03 Apr 23
NRLA recommendations on anti-social behaviour will be adopted by the government in what is a huge win for the association and landlords in general. Chief executive Ben Beadle explains what new powers landlords will be given and what this means for you and your business.
Anti-social behaviour blights communities and ruins lives. Anti-social tenants can be a huge headache for landlords as well as causing misery to fellow tenants and neighbours, many of whom are too frightened to speak out.
With the proposed abolition of the so-called ‘no fault’ eviction, otherwise known as Section 21, it was feared landlords would be left high and dry when it came to tackling problem tenants, with alternative routes for possession relying on a criminal conviction.
However the government has this week pledged to make it quicker and easier to evict where there is evidence of anti-social behaviour – adopting a wide-ranging number of NRLA proposals, including plans to severely curtail the notice period for anti-social behaviour evictions to just two weeks.
Tackling anti-social behaviour swiftly and effectively has been one of the key pillars of the NRLA’s campaigning on rental reform, so the Government’s pledge to arm landlords with tools to ensure that anti-social tenants face the consequences of their actions is music to my ears – as well as testament to our relentless campaigning on behalf of members.
This follows on from my meetings with Secretary of State Michael Gove and Housing Ministers Rachel Maclean, and the extensive briefings, meetings and discussions had with their officials and the Prime Minister’s Housing Advisor.
What will the new powers look like?
The new powers for landlords are being introduced as part of a wider package of measures designed to tackle anti-social behaviour across all tenures.
Headline measures include pledges to halve the delay between a private landlord serving notice for anti-social behaviour and eviction, and the introduction of a broader list of disruptive and harmful activities that can lead to eviction.
The Government has promised to:
- Make grounds for possession faster and easier to prove, making the notice periods for all anti-social behaviour evictions two weeks,
- Ensure all private tenancy agreements include clauses specifically banning anti-social behaviour, making it easier for landlords to use the breach of tenancy ground,
- Make the notice period two weeks for all anti-social behaviour eviction grounds,
- Expand the discretionary eviction ground, to make anti-social behaviour easier to prove in court,
- Speed up the process of evicting an anti-social tenant by working with the courts’ service to explore how to prioritise anti-social behaviour cases,
- Introduce legislation that includes guidance for judges on principles to consider when making a decision, including the impact on the landlord, other tenants or neighbours,
- Explore mediation options when it comes to tackling low-level, but high impact anti-social behaviour.
The wider programme also warns of unlimited fines for ‘irresponsible landlords and building owners’ who allow their properties to fall into disrepair, encouraging anti-social behaviour as well as a consultation on the expansion of closure powers – to shut down premises being used to commit nuisance or disorder. It has also pledged to tackle the issue of anti-social behaviour in short terms lets, such as those advertised on Airbnb and similar platforms.
Research carried out by us here at the NRLA found that 50% of landlords have at some point attempted to repossess a property because of a tenant’s anti-social or criminal behaviour. Of this group 84% had received no help in tackling it from their local authority and 75% had no assistance from the police in dealing with anti-social tenants.
In an evidence session at the end of last year, I shared with ministers harrowing accounts of members’ experiences at the hands of anti-social tenants and, in a letter to the housing minister, outlined of simple but effective measures the government could introduce to make it easier for landlords to evict in these circumstances.
What they have come back with is a comprehensive list of changes, many of which align exactly to what we proposed and, if properly implemented, will make a real difference when it comes to tackling anti-social behaviour on the ground.
We have long argued that the law must be on the side of the victims of anti-social behaviour, and we are glad to see that the Government agrees.
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