Tenants want quick and effective action against anti-social behaviour, not soft measures
The music is pounding, people are shouting, drug users and drinkers have been banging on your door, your car has been vandalised and you’ve been told in no uncertain terms to keep your complaints to yourself. Who should you call? Your housing association, the police or Michael Gelling, chair of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England?
Recently Mr Gelling complained in Inside Housing that housing associations like Plus Dane Group, which work closely with police to intervene in cases of anti-social behaviour, are victimising social housing tenants. He went on to describe as ‘appalling’ the idea that the police should have greater understanding of housing law and tenancy agreements.
What is appalling is that far too many tenants and neighbourhoods have to endure the misery caused by neighbours from hell. As chair of a tenants’ organisation, I can assure
Mr Gelling there is strong demand for action against ASB perpetrators and the tougher, quicker and more effective that action comes, the better.
Intervention can take many forms. Working with the police to warn people that their actions could result in them losing their homes is just one part of a wider strategy. We also work with those accused of ASB, looking into the root of what is causing them to act in such a way and help them to access help from other agencies.
Housing associations should view ASB as a neighbourhood issue. Problem-solving groups, where community agencies pool ideas, are another way of tackling this problem.
Where crime is involved, a holistic approach is less suitable. When the police are needed they should have an understanding of available sanctions.
Many tenants feel housing associations are too soft on crime.
In this context, Mr Gelling’s comments look ludicrous.
Des Finlay is chair of Plus Dane Group’s Tenants Together Forum