Corporate landlord Akelius' business model allegedly inconsistent with human rights, says UN housing expert; incl. company response

In a press release dated 29 April 2020, Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, accused corporate property owner Akelius Residential of allegedly breaching human rights standards on the right to adequate housing in the UK, Canada and Germany. Its business model, she said, had led to "degradation of housing conditions, higher rents and increased risk or threat of eviction."

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Akelius to respond to the allegations. Their response is included below.

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Company response
22 May 2020

Response by Akelius

Author: Akelius

Akelius business idea is to give a better living in major metropolitan cities. This means that the company acquires old buildings, which very often have a significant maintenance need.

They are old, tired and everything but climate friendly. To allow for further decay is not sustainable, neither from a social or an environmental perspective.

Without renovations these buildings eventually become uninhabitable, leading to an increased shortage of apartments. 

The company never force any tenant from their apartment. Akelius policy is to renovate once an apartment becomes vacant. The company welcomes tenants in-place to stay as long as they want.

The Code of Conduct is the basis of Akelius´ business activities. You find the Code of Conduct on Akelius webpage https://akelius.com/en/investor/governance/code-of-conduct

Akelius was very surprised by the press release as of 29 April 2020.

Ms Farha's claims are general and referred to hearsay. No concrete cases and no facts. Akelius welcomes facts. At any time, Akelius checks individual complaints to improve tenant’s satisfaction.

We would have appreciated if she had contacted us before publication.

Regards

Ralf Spann

CEO

Akelius Residential Property AB

Article
4 May 2020

Corporate landlord is abusing human rights, says UN expert

Author: Nathaniel Barker, Inside Housing

Leilani Farha, the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing, attacked Akelius Residential Property AB’s “aggressive push for housing profits”.

She said: “Akelius’ 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.” ...

Ms Farha said Akelius’ operations in the UK, Canada and Germany breach international human rights laws on the right to adequate housing...

While acknowledging the landlord’s charity work, she said Akelius “is [...] 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...

On its website, the firm [says]: “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...

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Article
29 April 2020

Corporate landlord is abusing tenants’ human rights, says UN housing expert

Author: UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, OHCHR

Multinational corporate property owner Akelius Residential AB is breaching human rights standards with its aggressive push for housing profits in countries around the world, a UN expert said today.

“Akelius’s business model [...] has created a hostile environment for its tenants through a severe degradation of housing conditions, higher rents and increased risk or threat of eviction,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha...

Farha said she had heard of many cases where Akelius utilises an aggressive business model [...] and has told the company its operations in the UK, Canada and Germany are inconsistent with international human rights law on the right to adequate housing...

The renovations have left residents living in unsafe, construction sites for months and sometimes without running water and central heating...

“Although it does a lot for charity, Akelius’s business model is trampling on the human rights of its tenants, decreasing housing habitability, affordability and security of tenure,” Farha said.

“Commercial landlords like Akelius have an independent responsibility to respect human rights, which means that they 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,” the expert said.

Read the full post here