Tenants are trying to exploit human rights laws to stop paying rent and block evictions, warns the Residential Landlords Association.
The RLA is concerned that a case waiting to go before the Appeal Court will leave landlords unable to reclaim their buy to let properties if renters breach tenancy agreements.
A social landlord, Hounslow Council, has already lost one case to a tenant in the Supreme Court and the RLA is worried the decision will set a precedent for private landlords.
The council evicted a tenant who owed £3,500 in rent.
The tenant claimed the eviction breached her human rights and the Supreme Court upheld her appeal on the grounds the council had not considered whether it was ‘proportionate’ to evict Miss Powell and ordered that the eviction be quashed.
Under human rights law, proportionality is applying tests to make sure any action is not a ‘sledgehammer to crack a nut’.
The key questions are:
- Is there a reason for taking the action?
- Is there a less restrictive alternative that could apply?
- Have the rights of the affected people been considered?
Explaining the RLA’s concerns, policy director and solicitor Richard Jones said: “Private landlords can start eviction proceedings based on a tenant breaching the terms of their contract if they fall into arrears on their rent by two months. Once a tenancy is ended landlords can evict using Section 21 – the so called no fault notice only ground for possession.
“I am aware of at least one case which has gone to the Appeal Court where a private tenant is relying on human rights laws to try to avoid eviction. We are waiting to see what happens in this case. Even if this does not go ahead another is going to come along and the question is going to have to be dealt with.
“If human rights laws apply to private rentals, small scale landlords letting a couple of properties would soon hit financial crisis point if they were unable to evict a tenant who failed to pay their rent for two months or longer.”