Speedy evictions set to face government scrutiny

News

10 April, 2008

Trigger happy housing associations who look to press the eviction button too quickly when involved in tenancy disputes are to come under scrutiny from the Government.

The Government is to set up a working group that will investigate claims that some social landlords are too quick to evict tenants without first considering other viable methods of resolving the conflict.

In a speech to MPs, junior housing minister Iain Wright proposed that a collective body consisting of some of the housing sectors most influential voices would undertake the investigation.

It has been announced that Shelter, Citizen's Advice, the National Housing Federation, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Housing Corporation would all form part of the working group.

The Government remains hopeful that a combined and sustained effort will redress the harsh response employed by a small minority of registered social landlords and other private sector landlords in respects of tenancy disputes.

Under the current legislation, housing associations and private landlords have the power to evict any tenant who has built up rent arrears totaling more than two months payment.

This is a mandatory ground for possession and fails to take into account the relevant circumstances affecting a tenant's ability to pay. For example, a tenant who is awaiting payment of housing benefit, but whose claim is delayed because of administration constraints, could effectively be evicted without due consideration to his predicament.

Many critics feel that this is unjust and a new approach needs to be employed.It can also be argued that any attempt to taper a landlord's right to evict tenants who fail to comply with the terms of their tenancy would dilute their empowerment to manage their own properties as they see fit. This could heavily impact upon their ability to offer low cost housing to the most-deserving of tenants.

Whatever your opinion, the underlying message appears to be that eviction should only be considered as a last resort.

For further information please contact Stuart Penswick, Lachlan McLean or Sam Gorrell in the Housing Litigation team on 01772 220022.

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