There has been a great deal of speculation in the press regarding the topic of Rental Reform. There are particular concerns about how, when Rental Reform is put into place, landlords will be able to gain possession of a property where tenants are displaying anti-social behaviour?
The biggest concern for landlords is if the government are going to give them enough protection and allow them to gain possession of their property.
So why is it so difficult to gain possession of a property with anti-social tenants?
- It can be subjective; to establish mandatory ground 7A one of the 5 conditions relating to antisocial behaviour must be met – a. Conviction of a serious offence, b. Breach of an Injunction to prevent nuisance or annoyance, c. Breach of a criminal behaviour order, d. A Closure order has been made on the property, e. Conviction under a noise nuisance offence. If these grounds are not satisfied then landlords are left with other discretionary grounds under section 8.
- Sometimes police will cooperate and at other times it can be more difficult.
- Landlords are reliant on neighbours. Neighbours are often reluctant to get involved, as if the possession is not gained the anti-social tenants will still be at the property and may be aware that the neighbours have tried to give evidence against them. As a result, there may be a concern for safety.
- Anti-social behaviour can be subjective. What is considered anti-social for some will not be considered anti-social behaviour for others.
- Gathering evidence can be difficult in absence of witnesses.
- A landlord would need to have extreme levels of anti-social behaviour to have the confidence that they would gain possession on the day of the hearing.
What can you do if you have an anti-social tenant?
Consider all options to gain possession. At the moment, we still can use Section 21s – this may be a more straight forward route than proving to the courts that you have anti-social tenants. If you’re unable to use Section 21, consider if there have been any other related breaches such as rent arrears. You may then serve a section 8 notice that encompasses all these breaches, and not just anti-social behaviour. If you are going to try to prove tenants have been anti-social, it is incredibly important to gather as much evidence as possible to prove that the tenants have been anti-social over a long period of time. Encourage witnesses to support evidence and attend court if necessary.
With the Rental Reform coming in, it is encouraging to see the government listen to the private rental sector when it comes to anti-social behaviour. Even if their intention is not to protect landlords, but to protect the community as a whole and stamp out anti-social behaviour and related crime.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has put out an Anti-social behaviour action plan
He says: “This action plan maps out how we will tackle this issue with the urgency it deserves and stamp out these crimes once and for all – so that wherever you live, you can feel safe in, and proud of your community.” The Action Plan focuses on making communities safer and sets out the government response to tackle antisocial behaviour robustly.