Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Split politics

From: Housing matters

The debate around whether eviction of social housing tenants should be used as a punishment for convicted rioters became party political this week.

As I said in this column a few weeks ago, Wandsworth Council’s decision to seek the eviction of an 18-year-old alleged rioter if convicted (as well as his mother and younger sister) has sparked a debate about whether the removal of social homes should be used as an additional punishment for convicted rioters.

This week the Liberal Democrats made their position abundantly clear.

A motion at the party’s conference said that evicting social housing tenants would discriminate against them compared with private renters or owner-occupied.  It also said evictions would create more deprivation and encourage criminality.

The Lib Dems’ position is in direct contrast to that of the housing minister, who has proposed changing rules to allow people convicted of anti-social behaviour beyond their immediate neighbourhood to be evicted.

This sets up a potential split in the coalition over the issue and, as a result, it is doubtful whether Grant Shapps’ proposed new rules will become a reality in this parliament.

Labour, meanwhile, has unveiled tough suggestions of its own, pledging new ‘hasbos’ to enable people of all tenures to be evicted from their homes and banned from living within a five mile radius.

In the short term what the national political parties say does not matter as it will be the courts that decide.

In order to be evicted Daniel Sartrain-Clarke would first need to be found guilty by the criminal courts and then Wandsworth Council would have to persuade a county court to grant an eviction order.

This process will take several months and could fail. This, coupled with the political split in the coalition means there is a strong chance that nothing will change regarding eviction of tenants, despite this week’s political rhetoric.

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