07/07/2008 1:48 pm
The story last week that residents of a south London estate were being asked to make sure their children were home by 9pm made the headlines for a number of reasons.
The main point raised was the injustice of the situation - homeowners living on the same estate were not subject to the same rules.
But even if you put this aside the tenancy agreement still seems fairly draconian. Is this sort of practice widespread, and do people have any other examples?
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08/07/2008 1:18 pm
I know of a new build estate in hackney with similar issues - it has an internal communal garden, and owner-occupier residents complained about kids (from the social housing block) were playing unsupervised in the garden - kids playing in a playground - shocking!!!
the housing association was trying to impose a similar curfew
neighbourhood agreements are more common now, although i haven't come across a curfew clause.
Inside Housing staff post
09/07/2008 11:29 am
There was a story in the paper this morning about somewhere that has introduced blanket 9pm curfew for all under 16s - I forget exactly where.
We've had dispersal orders for a few years now, where groups of kids can be sent home if they are deemed to be misbehaving. There was even a successful legal challenge under the Human Rights Act, although it doesn't seem to have made much difference.
But a curfew for all under 16s, regardless of whether they are 'causing trouble' or not, seems indefensible. Still, at least it isn't discriminating against social housing tenants I suppose, just all children and young people.
23/07/2008 12:17 pm
Estate agreements aren't really anything new, although the disparities such as this are not. To be effective, they have to cover the WHOLE of an estate but even that is flawed as if there is a breach with an owner occupiers kid what recourse have you? (Assuming the incident is relatively serious, not just being out after a set time). Invariabl the answer is that you have little recourse with an owner occupier, whereas with a tenant you have the tenancy agreement and that is the stick that others will use.
I can't see an easy way round it, only to hope that judges can see sense if subsequently breaches of agreements like this are put before them. If it's a serious breach, act accordingly, but if it's a breach of a rule that sounds like it was drawn up on the back of a fag packet, treat it accordingly.
23/07/2008 12:40 pm
there is also a problem if it is a consortia estate, when several housing associations manage then property and there are other tenures such as shared ownership and private sale as well - it all depends on the willingness of housing associations to work together, and in my experience of consortia estates, this just doesn't happen
23/07/2008 1:20 pm
this totally indefensible. Just think yourself as a kid - if you are now an adult - how would you feel at beeing excluded excerxcing your citizens rights from your own neighbourhood by a rule connected with with the type of property occupied by your parents?... How kids of this neighbourhood would ever form good relationships with each other and play games, etc. with a rule like that. Is nto the same as saying if you are black you have to be inside and if you are white you can go out? Well, maybe not the same but close I would say... If you want ( I don't) a gated community well then create one - but you start mixing you are creating far more problems that you think you'll be solving... By the way this all stems out of new labour and now new conservative concept that 'tenancy' or rhater 'eviction' is the weapon to use to solve problems... And what's the result? Evictions are almost impossible to enforce and the only people terrorised by this threat are the largest majority of honest and decent tenants while the small minority of troublemakers can't care less...
29/07/2008 4:31 pm
Tenancy agreements have to be one of the most ill thought out contracts ever presented to a customer. Tenants cannot be responsible for their children’s behaviour.
The confusion concerning ‘responsible’, in my view, stems from the scope ambiguity after the term was originally used to good effect in the previous Young Persons and Children’s Act. A responsible adult was once deemed to be a person ‘in charge’ of the emotional and physical welfare of the child. What it meant was that if an adult was accused of child neglect or cruelty this was not the same as saying they were ‘to blame’ (responsible) for the neglect. Guilt could not be proved unless the neglect was wilful and, in most cases as this proved too difficult to determine, the normal course of action was for the child to be removed to the safety of local authority care. ‘Responsible’ in its original meaning therefore referred to the adult who was ‘in charge’, however, today, the meaning is interpreted within tenancy agreements as claiming parents are accountable or to blame for their child’s behaviour.
This is why tenancy agreements have proved impossible work. If a parent or child breaks the law then each is to blame and the courts will punish them accordingly. A responsible adult under the previous legislation could not be to blame for their child swearing or fighting as the adult did not carry out a wilful act. Consequently, with all the determination in the world, local authorities cannot make the wording of a tenancy agreement hold adults accountable if they have done nothing to the child to make them behave that way.
Parents at their wits end are considered by housing officers as victims of domestic abuse if their children take drugs and abuse parents psychologically. Housing officers will offer support to parents and tell them they’re victims and not to blame for their children’s bullying ways. Officers will be empathetic to parents’ plight.
