Most housing providers will pursue eviction, poll reveals
Landlords: ‘We will kick convicted rioters out ’
Most social landlords in areas affected by last week’s riots will consider evicting tenants convicted of offences relating to the disorder.
A snap survey by Inside Housing has revealed that 14 will pursue the eviction of tenants convicted of rioting or looting.
A further 13 social landlords said they would consider eviction but would make decisions on a case-by-case basis. Just nine of the 36 landlords polled said they would not seek to evict convicted rioters.
The law already allows landlords to use a tenant’s conviction for an offence in the ‘locality of their home’ as grounds for possession. This week, housing minister Grant Shapps proposed amending the law to extend these powers to include crimes committed beyond the immediate neighbourhood.
In a letter sent to landlords in England on Monday he wrote: ‘Where a social tenant or member of their household decides to wreak havoc in someone else’s community, social landlords should have some scope to take action.’
At the end of last week Wandsworth Council in south London became the first landlord to announce its intention to evict a tenant in connection with the riots. It wants to evict the mother of an 18-year-old charged with burglary and violent disorder in the borough, but not in the immediate locality of his home - despite the fact he has yet to enter a plea.
‘If he’s acquitted we will withdraw the application [for eviction],’ a council spokesperson said.
But Tom Murtha, chief executive of Birmingham-based housing association Midland Heart, said he felt eviction was ‘inappropriate’ because it would not address individuals’ problems and families would simply have to be housed elsewhere.
Metropolitan Housing Trust, which saw 26 of its homes destroyed by arsonists during rioting in Tottenham, north London, said in a statement: ‘We will make an assessment based on the facts of each case.’
Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy and external affairs at homelessness charity Crisis, said: ‘An extra sanction [on top of legal action] should not be imposed just because they live in social housing.’
Keith Jenkins, partner at law firm Winckworth Sherwood, said even though landlords can evict tenants under current legislation, it would not be easy. He added that any change in the law would create more problems than it would solve: ‘If you [commit a crime] in another city, or another country, does it still count? Every time we have football fans rioting in Paris we’d be facing evictions.’
David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East said ‘turning whole families onto the streets is not the solution’.
The Tenant Services Authority published figures this week showing a steady drop in the number of tenants evicted by social landlords over the past five years. The figures reveal landlords have increased their use of anti-social behaviour injunctions to deal with problem tenants.
To evict or not to evict? Social landlords’ views on evicting tenants convicted of riot-related offences
Barking and Dagenham Council
Gloucester City Homes
Hammersmith & Fulham Council
New Charter Housing Trust
Waltham Forest Council
Eviction to be considered in some cases
Liverpool Mutual Homes
London & Quadrant
Metropolitan Housing Trust
Places for People
Southern Housing Group
Tower Hamlets Council