Judges block eviction that mars a tenant’s human rights

Judges block eviction that mars a tenant’s human rights

14:07 PM, 24th February 2011, About 13 years ago 11

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The latest Supreme Court case in to tenant rights may mean landlords may not be able to evict tenants who run up rent arrears or behave badly to neighbours.

The court ruled eviction can breach a tenant’s human rights – and denied Hounslow Council the permission to throw out tenant Rebecca Powell despite her owing £3,500 in rent arrears on her council home.

Landlords and lawyers are concerned that tenants will now try and shield deliberate non-payment of rents behind human rights laws.

At this stage, the only cases testing the European Convention on Human Rights relating to the right to ‘respect for a person’s home’ involve tenants in social housing.

The same human rights thinking could also be applied to private tenants – especially those in rent arrears while receiving local housing benefit.

Delivering judgement, Lord Hope said the ‘time had come to accept and apply the jurisprudence of the European court’.

Miss Powell, 23, was given a council home in Cranford, West London, in April 2007.  Around 14 months later, Miss Powell, who lives with a partner and four children, owed the council more than £3,500 in unpaid rent.

She could have claimed £15,000 a year in housing benefit to pay the rent, but had not made a proper application.

The council started eviction proceedings, but Miss Powell appealed under the Human Rights Act.

While awaiting the result of court action, the family moved out of their home so the council could  pay for renovating the property, then  they moved back in.

The human rights thinking is landlords cannot evict tenants under any circumstances if they have not considered where they will live once they leave.

Private landlords with local housing benefit tenants worry that benefit changes later this year that reduce the cash tenants receive from a council to pay their rents could lead to rising arrears problems.

If so, landlords could face subsidising tenants who do not pay the rent out of their own pockets because they cannot evict them.

Is the law completely mad?  Don’t landlords have human rights too?

The latest arrears estimates from LSL Property Services, a leading letting agent, puts unpaid rent owed to landlords just for December at £276 million.

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18:20 PM, 3rd March 2011, About 13 years ago

We don't have the full story hear, but it sounds madness. When will the person with the moral right be given a fair crack of the whip?
Possibly, it will make landlords less willing to rent out, so there will be less property to rent - or less scrupulous landlords will adopt less pleasant eviction tactics!
Bad law all round.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

18:38 PM, 3rd March 2011, About 13 years ago

It only really affects social landlords as private landlords could obviously issue a section 21 notice to take posession of the property at the end of the tenancy

11:32 AM, 4th March 2011, About 13 years ago

We constantly dispare regarding the humans right act, once again the wrong doer is rewarded. The amount that is said the tenant owes the council in real terms will be far more if rented in th private sector. Who pays this back rent? us the tax payer. I wish I could have had four children but we could not afford that many. We pay all our bills including a morgage, do not claim benefits and our income is very small and live on savings. Don`t know why we bothered, this country only looks after those who are really do not care. We find ourselves so near to telling our children to get out of England, with their jobs we are sure Austrailar will get take them in a heart beat.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

11:39 AM, 4th March 2011, About 13 years ago

I know exactly how you feel Sandra. If you fancy a really good rant to get this off your chest, check out this post http://www.property118.com/index.php/my-annual-tax-rant/



22:43 PM, 4th March 2011, About 13 years ago

But it's not about your right to serve a notice. What the tenants in social housing do is wait for the baillifs warrant then apply for a stay of execution- that is when the problems arise, because the hearing is almost always on the morning of eviction and if a tenants screams human rights, a Judge without the full facts in front of them almost always goes with the tenant, while you are taking it further to get them out the arrears are rising. I spent many years working in social housing and I saw some shocking cases.

8:49 AM, 5th March 2011, About 13 years ago

Whilst on the face of it this ruling seems to be potty it may make some sense if all the factors were given the same prominence as the headline. It seems that a useless incompetent and authoritarian council has got what it deserved. If this tenant was eligible for housing benefit then what she needed was help in securing this through the endless beaurocracy and unfathomable forms and not persecution. If they didn't operate as separate little empires and communucated with each other the council departments might serve us all so much better.

9:59 AM, 5th March 2011, About 13 years ago

I despair at the apparent ingenuity of some of your correspondants,who are also presumably landlords themselves. Renting property is a business, and I have little sympathy for those who engage in business in an unbusinesslike manner. This is not to say I haven't been caught out myself on occasion usually through being too lenient with those in arrears of rent. One must learn from one's experience/mistakes, take advantage of advice, and not bleat about being a victim of misfortune.

12:46 PM, 7th March 2011, About 13 years ago

With regard to Mark's comments on Section 21 - why does he think Human Rights will not be extended to this ground for eviction? David is quite right about claiming for Housing Benefit, as a landlord you need to know more than the council (which is not difficult) but after 20 years of dealing with the council I would conservatively say that 7 out of 10 they get it wrong.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

13:35 PM, 7th March 2011, About 13 years ago

Hi Sue

Section 21 does not require any grounds for taking possession of the property, it is a statutory right of any landlord who lets a property on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy subject to them obeying the Tenancy Deposit Regulations.



22:27 PM, 6th April 2011, About 13 years ago

I'm a private tenant and the letting agent served me a S21 with the tenancy agreement so my understanding is that I must leave on the last day of the agreement 5 may. I have had a couple of minor moans and asked for a mandatory gas test and reported 2 leaks. He told me I had to go because LL wanted property back for family member then he advertised it on rightmove to any one. I have 3 kids rent is up to date and my property is kept A1. Can I claim to stay on basis my HRs being breached

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