14/04/2011 1:50 pm
I am prompted to start this thread following comments made by a poster elsewhere on IH today which suggests the ASB mechanisms/process/strategy may not be fit for purpose nowadays and that ASB and such community issues may not reall be what landlords should be involved in.
"Why social landlords should be deemedd 'responsible' for behaviours of their tenants or in the locale of their properties is bizarre. Police take the position that oh its on a social housing estate therefore it must be the social landlord who is responsible - that is a dereliction of duty and a buck passing exercise.
Social landlords only have themselves to blame of course. Instead of focusing upon being a landlord they seek to expand into 'community' issues. What a stupid idea that was!!!
Now tenants, rightly aggrieved that anti social and other unwanted behaviours occur near to them now turn to their social landlord and blame that landlord. Why dont they get the police to uphold the police pledge, or whatever that futile marketing exercise is called - the one that says Police will respond and will follow up?
Social landlords ultimately dont have any real deterrent and this is why such behaviours continue and always will, unless the police do their job in social housing areas that they do in owner occupied ones
Tear it up and start again"
I would welcome not only housing experts views but also views of posters, thank you
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14/04/2011 2:56 pm
I can agree in part as I view ASB as a crime and therefore a matter for policing. It was always wrong of Blair to force ASB policing onto landlords (and hence the costs onto tenants) when ASB is a community issue.
Where tenancy related issues overlap with the behaviours now covered by ASB, of course landlords should act, just as they always have, through tenancy enforcement action. But the cost in time and resource for a non-housing function being carried out by a housing manager has never been justified.
The landlord's role in ASB, just as in any other criminal enquiry, is to assist the police within the context and remit of their being a responsible corporation. There is no requirement upon a private landlord, nor on an estate agent, to police ASB so why then should there be such upon a social landlord.
14/04/2011 2:59 pm
Ta, very muchly PSR, hope that the other bit (Social landlords only have themselves to blame of course. Instead of focusing upon being a landlord they seek to expand into 'community' issues. What a stupid idea that was!!!) might stir things up a bit.
14/04/2011 3:55 pm
I have never heard of a social landlord refusing to police the community. Give them a case of a paedophile or a dog assaulting someone and and they'll all come out saying they will not tolerate antisocial behaviour - while all the time antisocial behaviour goes up and ordinary decent peaceful people suffer for it.
This could only stop with social landlords refusing be policemen. But they are not going to challenge the governement on this and it is in their interest to have fingers in any community pie - of course the traditional landlords services to tenants are far less glossy and boring for them nowadays.
14/04/2011 3:59 pm
Thank you for that Anon @ 3-55pm.
18/04/2011 4:00 pm
I share the concern of many in housing that some police forces don't treat anti social behaviour seriously enough. We have seen how it can escalate with tragic consequences.
I am also concerned that budget cuts to police forces will mean that so-called low level crime is not a priority for a stretched police force. I do however think social landlords have a responsibility alongside the police and local authority for tackling anti social behaviour by their tenants. They have a responsibility to their other tenants to ensure that anyone they rent to abides by their tenancy agreement which should cover "unreasonable or anti social behaviour". Repeatedly breaking the agreement should result in eviction.
18/04/2011 4:28 pm
I disagree with Blair - landlords should have a duty to protect their tenants from anti social behaviour and work with the police authorities in doing so.
A subtle change of words but an important one. Landlords of course will deal with inter-tenant issues through the tenancy agreement, but there is no place for a landlord to lead action where a tenant has committed a crime in the general community. The landlord should instead focus on being supporters of thier tenants, and protecting them from abuse from outside forces.
I reported elsewhere that I have already started to witness the logical outcome from Shapps' demonisation of tenants with other residents harrassing tenants simply for being of different tenure. Traditional thinking scews ASB action to be against the tenant not defending the tenant. Blair's weighting in his post supports this bias and is therefore wrong.
This continual viewing of tenants as some sort of sub-species within society, especially by sector experts, must stop before it does irreversible harm.
18/04/2011 5:10 pm
Social landlords should never lead on ASB; they may be involved but should never lead on this.
The semantics abound here too, "low level crime" is still crime and a matter for the Police.
I fundamentally disgaree with Blair when he says "I do however think social landlords have a responsibility alongside the police and local authority for tackling anti social behaviour by their tenants."
