Date Published 25 June 2013
Local authorities are demanding new powers to prevent private landlords from collecting rent if they do not deal with the anti-social behaviour of their tenants.
The Local Government Association, representing 370 councils in England and Wales, presented its arguments during Parliamentary scrutiny of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill.
Mehboob Khan, chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said Westminster should follow the Scottish Government’s example.
The Anti-Social Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004 means that all Scottish landlords have to be registered with their local councils. The councils then have the power to issue notices to private landlords that spell out the action they must take to deal with anti-social behaviour by their tenants. If they fail to do so, they can be banned from collecting rent.
Khan said that anti-social behaviour by private tenants could make residents’ lives hell and blight entire neighbourhoods.
He said: `The problem of anti-social behaviour by tenants in private housing is considerable and councils have few powers to step in.
`The majority of private landlords are responsible and considerate but there are plenty who care little about the behaviour of their tenants as long as they pay their rent each week.
`Hitting those that ignore warnings by stopping them from collecting rent would certainly make them sit up and take notice of the damaging effect that anti-social behaviour can inflict on neighbours and the community as a whole.`
In practice, private landlords can have an uphill task trying to deal with the anti-social behaviour of tenants.
Although going to court to seek repossession may be viewed as the final option, solicitor Eamonn Hogan, of Shoosmiths Access Legal Landlord & Tenant Team, warned: `Courts do not necessarily take a dim view of anti-social private tenants and the evidence required to make an order stick is quite weighty because judges must examine whether in effect making someone homeless is just and equitable.`