United Kingdom

#Mots-clés : Eviction Dernière mise à jour le 9 June 2019
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History of Towns – Heritage

Urban Habitat

The United Kingdom is witnessing a great wave of urban renovation that is chasing people away from the Centre towns. An association was created in London in order that renovation should not be done to the detriment of the habitants or small size enterprises: Elephant Amenity Network

Rural Habitat


Right to housing


It is in 1919 that the English states started to take care f lodging. Before the responsibility was left in the hands of the local community. The law on lodging was outlined by the law of 1949 (Housing Act) (Housing Scotland act in 1974), that gave the possibility to every citizen of Britain to register his name on the awaiting list and to live for life in a lodging HLM once it has been obtained. In 1981, not less than 32% of English homes lived in Social lodgings. Nevertheless, since 1979, there was a little progressive retreat on the part of the government as concerns social lodgings considered too costly, and welcome to the era of opposition to the state. Between 1980 and 1984, laws were promoted in order that the tenants could buy their Social lodgings (Right to Buy). As from 1988, societies in charge of lodgings were even authorized to transfer their lodgings to more cordial sectors.

The law of 1988 the exclusive rights to construct, they had since 1890. In fact the legislature outlined the difference between (providers), and the facilitators (enablers), the local powers, to who a call is made for them to concentrate on the running of their parks and the evaluation of the local needs in terms of lodging.

As from 1997, the local powers, controllers of social lodgings were called upon to review their lodgings to 200.000 yearly! In reality the government intends to see its lodging parks entirely renovated. In the absence of financial means to carryout these renovations, the common ownerships had to leave their lodgings to partnership sectors.

Researchers in Britain use double phenomenon to answer to a question. In one hand, refusal of the public local sector in proportion to the national parks, on the other hand, the socio-economic profile evolution of tenant’s pauperization.

(Source : David FEE, 2010) (1)


The rights to lodging cannot be registered in the constitution of England because the United Kingdom does not have a written constitution Nevertheless the rights to lodging of the homeless is drawn by the national legislation. In accordance to article 192 (3) of the Law on lodgings of 1996, the local authorities must obtain a convenient lodging for candidates admitted for help. Groups with priority needs are defined in article of the1996 law and was seen by the 2002 Order of Homeless (recognised Instrument 2002 n ° 2051). Article 193 (2) defines the rights and recognizes obligations of local powers so as to provide a lodging to the homeless, in a double condition to define the existing priority needs and provide solutions to this homelessness.

The right to lodging is equally to be fulfilled. It consists of an effective procedure which the candidates can ask the local authority to revise their decision, if judged not satisfactory in the domain of rights, can call on the country’s court (articles 202 and 204 of the 1996 law).

The United Nations signed but has not yet ratified the Revised European Social Charter. He has not signed nor ratified the additional protocol authorizing a system of collective calls.

At the same time, underfunded local councils, rising wealth inequalities and significant cuts to the social security regime are contributing to an unprecedented housing crisis.

Forced Evictions


Land rights

Land grabbing

Role of the State in the process of land’s financialization

Take, as an approximate indication, the following two sets of estimates, assembled at the beginning and end respectively of the period under consideration. In the mid to late 1970s, the public sector was estimated by Massey and Catalano (1978:6) to own “about 19 per cent of total acreage” in Britain. In 2016, the equivalent share for England and Wales is estimated to have fallen to just 6% (Evans 2016). (7)

Such treatments, focused on disposal, have to a certain extent been shaped and even sometimes effected by means of formal government legislation. The clearest examples of the active role of legislation in regard to disposal came right at the outset of the period we are interested in. The Housing Act and the Local Government, Planning and Land Act, both passed in 1980, truly set the stage in no uncertain terms for what would ensue over the next three and a half decades. The first of these two statutes activated Margaret Thatcher’s famous Right to Buy initiative, facilitating the discounted sale of council houses to tenants, and was lauded by the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine, as “lay[ing] the basis for perhaps as profound a social revolution as any in our history. Certainly no single piece of legislation has enabled the transfer of so much capital wealth from the State to the people” (HC Deb 15 January 1980, c1443). The second statute not only required local councils to publish registers of surplus land holdings but, by means of the new Public Request to Order Disposal mechanism, gave central government the explicit power to compel disposal thereof—a power that in 2011 was retooled and renamed, somewhat euphemistically, as the Community Right to Reclaim Land (as we shall see, the community’s rights are actually extremely limited), and that in 2014 was complemented by the new Right to Contest, which enables anyone “to challenge government to sell land or property if [they] believe it’s not needed and could be put to better economic use” (7)