What changes in the parent’s life -they ask -when the child picks a fight with a neighbour and a different housing officer this time turns up at the door and tells mum and dad they are to blame. It just doesn’t make sense.
30/07/2008 10:19 am
London and Quadrant ternancy agreement states that a tenant for his or her antisocial actions and for those of memebrs of his/her family and any visitors and callersw connected with them. the tenant can be evicted if him/her or anybody connected with them is antisocial - not only within the tenancy premises but also in the area surrounding it ( how large is this area is not clear - the estate? the neighbouhood? the Borough?) (for example a drug dealer who operates in the area but not from his/her tenancy premises). So wehther the tenant is directly or indirectly responsible or even against the acts committed by memebrs of his/her family and visitors - he or she can be evicted... This is London and Quadrant interpretation of current antisocial behaviour of their (presumed) antisocial tenants. What's your opinion?
01/08/2008 9:08 am
Alan, I feel I have to take issue with some of your comments - whilst it's true that tenancy agreements are far from perfect, what would you propose as an anlternative, that would give landlords the legal comfort that they would be happy to let their properties?
Also your point that you feel it's unreasonable to expect parents to be responsible for their childrens behaviour or actions - is that so unreasonable? It's a massive abdication of parental responsibility to take no acceptance of your role in your childs behaviour. Whilst it's true to say a parent cannot be with their child all the time or often physically prevent them from doing something, in the event of a childs behaviour causing issues with a tenancy often judges are very sanguine on the matter - providing that steps are being taken and the parent shows they are willing to try and work with other parties then often action will be proportional, i.e order suspended upon completion of ISSP or similar.
Effectively the only solution as you propose if the child is unruly and "out of control" would be to get the child taken into social services care to protect the parents tenancy??
01/08/2008 11:44 am
My alternative to dealing with anti-social behaviour would be to [a] have the current wording within tenancy agreements altered or at least explained better to tenants, and [b] remove anti-social behaviour functions from councils and hand powers back to the police and social services. As I said previously, the word ‘responsibility’ has being much misinterpreted by tenants and wider residents and has thus become unworkable. Under the old Young Persons and Children’s Act, a ‘responsible adult’ referred to someone who was in charge of (responsible) a child who was clothed, fed and kept emotionally and physically sound. And to understand where this modern phenomena of ‘parental responsibly’ came to be so misinterpreted, you would need to take a chronological look at how communities perception of parental responsibly changed over the last few decades. Let’s suppose a child in the 60’s was drinking alcohol and causing trouble at the age of 12, for instance. The Young Persons and Children Act would be used by social services to remove the child into voluntary (agreed with parents) or court-order care, until such time as social workers unearthed whether the parents had neglected the child or caused child cruelty. The paramount importance was the child’s welfare. Once in local authority care, of course, social workers and child psychologists then began the work of speaking to the child (and parents) to see where things went wrong. So let’s suppose furthermore that it was discovered that, over a substantial period of time, the parents forced the child to remain in a room where the couple fought. The courts would then have to decide whether the parent’s actions were ‘wilful’ in causing emotional distress to the child or whether the parents were simply unaware their actions would have, due to their own emotional problems or mental illness etc. Whatever the outcome, however, the child was removed from the source of the problem by social services and gradually reintegrated back into the family setting over a period of time. Neighbours were happy because the child was removed for everyone’s benefit. What happened next was that Children’s Homes were gradually closed primarily to cost-cutting measures, youngsters turned to binge drinking, drug taking and engaging more frequently in anti-social behaviour, while local authority anti-social behaviour units gave the impression to residents that they would be the saviour that police and social service once were. In other words, Anti-social behaviour units told communities that tenancy agreements “would” hold tenants accountable for the children’s behaviour merely by inserting ‘responsibility’ in the agreement. It was madness. Parents cannot be held accountable for their children’s behaviour unless the neglect can be proved to be ‘wilful’. Naturally, society took their eye of this ball when erroneously believing parents can be held accountable for the child’s behaviour, which brings us to the position communities now find themselves in. Children cause horrendous bother on estates and, after many months or years of doing this, the children are then offered the same emotional support and guidance children were once given within hours of being removed from the situation when social workers were allowed to take them into care. The whole situation is ridiculous. Evict tenants as a last resort if they misbehave, by
01/08/2008 11:51 am
Sorry, the last piece of my comment seems to have gone astray and it should end: Evict tenants as a last resort if they misbehave, by all means, but children’s behaviour is often beyond their control.
