Mr Shapps is quoted in the Guardian, saying that ”the process for tackling neighbours from hell takes too long” and proposes “a series of trigger offences that can be taken into account if a tenant behaves in a persistently anti-social manner”.
- A conviction for a serious offence related to housing, including violence against neighbours, drug dealing and criminal damage.
- Breach of an injunction for anti-social behaviour obtained by a landlord.
- Closing of a premises under a closure order. This could be where a property has been used for drug dealing.
Shapps goes on to say:
“All too often, efforts to tackle neighbours from hell take far too long, and it seems the needs and rights of the victims play second fiddle to those of the perpetrators”.
Surely this is great news, only last week the latest NLA Quarterly Survey demonstrated that 21 percent of landlords have experienced anti-social behaviour by tenants in some form – up 2 percent on the first quarter of 2011.
The problem is, Mr Shapps statements so far seems to be concentrating on the plight of social landlords.
Details are yet to materialise, but it looks like social landlords are to benefit from new mandatory grounds for possession.
Private landlords have long experienced problems relying on discretionary ‘Ground 14’ designed to tackle ASB.
Currently this means that private landlords must ensure there is sufficient evidence to satisfy a judge that ASB is taking place, in circumstances where those affected are likely to feel very uneasy about giving evidence against their troublesome, and potentially violent, neighbours.
If social landlords are alone granted this new power, it will be very interesting to see what happens to that 21 percent figure. As it stands to reason that evicted ‘nuisance’ social tenants will have to relocate somewhere, and rent from someone.
Here’s hoping that Mr Shapps and his colleagues plan to strengthen the hands of all landlords dealing with disruptive tenants regardless of tenure. So that we don’t see a rapid rise in ASB complaints as problem tenants are transplanted from social housing to the private sector.
UPDATE: Happily the proposals are tenure neutral meaning that private landlords will have access. The new powers will not take the form of a ‘possession ground’ or amendments to Ground 14. Instead the proposal is for a “new, clearly defined route to possession for serious housing related anti-social behaviour which has already been proven by another court”.
To make sure that you’re not caught out it is a good idea to get as much information about your prospective tenants as possible by obtaining thorough references from previous landlords, or perhaps even employing a professional referencing agency.