Locality rule exemption to be restricted to rioting
Proposals to make it easier to evict tenants if they have been involved in criminal behaviour away from their homes will only apply if there has been a riot.
The Communities and Local Government department has this week confirmed it is extending its ‘discretionary ground for possession’ to cover offences committed away from the home, but it will ‘only apply to offences committed at the scene of a riot’.
Under current rules courts can grant possession if a tenant or resident of the home has committed an offence ‘in the locality’ of the property. Following last summer’s riots the government published proposals to broaden the rules to include offences committed away from the property.
At the time housing minister Grant Shapps wrote to housing association and local authority leaders, saying: ‘It cannot be right for that sanction [eviction] to apply only to criminal behaviour towards neighbours or in the locality of the property as it does at the moment.’
A consultation paper that had been issued earlier in August was amended to include the proposed new rules, and the government has this week published responses to the consultation and its planned next steps.
It says it plans to legislate to introduce the measures ‘as soon as parliamentary time allows’ but has rejected calls to make further changes to the locality rules.
The consultation response states: ‘Whist we recognise that a number of respondents felt a wider relaxation of the locality requirement would be helpful, at least to include a larger geographical area, we think that definitions based on administrative boundaries are likely to prove arbitrary and do not consider that the scope of our consultation provides a basis for wider change.’
Reponses from the housing sector to the proposal in the consultation were mixed, with a roughly even division between those in favour and those against. Some landlords were concerned that taking into account offences committed away from the home was outside their housing management function, and lawyers argued a connection between the offence and tenancy was necessary for possession to be justified.