London riots: no to tenant evictions!
August 18, 2011
No Evictions of Tenants – We all have a Right to a Home!
Statement from Hackney Housing Group and Haringey Housing Action Group
We condemn the use of evictions by Wandsworth Council as a punishment measure for families who have criminal charges against them after the riots. In the first place, Wandsworth Council has issued this eviction notice before the person in question has even been convicted of an offence. Secondly, evictions must not be used as a punishment. This is inherently unfair; it is only council and possibly housing association tenants that will be evicted not private tenants or home owners.
The government says that people who allow their children to take part in riots don’t deserve to live in housing ‘subsidised’ by the tax payer. However, a council tenant is not ‘subsidised’. They are merely paying a reasonable rent for their home to the local authority, unlike a private tenant who is paying an unreasonable rent to a private landlord. Who is subsidising who?
Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister wants to change the law so that council tenants convicted of offences which are not connected to where they live can be evicted in new fast track procedures, in addition to fast track evictions already planned for people who behave anti socially in or around their homes. We agree harassment and anti social behavior needs to be tackled but we think that evictions are a blunt and lazy way of doing this. Councils already have legislation which they can use to tackle anti social behaviour, but eviction is currently the last step after all else has failed.
We call on local councils and housing associations who do not agree with these proposals to state publicly that they will not be using these measures against their tenants. We call on people in Wandsworth and beyond to support and defend their neighbours if they are targeted with eviction notices by their councils. In Hackney and Haringey, Housing Action Groups have used delegations to the housing office and town hall to put pressure on the council to house members of their group. This is the kind of support and action we must take to show that these measures are not acceptable and will not be workable. Council tenants must not be punished twice: once by the courts and then by the council making them homeless.