Last week Shelter and the National Housing Federation took a swipe at lettings agents, and now Citizens Advice has joined the party claiming that any tenant who formally complains about their housing conditions faces a one-in-two chance of being evicted.
According to a report from Citizens’ Advice, called Touch and Go, it says 46 per cent chance of private tenants who complain about issues like damp or mould are issued with a Section 21 eviction notice within six months.
The charity claims this has affected about 141,000 tenants since 2015.
The research says complaining “dramatically increases a renter's chance of getting an eviction notice when compared to people who do not complain”.
It says tenants who had received a section 21 "no-fault eviction" notice were twice as likely to have complained to their landlord, five times more likely to have gone to their local authority, and eight times more likely to have complained to a redress scheme.
The charity argues the figures show - although the charity itself uses the word “prove” - that recent laws designed to prevent families and other tenants in the private rented sector from being evicted after raising a complaint have not worked.
The research includes a unique survey of council Environmental Health Officers that found three in every four EHOs saw tenants receive a no-fault eviction after complaining last year.
Of the officers who had been in their role before 2015, 90 per cent said they have not seen a drop in revenge evictions - despite laws to reduce S21 notices coming into effect that year.
Now Citizens Advice is calling for laws around tenant security to be significantly strengthened.
In a statement released over the weekend the charity says its advisers helped one mother who moved into a house with her husband and two children and went to her council because a leak in the home was causing her partner's health to deteriorate. One day before an environmental health inspection was due to take place, she was issued a section 21 eviction notice, it claims.
The charity says it supports government proposals for minimum three-year tenancies, but is concerned that potential loopholes may undermine protections that longer tenancies provide.
Citizens Advice now wants three-year tenancies to be written into law, and for these tenancies to include limits on rent rises to prevent landlords from effectively evicting tenants through pricing them out, to have no break clause at six months, and allowing tenants to leave contracts early if the landlord doesn't uphold legal responsibilities.
The charity also believes if three-year tenancies are agreed, the government should then review grounds for section 8 evictions - normally used when tenants are antisocial or fail to pay rent, and which allow landlords to recover the property if they choose to sell up.
"The chance of a family being evicted from their home for complaining about a problem shouldn't carry the same odds as the toss of a coin. Those living in substandard properties must have greater protection against eviction when they complain” says Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.
Citizens Advice used a polling organisation to survey 2,001 private renters in March this year, and used an online survey of 97 Environmental Health Officers working across 59 local authorities in England in July this year.