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by administrator @, Tuesday, April 03, 2012, 10:10


Landlords in the private rented sector face the possibility of being unable to evict tenants who fail to pay their rent or commit anti-social behaviour as a result of a ruling by the Supreme Court.

Hounslow Council had tried to evict one of its tenants, Rebecca Powell, as she owed more than £3,500 in arrears after the authority housed her in temporary accommodation after she became homeless in April 2007. She was entitled to £15,000 in housing benefit, but had not applied for it properly.

Having begun legal proceedings to evict her, the Council was prevented from doing so after Ms Powell lodged an appeal claiming that the move breached her right under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights to have respect for a person's home.

Powell's argument, heard last year by the Supreme Court was consequently upheld by Lord Hope and Lord Phillips who ruled that the Council had not considered whether it was 'proportionate' to evict Miss Powell and ordered that the eviction be quashed. The Court left open the question of whether the same principle applies in the Private rented Sector.

Now one of the country's leading bodies representing landlords in the private rented sector has argued that the case itself could set a precedent for the private rented sector as well.

Outlining the concerns of the Residential Landlords Association, policy director and solicitor, Richard Jones said: "At present landlords in the private rented sector are able to begin eviction proceedings based on a tenant breaching the terms of their contract if they fall into arrears on their rent by 2 months. Once a tenancy is ended landlords can evict using Section 21 - the so called no fault notice only ground for possession.

"Recent rulings by the Supreme Court however raise the very real prospect now that it could become all but impossible to evict a tenant given the lack of clarity over what 'proportionate' action would look like.

"I am aware of at least one case where a private tenant is relying on Article 8 to try to avoid eviction which has gone to the Appeal Court. We are waiting to see what happens in this case. Even if this does not go ahead another is going to come along and the question is going to have to be dealt with sooner or later.

"If Article 8 does apply in the Private Rented Sector small scale landlords, renting just a couple of properties, would soon hit financial crisis point if they were unable to evict a tenant who simply failed to pay their rent for two months or longer.

"Given the supply crisis in the private rented sector everything needs to be done to support and encourage new landlords to enter the market. By making evictions so difficult, you are likely to scare many off altogether.

"We very much hope that the Courts will ultimately decide that Article 8 does not apply in the Private Rented Sector. This is the Government view. However, if it does we would then call on the Government to work with the judiciary and EU allies to establish a clear definition of 'proportionate' action in this case to provide much needed certainty to the housing sector as a whole."

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