Northern Ireland news

IRSP says it will take 'non-violent direct action' to prevent eviction

The Housing Executive has said it only evicts tenants in exceptional circumstances
Connla Young

THE IRSP has said it will take “non-violent direct action” to prevent the Housing Executive evicting a woman in rent arrears.

The party last night claimed the mother-of-one, who comes from the Divis area of west Belfast, owes the social housing body around £6,000.

It said the woman, who works in a school, fell behind in her payments during last year's summer holidays when her wages stopped and has been trying to pay off the debt at a rate of £25 a week since then.

The Housing Executive last night said “evictions are very rare and only occur where arrears are substantial”.

It revealed that the total number of people evicted due to arrears last year was 20 - up eight on the previous year.

It said just one ‘removal' last year was down to “unacceptable behaviour”.

The housing body currently has more than 86,000 tenants across the north.

The IRSP (Irish Republican Socialist Party) said it has met with the Housing Executive to discuss the woman's case and also held a protest close to her home earlier this week.

It is understood a court order for the planned eviction was obtained last month.

The IRSP said the Housing Executive has been made aware of its intentions.

Lower Falls representative Michael Kelly said: “The prospect of austerity-related evictions in 2018 is simply unacceptable.

“We are currently working for an amicable solution to the case in hand but failing this we will utilise non-violent direct action to physically prevent the forced eviction of working-class families wherever we have influence.”

A spokesman for the Housing Executive said: “A tenant is given every opportunity to repay rent arrears and we offer a range of assistance to people who accrue rent arrears.

“We also work with other agencies and local representatives to ensure a tenant is provided with proper third party advice and guidance."

The spokesman said it only evicts tenants in exceptional circumstances.

“In all cases, tenant removal will only happen when a tenant is in breach of previous agreements, usually arranged through the courts.

“Only in exceptional circumstances, for example when there is clearly no intention to pay arrears, would we seek to remove a tenant.”

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