Landlords face possibility that they may not be able to evict tenants under Human Rights Law!

Landlords face possibility that they may not be able to evict tenants under Human Rights Law!

15:31 PM, 11th April 2012, About 10 years ago 56

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I have just read a thread on Property Tribes that says Hounslow Council have been prevented so far from evicting a tenant because she is claiming that they are contravening her human rights under Article 8 of Human Rights Act 1998.

This is what Article 8 says –

Article 8 Right to respect for private and family life

  • Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence..
  • There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

I can easily see why local authorities are vulnerable to The Act but not how it might relate to a private landlord. The Human Rights Act 1998 does not apply to private individuals, or am I missing something? Particularly since a large landlords organisation are expressing concern?

Something does occur to me though, if this tenant wins using the Act against the local authority where does this leave all local authorities? I’ll bet Ben Reeve-Lewis has something to say about that? Will they need to transfer the ownership of all their stock to private individuals or companies? Is there a business opportunity here for the PRS?

Or will the Secretary of State exercise this power under Section 14.

…does not prevent the Secretary of State from exercising his power under subsection (1) F5…to make a fresh designation order in respect of the Article concerned.


by Ben Reeve-Lewis

9:56 AM, 12th April 2012, About 10 years ago

Yes Chris, as I have said, Domestic law is the major consideration. The purpose of ECHR is not to interfere with that. All your other points are equally accurate apart from 2
It is legally incorrect to assert that tenants behaviour voids an agreement and is law breaking.
Bad behaviour on the part of a tenant does not void a tenancy agreement, it gives the landlord grounds to evict.
Also such behaviour is not unlawful, simply a breach of tenancy, which is contract law.
I recently had to advise a housing association, housing officer who had served a Notice to Quit on her tenant (should have been a section 8) for breaking his contract by repeatedly mending and selling cars on his front garden. She also held the opinion that tenancy breach invalidated their tenancy agreement. This is simply wrong law.


18:51 PM, 12th April 2012, About 10 years ago

Why is this person being evicted for.  If its because they wont pay the rent then they are committing a criminal offense of theft.  The land lords income may be the rent from this place and any failure to have the agreed sum of money in rent paid at an agreed time, then it is theft, the same as some one refusing to pay an employee their wages. 

by Mark Alexander

19:45 PM, 12th April 2012, About 10 years ago

Clarke, it feels like theft and I think about a million landlords would vote for a political party who's manifesto was to make none payment of rent a crime but sadly the law says it isn't.

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

20:01 PM, 12th April 2012, About 10 years ago

Clarke we arent talking about anyone in particular. Just the legal concept of human rights defences in possession proceedings, which in PRS terms is largely an academic argument.

I must say I worry for the future of the PRS when landlords cant understand these legal concepts that govern the business. Its very basic stuff


3:37 AM, 13th April 2012, About 10 years ago

I think you are right to be concernde.
I think very few LL understand the legal concepts tthat govern the business.
I include myself in this aswell!!

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

7:33 AM, 13th April 2012, About 10 years ago

Its genuinely a serious problem. As you know Paul I'm a very tolerant and chilled TRO and I try to help landlords wherever I can rather than prosecute. My views on Shelter's rogue landlord campaign are well known  and as I have always said in my crticisms of it, the vast majority of problems that get thrown before people in my line of work are driven by ignorance rather than malice but you have to draw the line somewhere.

I'm not saying its necessary for landlords to know all 6 volumes of the housing law encyclopedia or to understand legal concepts like the difference between Champerty and Maintenance but there are some basic things that are inexcusable for a landlrod not to know. Like the legal difference between theft and rent arrears.

Education, as Mary and I keep banging on about is the key. For tenants too.

At my work I am about to start a club, the "1st Landlrod's Club", for buy to let people new to the industry. They will have a member's only area on the website I am creating and a hotline for support and advice for a fixed period, plus I will run monthly tea and biscuit evenings in the town hall for them where they get to meet me, Environmental Health, HMO licensing etc and we can explain things and answer questions.

On the flip side we are also going to be running 2 hour training sessions for tenant we place with landlords that is compulsory before signing up, where we teach them how housing benefit works and what their obligations are to a landlord and under a tenancy agreement.

I have to do these things in my own time because the prevailing line of thought in councils is that we shouldnt be holding hands just upholding the law and Shelter's campaign along Grant Shapps's assertion that there is enough legislation to prosecute rogue landlords is gathering force believe it or not and pressure is rolling downhill to get more prosecutions done. Its all about statistics in my game.

If this gathers more pace ignorance of the law aint gonna help any of you. So get educated. Join your local Landlords accreditation scheme, they provide free housnig law training that is CPD accredited

by Mark Alexander

7:41 AM, 13th April 2012, About 10 years ago


I would very much like you to expand on the quote below and to create an article from it please..........

