rights to remain in your home are limited. Your landlord can almost certainly get an order to evict you but s/he still has to follow the correct procedure. You are entitled to at least four weeks’ notice, but you won’t be able to stop the eviction from going ahead. You should think carefully before you decide whether to take action about the disrepair. If you do decide to take action, make sure that you’ll be able to find somewhere else if you need to.
If you’re an excluded occupier, you have very little protection from eviction. Your landlord only has to give you reasonable notice if they want you to leave. The notice could be verbal, and might not give you much time. If your landlord refuses to do the work that’s needed, you may have to put up with things as they are or look for somewhere else.
What if my landlord turns nasty?
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 illegal eviction or harassment. These are serious criminal offences and you should seek urgent advice if your landlord takes any action designed to force you to leave your home.