Revenge evictions: Landlord 'evicted after we complained'
A couple claim they were the victim of a "revenge eviction" after complaining about the condition of their £1,300-a-month rented home.
Francisca Rigaud and Colin Sharman were "devastated" to receive an eviction notice two months before the contract ended on their Cardiff home.
The method used by the landlord to evict the couple - called a no-fault eviction (NFE) - is completely legal.
A charity claims the system is open to abuse from unscrupulous landlords.
Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act allows landlords to evict tenants - without reason - once their contract has come to an end, or give them notice of the intention to evict two months before it ends.
Ms Rigaud moved into the four-bedroom house with her partner and fellow musician, Colin, in the Penylan suburb of Cardiff in September 2016.
"When we came to this house, there were huge problems," she said. "Even the estate agent called it the 'house of horrors' and said they would try to 'educate' the landlord."
After complaining on several occasions, four months into their six-month contract the couple received an unwelcome knock at the door.
"An agent was there with a letter to hand to me" Ms Rigaud said. "I opened it and l learned we were being evicted."
The notice gave no reasons as to why the landlord wanted them out.
"I completely panicked," she said. "I could not sleep. I would lie on the sofa all night with the TV on to keep my mind off things. We had never heard of no-fault evictions.
"By law you don't need to give any reason but it was clearly because we were demanding that things get done, which I believe was our right."
- Panorama: Evicted for No Reason
- Tenant rights: Can a landlord kick me out?
- Labour plans to give tenants more power
Shelter Cymru said it sees a "large chunk" of its time devoted to helping tenants in this position.
"It is easy for a landlord to do and can be open to abuse, and we are seeing a lot of revenge evictions," campaigns manager Jennie Bibbings said.
"Loss of private tenancy is the leading cause of homelessness in England, and the second in Wales. It is something that creates demand on homelessness services."
The Welsh private rental sector
- About 112,000 children live in privately rented homes
- At least 42% of private tenants do not have a fixed-term tenancy agreement
- A survey shows one in five tenants who have moved in the last five years would have preferred to stay at their previous privately rented home
- Three in four tenants would support tenancy laws similar to Scotland's, where tenants can stay for as long as they like unless there are rent arrears, damage or the landlord needs to sell
Source: Shelter Cymru
Ms Bibbings is calling for revenge evictions to be made illegal and believes NFEs should be banned, as is the case in Scotland.
"Tenants should be able to give their side of the story," she said.
"The essence of this problem is that people can't put down roots. As a tenant, there is only so much you can do."
But the National Landlord Association (NLA) claims such legislative change would see courts further "clogged up".
"We all want a private-rented sector rid of the kind of rogue operators who would rather evict someone than make a repair," Meera Chindooroy, policy manager at the NLA, said.
"However, this is not an accurate picture of the situation. Landlords increasingly rely on no-fault evictions as the courts are too clogged up to cope with section eight possessions claims, and because of rises in fees it is becoming increasingly expensive, especially as tenants may not be paying rent."
The Welsh Government said it already plans to make revenge evictions illegal, and was "considering options" in relation to the NFE procedure.