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Action for Housing presses for legal protection against forced evictions

Photo by Eyleen Gomez.

Action for Housing said there is a pressing need for vulnerable tenants in post-war private dwellings to be offered legal protection against forced evictions.

The group made the statement after establishing that a number of occupants in the Devonport Apartments face being made homeless if plans for a 22-story residential block between Corral Road and Smith Dorien Avenue are given the green light.

The project, which includes refurbishing unused areas of the city walls to create green spaces, would require the demolition of the Devonport building.

“We have ascertained that there are 19 flats which are in occupation and 25 which are vacant,” Action for Housing said.

“Of the 19 which are in occupation, seven of the occupiers are on the Government housing waiting list whilst 12 are not eligible to apply for government housing.”

“Therefore, the tenants of these 12 flats, which include families with children, would be made homeless unless the landlords give them alternative accommodation.”

“These tenants could also rent elsewhere but given the exorbitant rents in the private sector it is most likely they would not be able to afford them.”

“Cases like these highlights how vulnerable tenants who live in post-war private dwellings are and the pressing need there is to give them a reasonable measure of protection under the law.”

Action for Housing referred to a report titled ‘Guidelines for the Implementation of the Right to Adequate Housing’ produced after the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council in early 2020.

Although the guidelines cover many areas on housing, the group quoted one of them that states: “States must recognise the progressive realisation of the right to housing as a legal obligation under domestic law, employing the reasonableness standard developed by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which means that States have an obligation to fulfil the right to housing for all as swiftly and efficiently as possible.”

Action for Housing added: “We are in election year and politicians, and those aspiring to join their ranks are, or should be, more sensitive and receptive to the needs of the general public.”

“Consequently, they should seriously consider introducing measures that would enhance the right to housing including the protection of tenants from forced evictions in situations such as the present one, in which case the landlord must, by law, offer alternative accommodation and suitable compensation to those affected.”

“Forced evictions which would end up in homelessness should not, and must not, be allowed.”

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