Revenge evictions to be illegal in Tower Hamlets

Westferry Circus in Tower Hamlets. Pic: Chmee2

Westferry Circus in Tower Hamlets. Pic: Chmee2

Revenge evictions in Tower Hamlets will now be made illegal, thanks to a change in legislation which will give private tenants extra protection.

A revenge or retaliatory eviction is when a landlord or agent serves a tenant an eviction notice because they have complained of disrepair or asked for improvements to be made in the property.

Now tenants can seek an Improvement Notice from the local authority’s environmental health team. This will make the repairs mandatory if warranted and protect residents from eviction.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “Due to the London-wide housing crisis and our growing population, we are experiencing a rise in the number of landlords in the borough. The vast majority are responsible landlords, but a minority are exploiting residents who are desperate for a home, and threatening eviction if they complain. Enforcing this legislation means we can extend more protection to people living in some of the worst accommodation in the borough.”

The rules apply to all tenancy agreements signed on or after October 1, 2015 and were hailed by Councillor Sirajul Islam, Statutory Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for housing as “another tool in our armoury to clamp down on rogue landlords.”

Tenants should contact their landlord as usual when repairs are needed. If the landlord or agent has not replied in a reasonable timescale, the tenants can then contact the council’s environmental health and trading standards team on 020 7364 5008 to ask for an Improvement Notice.

The council will then provide the warning to the landlord, along with a specific time frame in which improvements must be made.

The new rules come alongside Tower Hamlets Council’s new private sector landlord licensing scheme, which applies to certain areas of the borough and comes into effect on October 1, 2016.

Concern has been expressed that the changes still do not go far enough. One commenter online said: “With councils so under-resourced, the question is how long will this actually take? Until and unless any improvement notice is forthcoming, let’s remember that tenants are not safe from revenge eviction at all.”

Contact Tower Hamlets Council’s housing advice service on 020 7364 3558 if you need advice about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord.

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