But, generally speaking, disposal has been ordained and effected more through other, non-legislative forms of influence. The prime minister’s office and the Treasury, in essence, have increasingly forcefully pressured the various (other) holders of public land to purge their portfolios of surplus sites, with the pressure being applied at times mainly on local authorities and at times mainly on government departments (White 2011:13). Indeed, the desired ability effectively to apply such pressure helps to explain in large measure the push for recentralization of estate oversight that has characterized the period from 2000 onwards. Thus when, in 2009, the Treasury made its call for a “new central property function”, it specifically emphasized that such a unit would be able to “challenge departments in identifying underutilized and surplus assets, and would oversee the implementation of asset disposals across government” (UK Treasury 2009:62) (7)


Yet, for all such legacy targets, the Treasury insisted that existing incentives were “not sufficiently effective” (2009:61). More incentivization was required. This would materialize two years later, with the government targeting the release by 2015 of enough land to build up to 100,000 new homes, and insisting that departments configure their estate “strategies” accordingly (DCLG 2012:7). If being “held to account” by the Cabinet Committee were not incentive enough, meanwhile, Chancellor George Osborne threatened in 2012 to take sites without compensation where things were not moving sufficiently quickly (Ross 2015). A new target—land disposal for 150,000 new homes by 2020—was subsequently established in March 2015. (7)

For one thing, just because the government today compels disposals from the public estate on housing-development grounds does not mean that houses actually get built (still less that they are “affordable”). (…) The DCLG’s defense, revealingly, was that “The target was not to build homes; it was to release land”. For another thing, and more fundamentally, it cannot be overemphasized that this ongoing program of releasing land for homebuilding is specifically—perhaps even first and foremost—about land privatization. (…) Land sites were not being simply released but rather were “being released to the market” (DCLG 2012:6, 9) (7)


Central government has not only privatized public land but has also widely—if not wholly—privatized the processes whereby land for disposal is identified, marketed and sold. (…) Private-sector “expertise” has been embedded in the process of public estate rationalization ever since, both in terms of individual actors being called upon—as in the health service example—and, less conspicuously but arguably no less materially, in terms of the particular expert knowledges mobilized to justify estate purging. (…) It says that rationalization, specifically through “transferring assets to the private sector”, supports economic growth. How does the GPU know this ? Because, “in January 2013 Knight Frank published a report showing that, in London, rationalisation of the government estate reverberated through the property and construction sector to stimulate the London economy by around £3 billion” (GPU 2013:14). And what or who is Knight Frank? A London-based real estate agent ! (7)

Vulnerable groups

Interesting practices


Housing Market

According to INSEE, in 2007, 71% of households in the UK were homeowners (EU average = 65%). (4)

Quality of Housing

The 2015/16 English Housing Survey found that the private rented sector had the highest proportion of homes with at least one indicator of poor housing (40%). The Survey recorded that 28% of private sector rented homes failed the decent home standard in 2015.

There are statutory obligations on most landlords to keep in repair the structure and exterior of their properties, and to repair installations for the supply of water, heating and sanitation. However, provisions requiring landlords to ensure that their properties are fit for human habitation have ceased to have effect as a result of annual rent limits.

Currently being considered in Parliament, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19 is seeking to extend the statutory obligations to cover almost all landlords and to modernise the fitness for habitation test. Where a landlord fails to let and maintain a property that is fit for human habitation, the Bill would give tenants a right to take action in the courts.

The Bill extends to England and Wales but will only apply to tenancies in England. Wales already enjoys similar provisions in relation to housing fitness in the Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016.

Source : Housing Rights Watch

Informal Settlements / Slum / Homeless


We are talking about 80.000 homeless youths every year in the United Kingdom. Say 1 out of every 100 will experience homelessness. They live in charitable homes or sleep on friend’s chairs. More often, the cause is related to family breakups but also inter-family violence or other factors such as mental disorder, the lack of formation or employment, the release from prison. (Source: DEPAUL UK) (4)


The financial year 2010/11 saw a 10% increase in homelessness acceptances by local authorities, representing the first financial year increase since 2003/4. Homelessness acceptances continued to rise over the next three years but fell by 3% between 2012/13 and 2013/14. The 2014/15 financial year recorded a further increase, with acceptances 36% higher than in 2009/10. The 2015/16 financial year saw acceptances increase by a further 6% on 2014/15 and the 2016/17 financial year recorded a 1% increase on the previous year. (Source: Official statistics).

According to Crisis’s Homelessness Monitor: England 2017, 64% of councils are struggling to find social tenancies for homeless people, while half find it ‘very difficult’ to assist applicants into privately rented accommodation, particularly in the case of young people and large families, with 85% of responding councils having difficulties assisting single people aged 25-34 into accommodation and 88% finding it difficult to house large families.

The National Audit Office has warned that homelessness is ‘likely to have been driven by welfare reforms’ (September 2017). They also observed that the ending of private sector tenancies is the biggest single driver of statutory homelessness in England. This constitutes a violation of Britain’s global human rights commitments as international law is clear that nobody should be rendered homeless as a result of an eviction.

