Statutes Protection from Eviction Act, 1964

AuthorBenjamin Levy
Published date01 May 1965
Date01 May 1965
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1965.tb01073.x
STATUTES
PROTECTION
FROM
EVICTION
ACT,
1964
‘(
FOR
the
first
time in our history, any landlord who evicts without
previously obtaining a
court
order
will
be doing a criminal act, which
makes him liable to
El00
fine
or
six
months’ imprisonment. That is
progress
.
.
.$,
Thus the Minister of Housing in
1964.‘
Over
580
years previously the first of the Statutes of Forcible Entry had
created just such a crime as the Minister envisaged, enacting
that
none from henceforth make any entry into any lands and tenements
but
in
case where entry is given by the law; and
in
such case not
with strong hand
nor
with multitude of people but only in peaceable
and easy manner.”
In
short, section
1
of the Protection from
Eviction Act (which imposes
a
fine
or
imprisonment
or
both
for
eviction without an order of the court) sets
no
new limit to the
landlords’ rights of recovery of possession, save only that that rare
bird peaceable re-entry without an order of the
court
is now
ensnared and brought within the sanction of the criminal law. But
it would seem that peaceable reentry was not the target of the
draftsman (draftsmen?) of the new statute. The evils popularly
subsumed under the compendious term Rachmanism may be thought
to have been the main target, and the more commonly cited
instances
of
Rachmanism have been criminal offences for many
centuries.
A
forcible entry may be
a
forte main,” by violence
either to the person
or
to the property
s;
or
it may be
a multitude
des gentz.” Moreover apart from the Statutes of Forcible Entry,
these actions would in most cases constitute
an
assault. Thus the
ordinary strong-arm man technique has been illegal since pre-
Rachman days. The only line which may not have been is the
introduction of undesirable neighbours. But it is almost certain
that this technique remains unaffected
by
the new Act as it would be
virtually impossible to discharge the burden of proof in criminal
proceedings where there is
so
weak a chain of causation as the
undesirable neighbour tactic involves. This kind of harassment has
yet to be proscribed.
The true effect of section
1
of the Act is psychological: the law
of
assault and the Statutes of Forcible Entry had long ere
1964
been
in abeyance in relation to leasehold property. The instilled police-
man’s respect
for
private property
)’
has bred many generations
of
policemen who will not
cross
the threshold of
a
dwelling-house if it
can possibly be avoided. Now the
1964
Act revives the concept that
1
H.C.
Deb.,
Vol.
701, col.
443.
2
Statute
of
Forcible Entry, 1381. 5,‘Ric.
‘2
c.
1.
8
3
Bac.Abr. (7th ed.) 716,
7,
Tit. Forcible Entry and Detainer.”
336

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