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Is failure to pay evicted tenant's storage costs a breach of ECHR Art. 1 Prot. No. 1?

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  • Is failure to pay evicted tenant's storage costs a breach of ECHR Art. 1 Prot. No. 1?

    This concerns a single tenant of a 1-bedroom private flat in Jersey (Channel Islands) who is on benefits and was recently evicted but couldn't afford to rehouse himself in the private sector, where rents have skyrocketed to 1,200 to 1,300 per mth (rent support for a 1-bed flat is limited to 910 per mth for benefit claimants). The person had rented in the private sector for nearly 3 decades. He was accepted onto the island's waiting list at the start of the year in the highest priority group.

    However, he was evicted from his home before he was offered a social housing 1-bed flat and therefore decided to pay to have his main items of furniture (including kitchen white goods) placed into storage temporarily rather than have to dump or sell them at short notice. If and when he is finally offered a 1-bed social housing flat, the property would come unfurnished and therefore he would face having to buy all new furniture again had he not paid to put his possessions into storage.

    He has been told by Jersey's benefits agency that they don't pay for a claimant's storage costs, which seems to be a general policy rule. There is a special payments regime where some specific things can be paid for, such as removal costs, usually by loans rather than grants, but NOT the costs of placing one's possessions in storage where one has been evicted through no fault of one's own from a property of a certain size and forced into much smaller temporary accommodation whilst awaiting an offer of social housing.

    I am just asking if anyone has any views on whether this failure to at least consider paying for a homeless person's storage costs might constitute a breach of ECHR Art. 1 of Protocol No. 1, given that most people in this situation of having to downsize would not have sufficient savings to consider paying for storage and would presumably have no choice but to dispose of much of their furniture at short notice. In addition, there is anecdotal evidence that the waiting times in Jersey for those needing 1-bed social housing homes are considerably longer than that for social housing with 2 or 3 bedrooms. Those with children are being rehoused very quickly and there are plentiful supplies of 2 and 3 bed social housing properties. However, this appears to have been achieved by giving a lower priority to the building of 1-bed flats, where the urgent demand is now at crisis levels, with hundreds now forced to live in temporary accommodation while they wait for a tiny number of new 1-bed homes to become available.

    So there appears to have been a quiet policy decision made by the Jersey government to make those in need of 1-bed homes wait much longer for rehousing than would be the case if they had needed 2 or 3-bed homes, but nobody will own up to it, although the waiting list statistics provide the proof. I would argue that victims of this apparent discriminatory policy have a right to be compensated for storage costs to avoid the forced deprivation of their possessions.

    If anyone can provide some relevant examples of ECHR or UK case law on this subject, please respond.
    Tags: None

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