Following the lead of Scotland (since 2012) and Wales (since 2015), the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (in force from April 2018) creates a new duty to prevent homelessness for all eligible applicants threatened with homelessness in England. Everyone who is homeless or at risk of homelessness will have access to meaningful help, irrespective of their priority need status, as long as they are eligible for assistance. Under the Act, housing authorities also have the duty to address any support needs of individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and their family members, including by coordinating with relevant agencies and department.


In Scotland local authorities have a duty towards all unintentionally homeless households irrespective of whether they are in priority need.

The legislation for homelessness in Scotland is the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987. A major amendment in the Homelessness etc. (Scotland) Act 2003 abolished the priority need criteria with effect from 2012. As a result of this Act, local authorities have a duty to find permanent accommodation for all applicants who are unintentionally homeless.

Should an applicant be assessed to have become homeless or threatened with homelessness intentionally, a local authority has a duty to provide advice and assistance. They must also provide temporary accommodation for long enough to give the applicant a reasonable opportunity to find accommodation of their own.

The Private Housing Tenancies (Scotland) Act 2016 distinguishes between ‘mandatory’ and ‘discretionary’ grounds of eviction; in the latter cases the landlord has to prove that the circumstances exist but the court will only grant the order for the recovery of possession if it considers it is reasonable to do so..


The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 introduced a duty on local authorities to provide housing advice and assistance to everyone within their local area, regardless of whether or not they are homeless or threatened with homelessness. These provisions are focused on getting local authorities, in partnership with other relevant bodies, to prevent and relieve homelessness wherever possible.

Local authorities have a duty to help secure accommodation for all applicants assessed as homeless for a period of 56 days. After this period there is a continuing duty to secure accommodation for unintentionally homeless households in priority need.


The governing legislation for homelessness in Northern Ireland is the Housing (Northern Ireland) Order 1988. In addition to the three tests of a) homelessness or threatened with homelessness (within 28 days), b) intentionality and c) priority need, Northern Ireland has an extended test of eligibility for assistance. As well as covering matters related to the applicant’s immigration status, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive can deem someone to be ineligible as a result of ‘unacceptable behaviour’ in a previously held NIHE tenancy.

Prior to an assessment being completed, local authorities have an interim duty to secure accommodation for any applicant likely to be in priority need. An eligible applicant with priority need who has become homeless or threatened with homelessness intentionally is entitled to temporary accommodation for long enough to give the applicant a reasonable opportunity to find accommodation of their own, as well as being entitled to advice and assistance.

Source : Housing Rights Watch





Bibliography & Sitography

  1. FEE David, «Le logement social en Angleterre : trente ans de déclin», Informations sociales 3/2010 (n°159), p.80-89. URL :
  2. FEANTSA Network
  3. INSEE, 2007
  4. CECODHAS, Report 2012
  5. Brett Christophers, The State and Financialization of Public Land in the United Kingdom, 2016 –


Major Problems


  • At the end of 2011 the number of beneficiaries to lodging had reached 4, 95 million, a new record.
  • Persons asking for this lodgings are not only without jobs but also workers with very low salaries. A home of four, renting a house and has a job can receive this favor.

Major claims

Video of the association “La Chaîne” : “European Coalition of Housing Rights and the Right to the City in ATHENS 21 and 22 June 2015” (Part 3)

List of social movements

  • DEPAUL UK = an organism that principally works to help the youths faced with lodging related problems, joblessness, and poverty. In one hand they propose immediate solutions, housing youths they find on the streets, on the other they put into action, preventive programs against what may lead the youths astray.  DEPAUL WebsiteContact
  • REIDVALE HOUSING ASSOCIATION LTD = A non-profit making Scottish association created and controlled by the local residents. They provide community lodgings (Glasgow region). They help in renovation and building of affordable houses while paying attention to the development of their community.  REIDVALE Website – Contact – Source d’info : Fiche DPH.
  • ACTION HOUSING AND SUPPORT LTD = an agency that supports lodging and the most vulnerable persons in Yorkshire and the Midlands since 1981.Amongst the helped persons, ex-convicts, people with mental problems or troubles. Website – Les contacter via leur Site.
  • BUILDING AND SOCIAL HOUSING FOUNDATION (BSHF) = An independent foundation founded in 1976 that works at the same time for the United       Kingdom and abroad inorder to promote innovative solutions as concerns housing as well the exchange of information and good practices, The carryout research, lobbying, and hand over the World Habitat Awards.WebsiteContact.
  • TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ASSOCIATION = an association of action and reflection which aims at putting social justice and the environment, top priorities in any political consideration. Three great duty lines: a descent lodging for all, – the communities who partake in decision taking on issues concerning them. – Town planning. WebsiteLes contacter.
  • JUST SPACE =Groups of local communities working for town planning in London Just Space is a vast network of volunteers and local communities who work together to influence planning strategies put in place in the level of regions, surrounding and neighborhoods. The objective is to inform and support the local communities in order that their contributions to planning strategies can be effective and felt. Website