Friday, 09 October 2015

ASB laws may lengthen process of evicting tenants

A lawyer has told a select committee about her concerns it will take longer for landlords to evict tenants with reforms to anti-social behaviour laws.

The Home Affairs committee heard evidence from a number of housing professionals yesterday on changes to the powers available to landlords to tackle ASB.

In May 2012, home secretary Theresa May unveiled plans to reduce 19 current powers to six and introduce a community trigger to require action to be taken on persistent problems.

Although housing professionals broadly agreed with the reforms, Jane Plant, a lawyer specialising in ASB cases, said the mandatory power could mean it will take longer to evict people.

‘Our main concern surrounds the mandatory grounds for possession,’ she said. ‘We do welcome the extension of the injunction to those under 18: ASBOs, as effective as I think they have been, are costly and do take a long time now.

‘I think the current legislation is working well, the anti-social behaviour injunction is effective. From the Law Society’s point of view our written submission has been related to and criticising whether the new power of possession is necessary.’

Gavin Smart, director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said he liked the new draft legislation because it ‘strengthens the tools that are available’.

But he added: ‘It’s a tricky judgement but once other routes have been explored then you end up at eviction. The question is, what do you do with the families that have been evicted?’

Mr Smart also explained the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her daughter in 2007 following years of harassment, had ‘brought into sharp focus’ the need for work to tackle the pattern of persistent low level ASB.

Kevin Williamson, head of communities and well-being at the National Housing Federation, said: ‘The purpose [of the new legislation] is not to increase the number of people evicted but to speed up the process.’

Eamon Lynch, managing director of the Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group, said: ‘There are some welcome advances and improvements [in the new legislation] and there’s a general acceptance that over 15 years of evolution of these tools and powers, that taking stock is useful.’

The government also published a consultation paper on proposals to introduce a new mandatory power of possession in August 2011, which will enable landlords to take swifter action to evict their most anti-social tenants.

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