Mother of man arrested in riots is served with eviction notice

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The Independent Online

The mother of a man alleged to have been involved in the riots in London has become the first person in the country to be served with an eviction notice in relation to the violence.

Wandsworth Council announced yesterday that it was evicting one of its tenants, saying it was part of a drive to take "tough action against tenants or members of their households who were directly involved in the disturbances".

The notice was served after the son appeared in court in connection with the riots which spread across the capital. The family cannot be named for legal reasons. The notice is the first step towards an eviction.

The council apply to the courts and the tenant will be able to argue her case. The final decision resting with a county court judge.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, gave his backing yesterday to councils seeking to evict tenants over the violence, saying that people who "loot and pillage their own community should be shown the door".

Mr Cameron said he thought evictions were a way of "enforcing responsibility in our society". He told the BBC that people who could face difficulties as a result of their eviction "should have thought of that before they started burgling". He said: "Obviously, that will mean they've got to be housed somewhere else – they'll have to find housing in the private sector. And that will be tougher for them.

"For too long we've taken a too-soft attitude towards people that loot and pillage their own community. If you do that you should lose your right to the sort of housing that you've had at subsidised rates."

Stephen Howlett, chief executive of housing association, the Peabody Trust, said last night he believed the courts would find eviction of tenants disproportionate. "We want the strongest action to be taken against those involved, but our preference is for the criminal justice system to be the focus."

He said the measures risked pushing tenants further into poverty.

"These people have to live somewhere, so if they are evicted you risk just exporting the problem."

The leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, said: "We are determined to take the strongest possible action against any tenant or member of their household responsible for the shocking behaviour perpetrated on local homes and businesses this week.

"Our officers will continue to work with the courts to establish the identities of other council tenants or members of their households as more cases are processed in the coming days and weeks."

He said that tenants had agreed not to take part in activities that could jeopardise their housing, by signing their tenancy agreement. "It does not just apply to the mother, but the entire household," he said.

Councils including Westminster, Greenwich, Hammersmith, Fulham and Nottingham and Salford have all said they will consider evicting their tenants if they are found to have been involved in the rioting.

Yesterday, Manchester City Council said the family of a 12-year-old boy photographed stealing a £7.49 bottle of wine during riots in Manchester were facing the possibility of eviction. A spokesman said: "We will not tolerate any of our tenants being involved in anti-social behaviour, which is detrimental to the city."

The council has flagged similar action against tenants who appear in court, saying it sends a signal that violence will not be tolerated.