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Ellie’s plight ‘shows law needs to change’

Tom Wall15/10/2014 - 13:00

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Ellie May faces eviction for complaining
Ellie May faces eviction for complaining

Housing campaigners have urged MPs to support measures to outlaw revenge evictions after EHN investigated the plight of tenants made homeless for complaining about health hazards.

Last month EHN highlighted the case of Ellie May, who was threatened with eviction for complaining to her council about her cockroach infested flat in North London.

She told EHN this week that the flat was still infested even though the council had served a notice on the landlord.

‘I recently woke up with a cockroach on my pillow. It is disgusting. But I’m going to be evicted for complaining about it,’ she said.



Campbell Robb, Shelter's chief executive, told EHN that nobody should have to live in a home that puts their health and wellbeing at risk, let alone face eviction just for asking their landlord to fix a problem.

‘Yet every day, we hear from renters like Ellie living in homes that are putting their health and wellbeing at risk, but feeling powerless to do anything about it. This has to stop,’ he said.

‘With a bill to end revenge evictions going through parliament next month, we now have a real chance to change the law and protect our nine million renters. We're calling on people across the country to email their MPs and ask them to vote to end this unfair practice once and for all.’

Shelter also called on EHN readers to come forward with examples of retaliatory evictions to strengthen the case for a change in the law (please contact EHN’s digital editor Tom Wall on t.wall@cieh.org if you have any examples). 

Sarah Teather, whose private members bill to outlaw revenge evictions has received government backing ‘in principal’, told EHN that the Ellie’s case showed why the law needed to change. 

‘The plight of Ellie May, who appears to have been threatened with eviction for complaining, shows why the law needs to change. Tenants like Ellie need to able to report housing problems to environmental health without loosing their homes,’ she said.

Ms Teather’s bill will stop landlords evicting tenants if EHOs are taking enforcement action or have found category one or two hazards.

She also encouraged EHOs to come forward with examples of revenge evictions. 

The Department for Communities and Local Government has said it is backing Ms Teather's bill ‘in principle’ on the condition that it ‘only targets bad landlords and cannot be used by tenants to frustrate legitimate evictions’.

Bob Mayho, CIEH principal policy officer, said the CIEH unequivocally supported the bill.

‘It represents a vital opportunity to end the shocking practice of revenge evictions against some of the most vulnerable in society and would give renters the confidence to enforce their right to live in a safe and comfortable home,’ he said.

‘Many of our members working in local authority housing tell us that it is the fear, as much as the reality of retaliatory eviction that can be a major deterrent for renters reporting poor conditions. Our members tell us they deal with these cases on a daily basis and that the phenomenon is growing by the day.’

Haringey Council said it would check if the infestation at Ellie's flat had been treated.

'We have been informed by the landlord of this property that the cockroach infestation is now being treated. We will be monitoring this treatment to ensure it is thoroughly and properly carried out. The tenant has also been informed,' said a spokesperson.

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