Safe from harm
A new tool will help landlords use the courts to tackle anti-social behaviour, says Helen Tucker
The community harm statement, launched by the Chartered Institute of Housing, is a new tool designed to make it easier for social landlords to demonstrate the impact of anti-social behaviour, providing a recognised template to present evidence to court. It has been introduced at a good time; some specialist anti-social behaviour teams are being cut in size, while the ‘big society’ seeks to encourage community.
Furthermore, challenges to legal action based on proportionality and tenants’ rights are continuing to rise alongside new tenure reforms that remove the expectation of a ‘lifetime’ tenancy.
The purpose of the CHS is to help to refocus the attention of the court on the impact of ASB on the local community, to balance the consideration given to the rights of the tenant and their household. The latter often seems to take prevalence over the needs of the local community.
It is difficult to tackle ASB where neighbours will not come forward - it can be done, but generally takes much longer. Community impact statements, usually completed by the police, have of course been around for some time. They have proved helpful, but have not been used routinely, especially perhaps in areas where ASB incidents are less frequent or there are no specialist teams.
It remains important to provide the court with hearsay information from neighbours and police intelligence in a helpful, consistent format. If landlords continue to work with the police and partners, we can ensure the CHS is used widely as a valuable additional tool in tackling ASB in court.
Helen Tucker is a partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors