Wandsworth Council backs down over threat to evict innocent family

19 January 2012

Today Wandsworth Council announced it has backed down over plans to make Liberty client Maite de la Calva and her young daughter homeless. The authority had previously threatened to evict the family if Ms de la Calva’s son was convicted of a crime committed during last summer’s riots. He was jailed earlier this month but the Council has now agreed not to pursue eviction in the courts following a meeting with Liberty.

Ms de la Calva’s son was arrested and charged following the disorder last August. He had moved out of his mother’s property earlier in the year but she was still served with a Notice of Seeking Possession by Wandsworth Council shortly after, stating she was likely to have breached her tenancy agreement as a result. The authority vowed to apply for an order of possession, evicting the innocent Ms de la Calva and her daughter, if her son was convicted.

The threat came despite Ms de la Calva’s contribution to her local area over the last five years. She is described as a credit to her housing estate by neighbours and spends her limited spare time volunteering with a youth charity and working with domestic violence victims. Ms de la Calva has committed no crime herself and would not have faced such a threat had she lived in a mortgaged house. Liberty agreed to represent her and fight any cynical attempt by Wandsworth Council to punish her and her daughter for her son’s conviction. Other authorities have since opted to follow Wandsworth’s example by using tenancy agreements and housing legislation to bully other vulnerable residents.

Emma Norton, Liberty’s lawyer representing Ms de la Calva, said:

“Wandsworth Council has finally seen sense and we’re delighted Maite and her daughter aren’t facing a future without a roof over their heads.

“But the appalling and heartless way the authority threatened this innocent family with eviction in the first place still beggars belief.

“Regardless of wealth everyone is equal before the law and we’d urge any tenants subjected to such bullying by other authorities to contact Liberty.”

Contact: Liberty press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. There is a court order in place preventing photographic identification of Ms de la Calva’s daughter.  In addition we ask that the young girl is not named.  Thank you for your co-operation.

2. It is one of the standard terms of a Wandsworth tenancy agreement that the tenant, lodgers, friends, relatives, visitors and any other person living at the property refrain from doing anything which interferes with the “convenience” of other people living in Wandsworth. The Housing Act 1985 also suggests a basis for eviction where the tenant or a person living in or visiting her household has been convicted of an indictable offence.