Until there is an established and workable definition of the ubiquitous term 'anti-social behaviour' then how can landlords have a 'responsibility' towards it? Social landlords have always had 'powers' to deal with behaviours inside the property and in the near vicinity and can recall a case about 12 years ago in which a landlord gained an eviction for drug dealing in the vicinity of the property and this was a breakthrough.
Yet how can a landlord (any landlord not just social) be responsible for the behaviour of its tenants? My view is it cannot and it should not. If I rent you a car am i responsible for your behaviour in it? If i rent you a holiday home am i responsible for your behaviours there?
The answer is of course no, I would be responsible for ensuring the product or services was fit for purpose and safe etc - but not for how you conduct yourself. So why are social landlords seen as responsible for behaviours?
18/04/2011 8:21 pm
Anon above - I fully accept there is currently a difference with the way social landlords are perceived to view tenants and asb in distinction to PSLs and for that matter to morthahe companies.
However, the bigger point was that why should ANY landlord be responsible for behaviours? Behaviour, good or bad, lies with the individual and they (mental incapacity aside) should be wholly responsible for their behaviours.
If that behaviour breaches a tenancy by all means landlords should deal with it. If its a crime or nuisance then why should the landlord be responsible? At the end of the day a social landlord has one ultimate sanction, eviction; yet if evicting a tenant from house 24 if he or she then gets a private let at number 26 doesnt deal with the problem.
So even if I did believe landlords should be responsible for their tenants behaviours and arguing aqainst myself, the sanction that a landlord has is ineffective. Yet because social landlords have (stupidly) taken on this role the police pass the buck and the problems drag on for far longer than they should. All the while the landlord is castigated by the neighbouring tenants for inaction and inadequacy.
No business would ever have taken on such an alarming risk to their reputation as social landlords have done. Is it any wonder why so many tenants (aka customers) dislike their landlords?
18/04/2011 8:52 pm
It is the denied access to legal aid the cause why victim social tenants remain victims, because they are not given their statutory help as citizen victims of antisocial crime from either the police or their landlord or both.
If there was legal aid most victim could take their own actions against antisocial neighbours, against ineffective landlords and against unresponsive police.
You see we can go round and round the antisocial issue as much as we like, but if the legal power is effectively denied to the victim to defend himself/herlself in court, and to pursue in court those who fail to carry out their duties to defend them as citizens, the victims will never have a defence of their person and thier rights, and even less justice in a thousand years
19/04/2011 5:17 pm
Roll up and watch nonny versus nonny - a battle without legal aid nor a safety net - but who is making what point to whom, or is someone arguing with themselves - who knows!
19/04/2011 6:32 pm
Anon above: You say:-"The police won't do anything. they do not register crimes as crimes, so they do not have to solve them and they go about calling antisocial behaviour as low level priority.."
That is the problem in a nutshell. The Police are not doing their job. Ill put that in more context, the Police are not doing their job towards social tenants. They are doing (relatively) more for private tenants and a helluva lot more for owner occupiers - all on the same issues.
Social tenants face overt discrimination by the Police and are receiving a worse service than any other class of persons.
Is it any wonder that perpetrators carry on with their misdeeds in the vicinity of social housing given this blatant discrimination and neglect?
19/04/2011 9:26 pm
Saying is police matter is right but ii not resolving anything, because whether the social landlords are involved or not the police attitude will not change either.
I suggested legal aid as the solution so the victims could take the antisocial elements to court themselves if they wanted, or take the police to court for not doing their job. What is your solution?
Remember any solution which does not put the victim in a position of having recourse to the law will be worthless, because without it the victims will have no defence neither from perpretators and not from those who should be acting on their behalf.
19/04/2011 10:37 pm
When I first started working in Housing I was shocked at the level of involvement required with ASB for Housing Officers. All the cases I had from the previous Housing Officer showed quite clearly that we were working alone on cases that required police involvement. I took the case/s to the local Police Team and got them involved, cases sorted.
That said it's worth noting the reactions of those who carry out ASB when you threaten them with losing their homes. I worked alongside Police to carry out some early intervention work on a gang which were becoming quite serious, police matter you would think however when we turned up at our tenants house with 4 bobbys the tenants swore and took no interest. The mother then proceeded to ask the officers who I was and as soon as the police said he's your Housing Officer and he's here because your behaviour may lead you to losing your home she shut up and started talking and engaging, this was long term aswell.
