Human rights ruling halts eviction
Councils could face increased pressure not to evict tenants who go into arrears after a Supreme Court ruling.
Hounslow Council tried to evict Rebecca Powell, 23, because she owed more than £3,500 in arrears. The council had housed her in temporary accommodation after she became homeless in April 2007.
She was entitled to £15,000 in housing benefit but had not applied for it properly.
The council began eviction procedures, but stopped when Ms Powell appealed under the Human Rights Act.
The Supreme Court ruled last week that under the European Convention on Human Rights it would be wrong to evict Ms Powell as it would be a breach of ‘respect for a person’s home’.
The judge said the council had not considered whether it was ‘proportionate’ to evict her.
Last week’s hearing follows on from the Pinnock case last year. This ruled courts should test the proportionality of landlord’s decision to carry out mandatory possession proceedings, taking into account a tenant’s personal circumstances.
A spokesperson for Hounslow Council said: ‘This is an evolving area of law. Hounslow argued this case and its position was vindicated as evidenced by the results in both the county court and Court of Appeal.
‘Judgement in the case of Pinnock was handed down on 3 November 2010 and set binding precedent. Ms Powell was heard on 23 November 2010 and on the advice of counsel, alternative accommodation was provided to Ms Powell to limit costs and avoid the necessity of a rehearing in the county court.
‘Hounslow Council and no doubt other councils will be concerned about the implications of this case in terms of the management and allocation of its housing resources.’
Ms Powell has agreed to clear her debt at a rate of £5 per week, or more if possible.