New laws for landlords – dealing with anti-social tenants
by Peter Rolph, 31 October 2016
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (the ‘Act’) came into force on 20 October 2014. The Act introduces major changes to residential property proceedings aiming to speed up the possession process for social landlords whose tenants have a proven recent record of anti-social behaviour or criminality.
The Act has introduced new absolute grounds for possession together with amendments to the discretionary grounds for possession.
What does this mean for social landlords?
On the face of it, the new legislation is good news for social landlords, but to take advantage of this it’s imperative that your anti-social behaviour policies and statements are reviewed and amended if necessary in light of the changes. This includes checking that you will be able to rely on the new absolute grounds, and being clear on the circumstances in which they can be applied.
Equally as important is the need for the policies to be publicised to tenants to avoid any allegation that they have not been made aware of the new grounds. To guard against this it’s a good idea to consider how to update both new and existing tenants to make sure they are fully informed.
So what are the new absolute grounds for possession?
To rely on the new absolute grounds, new alternative conditions need to be met, these are:
1: A serious offence conviction (e.g. murder, manslaughter etc.) committed after 20 October 2014.
2: A proven breach of an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance (under Part 1of the Act at committal proceedings).
3: A conviction for a breach of criminal behaviour order (under Part 2 of the Act).
4: The property is or has been subject to a closure order and access has been prohibited for a continuous period more than 48 hours.
5: A conviction for breach of a statutory nuisance abatement notice or an order to abate a statutory nuisance.
All conditions, bar 4, can be invoked by the tenant, someone residing in the demised premises or by a visitor.
Conditions 4 & 5 relate specifically to demised premises but conditions 1-3 also have locality requirements which include that the behaviour was in part committed:
- In the locality of the demised premises
- Against a resident living in the locality
- Against the landlord, its staff or contractors in connection with housing management functions.
Further requirement - Notices
Another feature of the Act is a requirement for new notices to be served prior to issuing proceedings and time limits apply to this.
There are no prescribed notices produced at the moment so it is important to make sure all the right information is contained within any notices to be served.
If an order for possession is granted under one of the new absolute grounds, then a landlord:
- has no duty to convey the freehold or grant a lease under the right to buy provisions of Part V Housing Act 1985.
- can withhold consent to the assignment of secure tenancies by way of exchange.
- may refuse surrender and grant tenancies (s158 Localism Act 2011) where notice has been served identifying an absolute ground is in force and possession proceedings have commenced.