Should landlords evict tenants if they or a member of their household is convicted of riot-related crimes, asks Yetunde Dania.
Prime minister David Cameron has said he will back social landlords which evict tenants convicted of involvement in England’s recent riots.
Following the disorder we have seen a man jailed for six months for stealing a £3.60 bottle of water, and a young mother receive a prison sentence for handling goods stolen during the riots. While it is not known whether these people are social housing tenants, if they were, would it be right to evict them?
Their convictions could trigger possession proceedings on the grounds they have broken their tenancy agreements. Most tenancies state that the tenant is responsible for the behaviour of members of their household while in the ‘locality of their home’.
The success of eviction cases will turn on the interpretation of ‘locality’. In Birmingham, rioting started in the city centre.
There are housing estates within a three-mile radius of the centre, so it might be easier to argue that offences committed by tenants on these estates occurred within the locality of their home than for people living further afield.
The government is considering changing the law to make it easier to evict those who engage in anti-social behaviour beyond the locality of their homes.
There has also been much debate over whether tenants should be liable for the criminal actions of members of their household, in particular children.
If social landlords do use riot-related convictions to evict tenants, would this pave the way for society to pressure them into evicting whenever someone living in their homes is convicted of a crime? The debate continues.
Yetunde Dania is a partner at Trowers & Hamlins