I guess it depends on the situation but Police should be leading the way where there is crime happening but they are simply to few in numbers. Generally speaking the long term answer is society needs to get tougher. I don't dispute support needs should be met where there are some but we need to really look to set examples of those who flout the law and are bad neighbours.
Courts don't help the situation. Often when we prove breaches the courts grant orders but suspend them, the most ridiculas example I can remember of this is when police raided a tenant for having a cannabis factory in his bedroom, they charged and he got some pityful punishment for it which didn't include time inside anyway we took him to court to get the property back, Judge gave us the order and suspended it on the term (amongst others) that he doesn't cultivate any more cannabis. JUST SILLY!!
20/04/2011 8:41 am
Anon @ 10:37pm on 19/04 said: "Courts don't help the situation. Often when we prove breaches the courts grant orders but suspend them."
Absolutely agree with this 100%. There is nothing more frustrating than doing all the right things and building a case for the Court to give the perpertrator 'one more chance.'
In my experience, if you know the Courts in your area are 'soft' then there can be a reluctance by Associations to take perpetrators of ASB to Court.
Why the reluctance? Two reasons:
1. Because the perpetrator, on getting another 'chance' from the Court, will often believe no-one can touch them and they may increase their levels of ASB.
2. Cost. Is it really a good idea to waste thousands of pounds of rent money on taking people to Court when you know you aren't going to get the result the community wants?
This is why perpetrators of ASB are often found transfers or exchanges. I know this isn't fair, but what is more important to the suffering community: justice, or a quiet life? Rarely can you get both when it comes to ASB.
I'd add here that the vast majority of Housing Officers I have met want ASB dealt with almost as much as the community that is suffering. Believe it or not, the majority of Housing Officers are people - they take no pleasure in coming in to work and finding out people on their estates are suffering. They would love to be able to solve ASB problems more quickly - if they could then they would have happy tenants, and an easier job!
The Government needs to do three things in my view:
1. Make some decisions about who it ultimately sees as responsible for ASB. If it is Associations then give them more legal powers to deal with ASB. If it is the police then say so, and give the police more resources. Ultimately, one body needs to be in charge. At the moment we have a fudge where multiple agencies are seen as 'responsible' for ASB - but no one is ultimately 'accountable'. This is confusing for the public and makes it easy for 'agencies' to pass the buck.
2. Redefine 'ASB'. Lumping every irritation under the ASB heading gives minor problems on an estate - like graffitti on a park wall, untidy gardens, and untaxed cars - too much priority. There is a difference between 'nuisance', criminal activity', and 'anti-social behaviour.'
3. Kind of linked to 2 - be clear that some issues actually wont be dealt with by the police or Associations. Basically, people need to be more tolerant of each other, and not every clash of lifestyles should be classed as ASB.
20/04/2011 9:12 am
Anon above (8.41am today) you suggest 3 aspects as a solution.
1. Give the HA more legal powers. Why? The only sanction they have is eviction and cant be given any more than this. Yet even if evicted the unruly perpetrator can move into the same street in a private let. Eviction is not a CURE for such behaviour and doesnt stop the problem. There is and can be no point in giving more legal powers to associations.
2. Yes define what is asb what is crime and what is civil nuisance - you care to work this through and offer a definitive list? Any such attempt would be hugely controversial and by highly subjective and still the police would only deal with murder and serious crime .... and associations would still be toothless in terms of sanctions to arrest such behaviours
3 The horse has bolted and tenants believe every little nuance should be the associations responsibility. We cant go back
Associations should get out of asb and they wish they could as this is a huge risk to their reputation. I repeat their only sanction they have and can ever have is eviction and this does not solve the problem. They should never have got involved in this mess and need, for the best intereets of tenants and victims of asb, to get the hell out
20/04/2011 9:20 am
Anon @ 10-37pm yesterday
"That said it's worth noting the reactions of those who carry out ASB when you threaten them with losing their homes."
It is sad that the word threathen appears in that sentence, not only because it implies a certain mindset towards tenants but also because it implies a certain mindset of tenants towards their neighbours -- the implication being that they (the 'offending tenants') "push the envelope" as far as they can before adhering to their tenancy agreement.