Neighbours from hell who cause misery and fear for their fellow tenants could face swifter eviction, under radical plans outlined on the 11th January by Housing Minister Grant Shapps.
He announced a package of measures and Government cash towards tackling anti-social behaviour, giving greater support to tenants and landlords.
Currently it can take over a year to remove “neighbours from hell”, who during that time can cause absolute misery for local residents and bring down the wider neighbourhood.
But Mr Shapps announced that he plans to strengthen the hand of residents, councils and housing associations to act. He will introduce a new additional mandatory ground for possession, so those tenants with a track record of anti-social behaviour can be evicted from their council or housing association property much more quickly.
Ministers believe this will lead to a faster and fairer court process – being found guilty of housing related anti-social behaviour in one court will provide automatic grounds for eviction in the county court, removing the need to prove the incidence of anti-social behaviour for a second time.
To further speed up the courts process, Mr Shapps announced that he would be exploring jointly with the Justice Department whether there were any unnecessary obstacles to the swift resolution of ASB possession cases where serious harm is being caused to individuals and communities. It is proposed that £300,000 of Government funding will be provided to a new central team to help tenants and landlords tackle the blight of neighbours from hell in their communities.
Grant Shapps said:
“For too long, too many social tenants have lived in fear of “neighbours from hell”, whose nasty and vicious behaviour blights their neighbourhoods. Victims and witnesses often have to continue living side by side with the perpetrators while action to evict them drags on for many months and sometimes years.
“That’s why I want to give hope to these victims that this can and will be stopped. So I will introduce a new mandatory ground for possession, so any tenant convicted of serious anti-social behaviour can be evicted much more quickly. And I’m giving landlords and residents the support they need to reclaim their streets and make their houses feel like homes again.
“I want any tenant who comes forward to report anti-social behaviour in their area to get the support they need and deserve. And I want landlords to use the full range of powers at their disposal to tackle this menace head-on, so that the disruptive minority of social tenants don’t make everyone else’s lives a misery.”
Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said:
“Anti-social behaviour ruins lives and damages our communities. It is essential those who raise the alarm and ask for help are listened to and their complaints acted upon promptly.
“These measures announced today will give greater powers to social landlords and residents to take a firm stand against the bullies and the troublemakers who commit persistent anti-social behaviour and help protect some of the most vulnerable victims from sometimes daily abuse.”
Mr Shapps will also clarify the rules around the use of ‘probationary tenancies’, which are normally offered to new tenants for up to a year. The Minister will look to reassure housing associations that they have the same freedoms as council landlords to provide longer ‘probationary’ tenancies. That will mean all social landlords can be confident that they can extend these less secure tenancies for new tenants by up to six months, giving them the extra time they may need to be certain that these new residents treat their home, and their neighbours, with respect.
The Government is also reviewing the anti-social behaviour tool and powers available to the police, councils and social landlords and will publish a consultation on proposed changes shortly.
Action already taken includes launching a new trial in eight police force areas for handling complaints of anti-social behaviour, which will help to quickly identify and protect the most vulnerable victims. The Government has also appointed Baroness Newlove as Champion for Active, Safer Communities to help drive up confidence in our communities.
17th January 2011