A new piece of legislation is set to make a huge difference to landlords, who have previously had difficulties evicting tenants on the grounds of anti-social behaviour.
The year ending December 2012 saw over 2.3 million incidents of anti-social behaviour recorded by police in England and Wales; which is equivalent to around 6,300 incidents each day. However, many incidents were not reported at all, or were reported to other agencies such as local councils or social landlords.
The Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill 2013-14 is nearing its final reading, whereby landlords will be able to evict a tenant on grounds of anti-social behaviour – even if the offence has not been committed near the 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 ground for possession by private landlords, where a court will have to grant an order for conviction if 1 of the following 5 conditions are met:
-The tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a person visiting the property has been convicted of a serious offence.
-The tenant, 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, 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, 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.
On top of these, Clause 90 will insert new provisions into the 1988 Housing Act 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 someone employed in connection with the landlord’s housing management functions, where the conduct relates to or affects those housing management functions. In other words, even if an offence (e.g. prostitution or drug dealing) has been committed away from the rental property, there would be absolute grounds for eviction.
-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 property knowing that there is an anti-social tenant in situ will also have a legal duty to disclose the situation to the new owner.
The only other realistic option currently available is to serve a Section 21 notice and simply wait.
There are other grounds that landlords can use to seek eviction; Ground 12 (where a tenant is in breach of an agreement specifying no anti-social behaviour) or Ground 14 (where a tenant annoys neighbours) – although both of these grounds would require someone (e.g. a neighbour) to appear in court to provide necessary evidence.
Private landlords are also encouraged to control the behaviour of their tenants through their tenancy agreement; e.g. covering pets such as the keeping of dangerous dogs, bad language and violence – however, the terms must not be unfair in terms of consumer regulation. As the law stands landlords can also serve injunctions on anti-social tenants, although there is very little evidence of private landlords actually utilising this power.
The Bill had it’s second reading in June and is now being picked over, with its remaining stages to be announced.