01/08/2008 9:10 pm
All tenancy agreements - not just L&Q - have wording to the effect that tenants are responsible for their children AND for their visitors. This is alo enshrined in many legal cases that also have attempted to define the vicinity /neighbourhood. For example, drug dealingon the property has been extended by courts to to an offence worthy of eviction in the vicinity of the home and not just fromthat said property.
Visitors causing anti-social behaviour dont have to be children they can and are also adults. I think I'm right in stating that the majority of ASBOs issued nationally have been served on those aged over 25 and I'm certain that he majority have been issued to those over 21 - 21 being the maximum age that the Children Act could apply to. So, the majority of ASB is caused by adults, not children.
Tenants are therefore responsible for the conduct of persons who have always fell outside the remit of the Children Act. It is an easy mistake to associate ASB -or nuisance as it used to be known -with young people.
I do fully agree that ASB should be a police matter and not that of (just social) landlords - What about tenants of private landlords and owner-occupiers?
To then talk of curfews for just children of just social landlords is a patent nonsense that (a) will not solve the problem, and (b) simply stigmatises children and social tenants. Perhaps the next non-red top tabloid suggestion will be gated communities for estates that would even allow those woolly-minded liberals a chance to feed them through the bars!!
01/08/2008 10:53 pm
I agree with Joe Halewood about the diagnosis of Asb situation and the unreasonabelness of the situation... However I would like to stress that choosing "TENANCY" as the weapon to correct crime the governement, ultimately, has created a climate of terror for decent and well-behaved tenants - who are the only one afraid of losing their homes. As I said before the hardcases of antisocial behaviour will be hardly deterred by a Asb - same as death penalty is not going to deter any murderer. My point is that now is the well-behaved tenant who is scared of losing his/her tenancy. This "eviction" weapon has also eroded the right to peace and quiet for the tenant - who now cannot enjoy his home without the hanging threat that if something goes wrong for whatever reason his/her home can be taken away. Yes, you (and the government) might sday no decent tenant will ever be evicted without good reason. This might or might not be true - and this is not my point. My point is that either real or imaginary a climate of fear and terror has beern created and decent tenants are very wary of trying to defend any other rights they might have or from landlord abuse for fear that tenancy might be taken away -
02/08/2008 0:21 am
tenants can be evicted if they break the terms of their tenancy agreements, and if members of their household break the terms, the tenant is responsible for that behaviour as well.
In practice, it is down to the magistrate at a possession hearing, if they feel it is reasonable to grant a possession order, they will do so
it also depends on the willingness of the social landlord to actually apply for possession order, they don't have to, and can seek alternative ways of resolving the issues
02/08/2008 1:02 pm
Parental responsibly -as far as parents being held accountable for the child’s actions -has to clear legal definition in law. Even the government acknowledges this when they admit ‘While the law does not “define in detail” what parental responsibility is, the following list sets out the key roles: Providing a home for the child; having contact with and living with the child; protecting and maintaining the child; disciplining the child; choosing and providing for the child's education; determining the religion of the child; agreeing to the child's medical treatment; naming the child and agreeing to any change of the child's name; accompanying the child outside the UK and agreeing to the child's emigration; should the issue arise; being responsible for the child's property; appointing a guardian for the child, if necessary, allowing confidential information about the child to be disclosed. That said, what puzzles me about ‘responsibilities’ and the sanction of evicting tenants being such a wonderful tool in getting tenants to get their children to behave, is why are similar responsibilities and sanctions not used to the same end in spheres of other everyday family life? Why does this tool only seem confined to tenancy agreements? If a child burgles a house we all know that it would be wrong for the parents to be arrested and charged. If a child misbehaves at school we know that no useful purpose would be served by giving the parents detention. And if a child damages a vehicle belonging to the company their parents work for, we all know it would be totally unjust for employment legislation to terminate the parent’s employment. The parents haven’t done anything wrong. It seems to me that what has happened in recent years is that local authorities have got way with including sanctions because they were desperate to make tenancy agreements work when they have had limited effect in reality. Tenants who misbehave should be evicted. Children, who misbehave, on the other hand, need to be taught how to change their ways or provision be made to remove them from the family setting.
02/08/2008 1:06 pm
Sorry again folks. Seeing that I can’t edit posts, the first part of my previous piece should read: Parental responsibly -as far as parents being held accountable for the child’s actions -has no clear legal definition in law.
