Shelter has reported that a YouGov survey of 4500 tenants living in private accommodation  found that almost half said they had lived with damp or mould in the last year.

The survey also found that over 60,000 families were threatened with eviction by their landlords after reporting repair problems in their homes.

Unlike most social housing tenants, privately renting tenants with can be evicted by their landlord under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 without the landlord having to prove that the tenant has done anything wrong. As long as the fixed term has ended, the landlord can give the tenants two months’ notice to leave the property, and commence possession proceedings against the tenants if they don’t leave after the two months.

In the context of a housing market where there is a high demand for rental properties, it appears that many landlords are choosing to evict tenants who complain about repair problems such as damp or electrical faults, and replace them with new tenants, instead of complying with their legal obligations to carry out repairs. As a result, many private tenants are afraid to report defects to their homes in case their landlord decides to evict them instead of spending money on repairs.

It was hoped that a private members bill sponsored by the Liberal Democract MP Sarah Teather might assist such tenants in the future. The (Tenancies Reform) Bill 2014/2015 includes provisions to prevent landlords from serving section 21 notices where the tenant has complained about the conditions in the property and the local authority has in response served a hazard notice under the Housing Act 2004.

The Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons on 28 November 2014 but it will not now proceed since two Conservative MPs effectively talked out the bill so that there wasn’t time for the vote on the Second Reading.

It is however thought that the same or similar provisions may instead be included in the Deregulation Bill which is currently in the Committee Stage of the House of Commons.