The Harassment and illegal eviction are criminal offences under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Legal action is brought by the council and the tenant becomes a witness in the local authority prosecution. At the same time, they are also civil offences, known as ‘Breach of Covenant for Quiet Enjoyment” and a renter can take their own action as well as the council prosecution, so the offending landlord or agent can receive a criminal record and be fined and be ordered to pay damages to the tenant in a civil claim. Civil claims are generally heard much faster than criminal ones but there are two main barriers to renters taking their own action.
Back in April 2019 the national press picked up on a success story of a group of students who won a Rent Repayment Order against their landlord, kick starting a wave of interest from tenants and advisers alike. One of the crucial items we tick off our list at Safer Renting when interviewing one of our referred clients these days is whether or not the possibility for an RRO exists. In fact, RROs have been around for quite a while, having been ushered in by the Housing Act 2004 but they weren’t flavour of the month until comparatively recently. Why?
I was genuinely fascinated to read about a new concept in rental living reported in free London newspaper, City AM, where prospective tenants choose to pay through the nose for small living spaces that come without bills or the necessity for cleaning and offer a more communal experience, with plumbed in activities, such as yoga classes and mental wellness sessions. Is this where certain groups of younger, wage earning tenants are looking for their housing needs? If so I wonder if contemporary renting laws, kickstarted with the Law of Property Act 1925 fits with this trend, if trend it be.
Evictions from a private tenancy are a major part of the 78% rise in homelessness since 2011. So-called allow private landlords to turf tenants out without any reason, and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation attributes 80% of the recent rise in evictions to this process. We must be able to hold landlords to account if we are to lower the numbers of people that end up at local authorities’ doors.
Safer Renting Director Roz Spencer shares insights into London’s broken private renter market and demands proper protections for renters in the Guardian.
’On the first day of my paid internship at the Safer Renting project, my manager informed that I would be getting up at five o’clock the next morning to enter a property with a warrant from the magistrate’s court. I soon realised that this was no ordinary internship.’ – Safer Renting intern Sarah Collins shares her experiences.