Unlawful evictions and the olympics

An alarming trend has swept across London, particularly in areas which are close to where the Olympic Games will be held. It seems landlords in these areas (particularly in East London) are evicting the tenants they already have in their properties in order to bring new tenants in for the Olympic Games, which will allow landlords to rake in greater profits.

A charity called Shelter, which specialises in housing, has commented on the rise in the number of illegal evictions by landlords. It has also seen a rise in the number of landlords who are acting badly.

This type of behaviour is not limited to wrongful evictions; rental prices have also soared in an attempt by landlords to fully maximise the use of their properties. Property companies have stated that some properties that were originally being charged at £350 per week are currently being advertised as being charged at £6000 per week.

The problem is that if this is the response we are witnessing at the moment, the situation is only going to get worse once the Games get closer.

Greedy landlords who want to take advantage of the profits the Olympic Games could bring are evicting their current tenants with little or no notice. Some people are given as little as 2 weeks notice.

The Protection from Eviction Act 1977 protects tenants who are unfairly treated. Under this statute, it is a criminal offence to evict a tenant without proper notice. It is also an offence to interfere with their residential peace and comfort of the property, in an attempt to force them into giving up occupation of that property. Housing Minister Grant Shapps warned landlords that these actions were criminal offences, which could mean landlords receive up to 2 years custodial sentencing.

Organisations like the National Landlords Association have outwardly condemned the practice, stating that not only is the behaviour of these landlords abhorrent, they are also disadvantaging themselves in the long run. This is because although evicting their current tenants in favour of new tenants who are looking to rent because of the Olympic Games may be beneficial economically; this is definitely only a short-term profit turner. Therefore, although they might turnover a decent profit during this period, they will have potentially lost a long-term tenant. Once the games are over, and the new, short-term tenants have moved on, these landlords will have to turn to the market again in an attempt to find new, longer-term tenants.

Despite the fact that the current economic climate is not great, and so people everywhere, in every industry, are looking for opportunities to turn over any profit they can, this type of behaviour is pushing above and beyond what is acceptable. Not only is it not acceptable to the tenants landlords are evicting unfavourable, it is also unfair on the new tenants who are being charged £6000 per week!

A regulatory body needs to step in to stamp down on this sort of behaviour, otherwise it seems like it could spiral further out of control as the Games are fast approaching. Landlords who are currently treating their tenants like this should be made an example out of, in the hope that this may act as a deterrent for landlords who are thinking about doing this in the future.

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May 20, 2012