Saturday, 04 July 2015

Human rights court to examine eviction

The European Court of Human Rights is to scrutinise the procedures social landlords use to evict unruly tenants.

The court has challenged the UK government to say whether the eviction of Blackpool council tenants Paul and Amanda Wilkes in 2007 was in line with parts of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Wilkes family, including their two children, had their one-year introductory tenancy terminated following 57 incidents of alleged anti-social behaviour, including threatening to kill a neighbour and threatening to burn down a block of flats. They lodged an appeal with the court later that year.

The court has announced it is pursuing the case. It wants to establish whether Blackpool Council’s decision to evict the family was proportionate, and that the review panel which confirmed the decision was sufficiently independent.

The investigation follows a Supreme Court ruling involving Manchester Council tenant Cleveland Pinnock, in which the court ruled there must be proportionality when landlords carry out mandatory possession hearings - especially where landlords have an unqualified right to posses a home, such as on introductory tenancies.

Nick Billingham, a partner at solicitors Devonshires, said the government should have little to worry about on either count. ‘It would be surprising if they [the European Court] decided that Blackpool’s decision was disproportionate,’ he said.

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