Unruly tenants to be easier to evict

4 Apr 02
New powers to make it easier for social landlords to evict unruly tenants have been proposed by the government in a new attempt to tackle antisocial behaviour.

05 April 2002

Although councils and housing associations are being told to use eviction only as a last resort, the government is insisting that evictions must happen faster and without other tenants being required to give evidence in simplified court proceedings.

The new rules are likely to centre on the larger-scale use of introductory or starter tenancies, which are less secure and easier to terminate. These are already operated by local authorities and registered social landlords. In future, says a consultation document published on April 2, tenants who engage in antisocial behaviour could remain within such a scheme throughout their tenancy.

If a tenant has already moved to a secure or assured tenancy, they could be demoted to an introductory or starter one for a specified time.

Alternatively, where a tenant breaches an antisocial behaviour order (Asbo), a landlord could obtain an immediate possession order for the property.
Just 466 Asbos have been imposed during the three years since they were introduced although, in future, RSLs as well as councils will be able to apply.
Tackling anti-social tenants suggests landlords should publish their policies and procedures for preventing antisocial behaviour. It also calls for data showing whether an eviction was sought because of rent arrears, antisocial behaviour or for other reasons.

Figures published in January by the Lord Chancellor's Department revealed that the number of possession orders sought by social landlords rose by 3,300 to 30,350 in 2001 – an increase of 12%. The Housing Corporation, meanwhile, has reported a 14 % increase in evictions by housing associations between 1998 and 2000.

Local Government Secretary Stephen Byers said this week that social landlords must create a climate in which complaints are listened to and effective action taken. 'We are not on an eviction crusade, but where eviction is a necessary and proportionate response to anti-social behaviour, it must happen with all speed,'
he said.


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