Pickles plans increased eviction powers
The communities and local government department is to consult on plans to give councils the power to evict social tenants if they are convicted of criminal activity outside their local area.
Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, announced today that he was seeking to give local authorities greater powers to evict troublesome tenants in the wake of rioting across England.
Mr Pickles made the announcement after David Cameron, the prime minister, told an emergency Parliament meeting that he wanted more councils to evict tenants found guilty of civil disorder.
Mr Pickles said: ‘It is already a ground for eviction in existing legislation if a tenant or a member of their family is involved in anti-social behaviour or criminal activity in their local neighbourhood.
‘I would urge landlords to consider this provision. We welcome the decision of Hammersmith & Fulham, Greenwich, Southwark and Manchester among others to seek to evict their social tenants found guilty of rioting, and would encourage more local authorities to follow suit.
‘My department is proposing to make necessary changes to housing legislation so that landlords will have even stronger powers to evict tenants who engage in serious anti-social behaviour or criminal activity such as rioting beyond the local neighbourhood.
‘We intend to consult on this proposal immediately as part of the ongoing consultation on anti-social behaviour.’
The announcement was backed by Grant Shapps, the housing minister, who said social housing was a precious resource which should not go to people intent on destroying communities.
Mr Shapps said: ‘The people who rioted and looted over the past few days need to know that there are consequences to their actions.
‘So they should wake up and listen to this clear message: if you live in a social home and you are caught rioting, your one night of madness could have disastrous consequences for the rest of your lives.’
The announcement came as Mr Pickles unveiled a raft of proposals to help residents, councils and businesses deal with the aftermath of destruction caused by four days of rioting and looting.
The package of support includes a government pledge to pick up the tab for all emergency accommodation for families who lost their homes in the rioting.
In addition, homes which are seriously damaged but habitable will be taken off the respective valuation lists while representations have been made to the Valuation Office Agency and local authorities which would remove liability for council tax.
A £10 million recovery fund has also been set up to assist councils in cleaning up, repairing and offering council tax discounts to residents with damaged properties.