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  • Series: Elgar Land and Housing Law and Policy series x
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Edited by Padraic Kenna, Sergio Nasarre-Aznar, Peter Sparkes and Christoph U. Schmid

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Edited by Padraic Kenna, Sergio Nasarre-Aznar, Peter Sparkes and Christoph U. Schmid

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Padraic Kenna

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Jana Verstraete, Pascal De Decker and Diederik Vermeir

The EU Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) 2012 shows 0.27 per cent of the Belgian population had moved in the preceding five-year period because of an eviction. Regrettably, with this record, Belgium ranks in third place for the highest rate of evictions among the 28 countries of the European Union. Despite this ranking, the extent and nature of evictions remain a blind spot in Belgium. Twenty years ago, a ‘General Report on Poverty’ criticized the lack of official data on the number of evictions. In 2005, the same critique was raised by the research agency charged with alleviating poverty, social insecurity, and social exclusion. After yet another decade, not much has changed. Data on the matter is both limited and fragmented. Hence, a clear picture of the number of evictions, the profile of those evicted, and the housing paths following an eviction is indeterminate. In this contribution, an attempt is made to consolidate existing data and to shed light on this phenomenon. As a background to the research, the chapter starts with a brief discussion of the Belgian housing market and Belgian housing policies. Thereafter an overview of the different eviction procedures that apply for different situations is provided including: judicial procedures to evict owner-occupiers, social and private renters, and squatters; temporary dispossessions in the case of family disputes and administrative eviction procedures related to housing quality. The chapter then elaborates on the judicial eviction of both owner-occupiers and renters. A discussion on the extent of the problem for these tenure types as well as the profile of those involved, their rehousing trajectories and risk factors for evictions is then provided. An outline of a limited number of ‘good practices’ in preventing evictions or in mitigating its harmful consequences is presented. The chapter concludes with some final observations on the issue.

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Marc Uhry

France maintains the essential elements of a classic welfare state model, with extensive measures protecting borrowers and tenants’ rights, social allowances, and a relatively large social housing stock. This is combined with a significant political commitment to universal equality, although in practice this is not always achieved. Indeed, while systematic policies seek to prevent and alleviate the effects of evictions, France has experienced an increase in evictions over the past two decades. This leads to a ‘French paradox’ – a country where poor households experience relatively lower housing costs overburden, but are more often in rent arrears, and more often evicted through a long process. Yet, despite this high level of evictions, this does not necessarily lead to homelessness, but homeless people have often experienced an eviction.

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Christoph U Schmid and Sofija Nikolic

Germany is a federal republic consisting of sixteen federal states. Most of the legislative and administrative powers related to housing were transferred from the federation to the federal states in the 2007 constitutional reform. As to the tenure structure, more than half of the whole housing stock is rented (among which about 5 per cent is social rented housing), while owner-occupied housing represents only 42.3 per cent. Although the right to housing is not an individually enforceable right, persons threatened with eviction may resort to various protection mechanisms, and there are administrative precautions for the prevention of homelessness after an eviction. On the one hand, the court is obliged to inform the local social authority responsible for housing homeless people about the start of eviction proceedings. The same obligation falls on a bailiff before the execution of an eviction order. On the other hand, according to the police, security and regulatory laws of the federal states, municipalities have a duty to provide temporary accommodation for evicted people.

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Nóra Teller, Eszter Somogyi and Nóra Tosics

The financial crisis of 2008 greatly increased the vulnerability of many households in Hungary. Beyond the growth of poverty risk in general, there has also been a dramatic increase in the number of severely materially deprived people. Austerity measures have increased the level of poverty, as has the shift to workfare. There are also substantial affordability problems: in 2013, the share of those who had fallen behind with utility or loan repayments was approximately 26 per cent of the total population. The increase in eviction figures also points to growing housing insecurity in general: in 2012, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) reported 966 evictions from municipal rentals and the judicial executors performed approximately 500 evictions in the same year. In 2016, the figure of evictions grew to over 1 700. Eviction processes based on execution procedures for outstanding payments are quasi-automated, which leaves less room for indebted households to react and to turn the process around. The social protection system seems to work only limitedly for vulnerable households; housing allowance is not high enough to prevent the accumulation of housing-related debts. The arrears management system also fails to prevent evictions even in the case of relatively low amounts of arrears, and the central programme was ceased in 2015. Social work is not proactive and there is lack of cooperation between social services and private and public landlords. Indebted households, with foreign currency based mortgage loans, have received assistance through various grants and schemes, but the general housing affordability challenge still prevails. These phenomena seem to have exacerbated in the past few years and there is a lack of policy change in 2017. All of these factors bring about an increase in housing insecurity for the most vulnerable.

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Padraic Kenna

Evictions in Ireland are a socially and politically emotive issue. Ireland experienced a major banking and economic crisis following a period of reckless lending between 1997 and 2007. The consequent banking collapse and associated unemployment led to a steep rise in mortgage arrears, and actions for possessions, which peaked in 2014. Some 30 000 households with arrears over two years face inevitable repossession. Irish constitutional law requires that any eviction be in accordance with the law on mortgage, rental and other repossessions, although human rights issues are not often considered. Most evictions are from private rented housing, with a six-fold increase in eviction-related cases between 2010–2015. There is a small social rented sector in Ireland, where some evictions take place. Overall, a shortage of housing for rent, or purchase, results in fierce competition for any available housing, and homelessness is consistently increasing, largely among those evicted from private rented housing. Properly addressing the extent of mortgage arrears and the position of households in long-term arrears has presented challenges for legislators, policy makers and Irish courts.

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Elena Bargelli and Giulia Donadio

Evictions in Italy have recently acquired primary importance on the political agenda and in public debate due to a dramatic surge in ouster proceedings from rented and privately owned residential tenures. This chapter starts with an overview of the eviction policy in the Italian legal system. It focuses on the socioeconomic factors related to evictions and the measures designed to prevent arrears, cease evictions from owned primary residences, as well as measures that postpone evictions from rented primary residences. Against this backdrop, the chapter then focuses on the right to housing as a fundamental right, as articulated as an expression of the Italian constitutional principles of social solidarity (Article 2) and equality (Article 3). The chapter subsequently examines the procedures leading to eviction in particular areas (mortgaged properties, rented housing, unauthorised occupancies), and clarifies their respective procedural phases. The chapter then identifies various common risk factors for evictions and provides a brief case-law summary in order to highlight the existence of best practices in response to increasing eviction proceedings in Italy.

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Michel Vols

This chapter assesses the number of evictions in the Netherlands as well as the legal protection offered against eviction. Data shows that approximately 20 000 eviction judgments are given in the social rental sector every year. The main reason is rent arrears. The data also shows that approximately one-third of these judgments are actually executed. Evictions do take place in the private rental sector as well, but clear data is lacking. Although private rental tenants enjoyed the same level of tenure security as those in the social rental sector, recent legislation has introduced short-term leases and made the eviction of private rental tenants easier. In the owner-occupied sector, thousands of evictions occur every year, but precise data is lacking. The main reason is mortgage arrears. Another cause of evictions is administrative closures of premises due to drug-related crime. Research has found that local authorities close hundreds of residential properties each year. This chapter shows that Dutch law provides people at risk of eviction with robust legal protection. Under Dutch law, they are entitled to have the proportionality of the eviction assessed by a court. Nonetheless, quantitative analysis of eviction litigation finds that in most cases, proportionality defences do not have a significant impact.