02/08/2008 4:52 pm
I think you are making erxactly my point, Alan Savage, which Marty21 has not really got to -- yet. The concept of using Tenancy eviction into tenancy agreement has been a convenient tool for many to tackle antisocial behaviour. Of course there are rules in tenacy agreements which broken can make a tenant lose their tenancy, let's say not paying the rent. But the antisocial home owner is not evicted from his home for his antisocial behaviour, so why should a tenant be evicted from his home for antisocial behaviour? Is is not my concept home as a tenant (of a social landlord) the same as the home of a homeowner? Who has the right to tell me, a tenant, that their home has more social/personal value than mine?
I stress this again: I welcome any reasonable initiative to fight antisocial behaviour. But by using eviction (social landlords) as a principle of control the State/governement is telling tenants in practice: "your home is not your home. If you do not behave as we say you should we are not going to jail you, we are not going to correct your ways - but we are going to take your home away."
This approach de fact dimishes and humiliates the dignity of ALL tenants - and degrades their home rights... As I said before the hard antisocial cases are a minority and a modenr society should have already solved this problem long ago... Besides how can a tenant have the freedom to complain against his social landlord's abuse or harassment about repairs or antyhing else if he has been reporting antisocial behaviour and the landlord done nothing about it? Or other tenants have been reporting him as antisocial?...
The solution for me is to get back to before all this landlord controlled anbtisocial behaviour started and rebuild on the foundation that puts tenant's pride of home and security in them as the basic step to build stronger communities.
03/08/2008 4:38 pm
when you buy a home, you don't sign an agreement with a landlord, therefore there is no agreement to break - if a home owner is anti-social and breaks the law - then action can be taken against them - which could result in them losing their home - if they lose their job as a result of a custodial sentence for example.
regarding council or HA tenants - in my opinion, eviction should be a last resort, other options should be tried first to encourage the tenant and or their children or household to adhere to the terms of the tenancy agreement, an agreement which is freely signed by the tenant - and which should be explained at sign up.
the serious cases when all other options have been exhausted, then yes, go down the eviction route, a HA or Council has an obligation not just to the anti-social tenant but also to the other residents nearby
05/08/2008 8:15 am
Tenants freely sign tenancy agreements because they have no option if they have nowhere else to live. Tenants freely sign tenancy agreements because they do not yet know what their neighbours are like or whether estate problems will be dealt with adequately by their council. Tenants freely sign tenancy agreements not yet knowing that they will have to spend a future on putting the house right because their council drags its heels when asked to undertake repairs. It’s not what you might call a perfect recipe for a meaningful relationship between landlord and tenant is it? Tenants freely sign tenancy agreements because they even have little faith in joining local and national tenant’s forums to influence changing tenancy agreements to make things better in communities. It’s reminiscent of what Henry Ford once said: ‘Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.
05/08/2008 8:27 am
not sure what your point is, what sort of tenancy agreement would you prefer?
yes tenants sign the agreements because if they don't, they don't get the place to lie, do you think tenants have no responsibility for the way they behave or members of their household behave?
yes the ability of a social landlord to deal with estate issues varies wildly, but that ability would be affected if they were not able to take action against asb.
yes, maintenance is an issue - if it isn't being done, take action against the landlord, go through the complaints procedure, go to the ombudsmen, complain to your mp/councillor, take legal action via a law centre
ineffective tenant forums - why is that an issue for social landlords - the effectiveness of them depends on the tenants -
the henry ford line - do you want loads of different tenancy agreements - do you know how difficult that would be to implement?
05/08/2008 8:48 am
Marty, let's not confuse the issue here... There is nothing wrong about tenancy agreement. Of course tenants have responsibilities. This has always been the case and always will be. My point is that since the antisocial issue has come to the front - because it serves well the politicians more than anybody else - TENANCY HAS BECOME A WEAPON OF SOCIAL/POLICE CONTROL OF ALL TENANTS... Of course a home owner can lose his home too - if he does not pay the mortgage, if he is sent to jail for life, etc. Alan Sugar can lose all his homes if his Sky deal goes wrong and he is found guilty of wilful murder of all 12 new batch of You Are Fired hopefuls... What's the private owner case got got to do with it?... As I said the governement and Social landlords have created a climate of terror for ALL social tenants that heir tenancy can be taken away... This is psychological torture and very humiliating to any decent tenant. This was not the case years ago when Asb and related matters where dealt by the police... I REPEAT the only one who are afraid to have their tenancy taken away from them are the 99% of decent peace-loving tenants because they are the ones who repect ( well now fear) the law... The hard antisocial cases are not going to care one way or another... So why 99% of tenants have to be living in this state of terror, which stops them from compalining _ as you say they should about repairs and other matters, to this or that body or take legal action against their landlord? Because the next time the landlord will harass him to the point to take their tenancy away. You don't even need to be styupid to realize what is going on.