Ministers are considering introducing a law to ban so-called retaliatory evictions – where tenants who ask for repairs or complain about poor conditions are forced out.
The announcement was made by Jonathan Bramhall, who works at the Department for Communities and Local Government in its private sector property division.
Speaking at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health’s conference, he said the CLG received over one thousand reports of retaliatory evictions a year and also had evidence from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
He told the conference that following a consultation on the private rented sector which ended in March, the Government will announce any new laws this summer.
These could include blocking landlords from using Section 21 as a means of gaining possession if the property contained hazards.
He said this was already the approach in Australia, New Zealand and parts of the US.
He said it could also be possible to force landlords to repay rent if they had illegally evicted tenants or let hazardous properties.
Bramhall emphasised that no decision had yet been made.
He also said that CLG will shortly publish a revised tenants’ charter, a layperson’s guide to the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, and fresh guidance to councils on dealing with rogue landlords.
He said it had not yet been decided to bring in a legal duty on landlords to check electrical appliances for safety.
Bramhall also criticised blanked licensing schemes, saying the Government did not support this approach.
He said: “The risk is that good landlords are caught up and that imposes on them extra costs. We want to focus on the bad landlords.”
He said one possibility was to focus on landlords rather than properties. If landlords were not part of a landlord association, or were not “fit and proper”, they could be subject to compulsory accreditation.