News04/05/20by Nathaniel Barker
A multinational corporate landlord with more than 2,000 homes in the UK is abusing human rights around the world, the UN’s housing spokesperson has declared.
Corporate landlord is abusing human rights, says UN expert #ukhousing
A multinational corporate landlord with more than 2,000 homes in the UK is abusing human rights around the world, the UN’s housing spokesperson has declared #ukhousing
Multinational corporate landlord with 44,000 homes is breaching human rights, says @leilanifarha #ukhousing
In a scathing intervention, Leilani Farha, the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing, attacked Akelius Residential Property AB’s “aggressive push for housing profits”.
She said: “Akelius’s business model, driven by the desire to maximise profits, has created a hostile environment for its tenants through a severe degradation of housing conditions, higher rents and increased risk or threat of eviction.”
Swedish-listed Akelius owns more than 44,000 flats in major cities across Europe and North America – including 2,242 in London.
It specialises on mid-market rents and does not currently have any clear involvement in the UK social housing sector.
According to Akelius’ global accounts, it made a £405m profit before tax in 2019 with a portfolio valued at close to £10.5bn.
Ms Farha said Akelius’ operations in the UK, Canada and Germany breach international human rights laws on the right to adequate housing.
“I have been told that Akelius purchases apartment blocks, often with tenants already living in them, and then undertakes renovations to communal areas and vacant apartments within the block, regardless of need,” she claimed.
“These renovations are a vehicle for Akelius to charge substantially increased rents to both new and existing tenants, enabling it to circumvent vital rent control regulations which commonly allow for above-control rent increases where modernisation works are undertaken.”
Ms Farha added that the renovations have left residents living in unsafe construction sites for months and said some have been threatened with eviction to allow more works to take place.
While acknowledging the landlord’s charity work, she said Akelius “is trampling on the human rights of its tenants, decreasing housing habitability, affordability and security of tenure”.
Akelius is 79% owned by charity The Akelius Foundation.
Commercial landlords “have an independent responsibility to respect human rights” and so “must conduct human rights due diligence in order to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address adverse impacts on the right to housing”, Ms Farha said.
UN special rapporteurs report to the global body’s Human Rights Council. They work on a voluntary basis and are not paid a salary by the UN.
Akelius has not responded to requests for comment.
On its website, the firm claims to be “world leading in upgrading apartments”, adding: “The Akelius mission is to provide better living. Vacant apartments are renovated to the ‘first class’ standard – meaning finishes and craftsmanship akin to newly built, high-end condominiums.”
A spokesperson for Ms Farha said Akelius was given a 48-hour period to respond to her claims before she issued her statement to the media, in line with UN protocols. No response was received.
She added that Ms Farha remains interested in hearing from Akelius.
Update: at 9.25am 04/04/20 more information about Ms Farha’s attempts to contact Akelius were added to the story.
Sign up for our daily newsletter
Click her for the original source of this story.