Anti-Social Behaviour Legislation Change To Help Landlords Evict Bad Tenants
New Government legislation preventing Anti-Social Behaviour is going through Parliament this year and the changes in the law could make a huge difference to UK private rental sector (PRS) landlords who have previously had difficulties evicting tenants on the grounds of anti-social behaviour.
2012 saw over 2.3 million incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded by police in the UK, (equivalent to around 6,300 incidents per day!)
However, many anti-social behaviour incidents were either reported to local councils and social landlords or not reported at all.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill 2013/14 will mean that UK PRS landlords can evict a tenant on the grounds of anti-social behaviour (ASB), even if the offence was not committed near the landlord’s rental property, and the courts will have to grant possession.
Clause 89 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill 2013/14 will introduce a new mandatory grounds for possession by private rented sector landlords, where a court will have to grant an order for conviction if just one of five conditions outlined below are met:
- The tenant, or a member of the tenant’s household or a person visiting the property has been convicted of a serious offence.
- The tenant, or a member of the tenant’s household or a person visiting the property has been found by a court to have breached an injunction to prevent nuisance and annoyance obtained under Clause 1 of the Bill.
- The tenant, or a member of the tenant’s household or a person visiting the property has been convicted for breach of a criminal behaviour order.
- The tenant’s property has been closed under a closure order obtained under Clause 73 of the Bill and the total period of closure was more than 48 hours.
- The tenant, or a member of the tenant’s household or a person visiting the property has been convicted of a breach of a notice or order to abate noise in relation to the tenants’ property under the Environmental Protection Act (1990).
- Clause 90 will insert new provisions into the Housing Act (1988) to enable a landlord to seek possession where a tenant (or a person living in or visiting the tenant’s home) is guilty of conduct likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to the landlord, or their appointed representative, where the conduct relates to or affects housing management functions.
In other words, even if an offence (e.g. prostitution or drug dealing) was committed away from the landlords rental property, there would still be absolute grounds for evictionin the eyes of the law.
- Clause 91 will also enable a landlord to evict a tenant who has been convicted at the scene of a riot anywhere in the UK.
- Landlords who sell on a rental property knowing that there is an anti-social tenant in-situ will also have a legal duty to disclose the situation to the new rental property owner.
At present, the only option currently available to landlords wanting to evict an anti-social tenant is to serve a Section 21 notice and simply wait 2 months.
There are other grounds that landlords can use to seek the eviction of anti-social tenants;
- Ground 12 – Where a tenant is in breach of an agreement specifying no anti-social behaviour
- Ground 14 – Where a tenant annoys neighbours
Both of these grounds would require witnesses, including neighbours to appear in court to provide necessary evidence.
Private rented sector landlords are also encouraged to limit and control the behaviour of their tenants and their pets through specific, carefully worded, clauses in their tenancy agreements;
Clauses in tenancy agreements can prevent tenants from keeping dangerous dogs in the rental property, stop tenants from using bad language or violence towards neighbours, however, the terms stated in the tenancy agreement must not be unfair in terms of consumer regulation.
As the law stands landlords can serve injunctions on anti-social tenants, although there is very little evidence to suggest that many private rental sector landlords actually use this power.
The new Anti-Social Behaviour Bill will also amend the law on dangerous dogs; introduce new firearms offences; criminalises forced marriage; gives powers to the new College of Policing; implement some of the Winsor report’s recommendations on police remuneration; provide new powers for the Independent Police Complaints Commission; and make changes to compensation for miscarriage of justice.
The new Anti-Social Behaviour Bill had a second reading in June 2013 and the remaining stages will soon be announced after amendments are tabled by MP’s.