Mother handed eviction notice after complaining about ‘damp’

A mother of a three-year-old girl was served a “no-fault” eviction notice after she complained to her landlord about damp and mould in her flat. Chiara, 33, who works as a teacher, was residing in a privately rented two-bed in Leyton, East London with her husband and daughter Maggie.

She stated that the flat had severe damp and mould that required urgent attention.

She said: “Last Christmas Eve we received a 25 percent increase in rent, despite us living with long-term damp and mould.

“I complained, and in the New Year the landlord responded with a section 21 eviction notice, saying they didn’t accept any responsibility for the disrepair or damage.

“Even before the section 21, we’d spend a lot of time at the library, church, or cafes, just so we didn’t have to worry about Maggie being in the damp and cold.

“I was up all night looking online for properties, but it’s really hard out there. Rents have massively gone up.

“People are so desperate they’ll consider taking a flat that’s mouldy or in disrepair just because there’s nothing else.

“There really needs to be a way of holding landlords accountable, or for there to be some sort of record so you can look and see if someone is a good landlord.

“The thought of this happening to us in our next place always looms over me.

“I pretend everything is OK in front of Maggie, but the worry of becoming homeless is making me feel ill.”

According to the charity Shelter, she is not alone.

Research conducted by the charity has found that private renters who raise issues with their landlords, letting agents or local council about the poor condition of the house are more likely to get an eviction notice than the ones who had not complained.

The research compiled by YouGov, for Shelter, highlights the issues faced by private renters.

The survey was carried out online between 24th February and 14th March 2023, and the results were weighted to be representative of private renters.

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The research found out that due to the lack of regulation in private renting, a large number of tenants are trapped in a ‘catch-22’ situation whereby they either put up with poor conditions or risk being kicked out for complaining.

The data collated in the survey suggested that 25 percent of private renters- just over 2 million people- have not asked their landlord for repairs to be carried out or conditions improved for fear of being evicted.

Shelter is urging the Government to urgently introduce the Renters’ Reform Bill to put an end to unfair evictions, drive up standards, and hold landlords to account for poor behaviour.

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Shelter, said: “By dragging its heels on the Renters Reform Bill, the government has left private renters in a terrible catch-22 – they either shut up and put up with disrepair or risk more than doubling their chances of eviction in a cost of living crisis.

“Day in day out Shelter hears from people who are forking out huge sums on rent while living in nightmarish conditions because private renting is woefully under-regulated.

“It is a travesty that so many private renters are too afraid to complain about the mould growing all over their kids’ clothes, or the water pouring in through broken window frames, in case it costs them their home.

“Renters are bearing the brunt of government dithering over urgently needed private rental reforms. Renters can’t wait any longer, the government must urgently make its Renters’ Reform Bill law to protect tenants who call out poor conditions from unfair evictions and homelessness.”

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