Tuesday, 21 June 2011

'Tenants from hell' claim human rights over eviction

The European Court of Human Rights is to scrutinise the legality of eviction procedures used by social landlords in the UK.

Although the case specifically affects local authorities and social housing organisations, it will be watched with interest by private landlords, who fear it can only be a matter of time before private tenants start claiming ‘human rights’.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights says that people have the right to ‘respect for private and family life’.

In the case, Blackpool council tenants Paul and Amanda Wilkes were evicted in 2007. They have now gone to the European Court of Human Rights, which will rule on whether their eviction violated their human rights.

The Wilkes family, including their two children, had their 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 themselves have admitted they were 'no angels'.

They have spent four years going through the courts, funded by legal aid, but all refused to rule that the Wilkes’ rights had been breached.

They then secured legal aid to take Blackpool Council to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Strasbourg court will specifically want to establish whether the decision to evict the family was ‘proportionate’.

The case follows a Supreme Court ruling involving another council tenant, Cleveland Peck, in Manchester. Although he lost his case, the court specifically referred to human rights legislation and the requirement that any eviction must be ‘proportional’.

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