"the prevailing line of thought in councils is that we shouldnt be holding hands just upholding the law and Shelter's campaign along Grant Shapps's assertion that there is enough legislation to prosecute rogue landlords is gathering force believe it or not and pressure is rolling downhill to get more prosecutions done. Its all about statistics in my game. If this gathers more pace ignorance of the law aint gonna help any of you."

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

8:24 AM, 13th April 2012, About 10 years ago

Sorry mate its a long reply

OK. I often forget that how councils work is an alien unknown land to people outside the town hall. I am in a unique position in being a trainer and having worked as a housing consultant in quite a few councils, both rural and urban. Let me paint a picture and this goes for all councils that I know.
It’s a hierarchy. Politicians in government interface with council leaders and chief execs. I actually have a lot of time for the people at the top in most councils, they are usually quite creative (they have to be to keep things going in the face of cuts) and can get things done quite quickly. Their decisions are coloured by prevailing political thought. They often have one eye fixed on moving into central government politics themselves.
Underneath the leaders are the departmental heads. These people are responsible for passing the broad brush stroke ideas down into an operational level and statistics are all.
Underneath the departmental heads are the team or unit heads, where pressures on performance and statistics weigh even more heavily. This is the most difficult place to be. They have to pass unpopular decisions down the line that they didn’t think up themselves and take the flak flowing back up from the front line by people like me, telling them they are talking rubbish.
And in the bargain basement are the people who work the frontline, the ones who deliver the services day to day. We see the effects of the big policies in action and are the first to see when it is going down the toilet. Unfortunately nobody listens to us, its all about stats. Numbers, tick boxes.
For instance. I defend people’s homes from mortgage repossession, both by carrying out long and protracted negotiations with the thieving banks who have broken all the rules to get someone’s home off of them and by defending the borrower in court. This work also means I do the government’s Mortgage Rescue Scheme.
MRS is a last resort, you have to negotiate first. In the 3 years its been in I have passed only 5 cases up for MRS out of approximately 300. Most councils aren’t anywhere near that low figure. Its because I am bloody good at what I do but all I get asked for every month are the MRS stats to pass up to government because that is all that counts. I have even been criticised for not doing enough MRS.
NHAS recently estimated that it costs around £16,000 to rehouse a homeless family. I did a quick count up with my oppo last week and on that basis we estimate we have saved the council £2.4 million in 3 years, but all they want are the MRS stats which to government makes it look like we aren’t very busy or effective.
Prosecution of landlords will provide statistics, lovely, gorgeous, indisputable, solid statistics that keep politicians in their jobs. Something for them to spout over the ballot box on a Tuesday afternoon.
Shapps pushes hard, and the ball starts rolling, downhill to enforcement officers like me.
Also council officers at many levels hold different thoughts. I know able, good people who also don’t agree we should be working with landlords, holding the view that if we are an enforcement organisation then it must legally be a conflict of interest. I see their point but disagree. I have no problem with holding 2 roles. I’ll work with a landlord as far as I can but if they don’t listen to my advice or take my assistance then I have no problem stepping into my other role at that point.
I happen to think that the more time I spend building relationships with landlords the less time I spend waiting in court for an injunction against them. Also the more time I have to go after the real criminals.
The problem is that although there are many like me in councils we can be over-ruled if political BS runs down hill and blocks it. This is why I have to do things in my own time and work outside the system as much as possible.
Landlords have a poor reputation in many quarters and being brutally honest a lot of the time landlords bring this on themselves. Not by being rogues but by the sheer unprofessionalism that runs throughout so much of the PRS. Lack of education is a big part of that. So landlords become easy targets. If the people high up decide that their reputation can be enhanced by taking pot-shots at easy targets then prosecution stats will the next big thing that filters through to front line delivery and no amount of yelling about common sense from me will stop it.
Landlord Accreditation schemes can really help, in working like a landlord’s union. The educate, inform and provide support. I sit on the steering group of the London Landlords Accreditation scheme. We have loads of London landlords signed up but we need more.
I think Mary sits on the Midlands one.
Sorry for the long reply

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

8:40 AM, 13th April 2012, About 10 years ago

Ok I will do. My dander is up now!!!!


10:53 AM, 13th April 2012, About 10 years ago

Sorry Ben,

I see the risk of this type of case as being another reason to try to avoid any tenant that may get legal aid.  Regardless of the outcome, the landlord gets
the legal costs and no help when the tenant get a law firm being funded by our
taxes trying to make a name for themselves.

Even if the judge is sensible and does not delay the case, the landlord has still had to pay for lots of legal advice and/or spend a lot of time understanding the tenant’s use of the human rights law.

Then when the landlord wins the case, there is very little hope of ever recovering the cost and lost rent from the tenant due to someone trying on a human rights defence.

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