Using eviction to combat housing-related crime and anti-social behaviour in South Africa and the Netherlands

Authors Michael Vols, Sarah Fick

ISSN: 1996-2177
Affiliations: Chair in Public Order Law, Faculty of Law, University of Groningen; Lecturer, Department of Private Law, University of Cape Town
Source: South African Law Journal, Volume 134 Issue 2, 2017, p. 327 – 360


This article focuses on eviction used by local authorities to combat crime and anti-social behaviour in the Netherlands and South Africa. It further analyses how these practices relate to the right of respect for the home of the evictees, as laid down in treaties and national legislation. The results of a functional comparative analysis indicate that both countries use eviction to address crime, and primarily apply this instrument to address drug-related crime. The analysis identifies three ways of using criminal activities as grounds for eviction. First, authorities refer to crime committed by the evictees themselves as a reason for the eviction. Secondly, they refer to crime committed by third parties as a reason to evict residents. Thirdly, criminal activity is used as a justification for mass evictions of residents. In both countries eviction is qualified as a serious interference with the right to respect for the home. The article concludes, however, that the use of eviction in cases regarding crime does not automatically result in a violation of this right. Local authorities and courts in both countries seem to have accepted the growing role of evictions to combat crime and anti-social behaviour.