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New powers to prevent 'riot tourism' Nightmare tenants whose persistent antisocial behaviour causes misery and fear for their local communities will face swifter justice, Housing Minister Grant Shapps said yesterday.
At the moment it can take over a year to bring nightmare neighbours to justice - during which they can continue to cause chaos in their local area and misery for their fellow tenants and community.
The Minister said that the powers proposed yesterday - part of a wider package of measures in a new Government White paper - would make it easier to evict tenants if they or any member of their household has previous convictions for anti-social behaviour - cutting out repeated and expensive court proceedings and achieving a better balance between the rights of tenants and the needs of their victims.
Mr Shapps also said that landlords would have a new additional power to take eviction action against tenants if they or any member of their household is convicted for riot-related antisocial behaviour - whether that behaviour takes place in their own back yard or across the UK.
The measure, put forward in response to last year's riots, will ensure that those committing this antisocial behaviour in the future will face the consequences of their actions.
He said that the law abiding majority would be disgusted that people who cause chaos in a riot would still benefit from the valuable support and resource of social housing. The proposed new powers would ensure tenants will not escape the justice they deserve just because their offences take place outside their own community.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
"For too long communities have been forced to suffer vicious neighbours from hell in misery, while seemingly endless court proceedings held the rights of the perpetrator above the rights of their victims.
"While eviction should always be the last resort, communities should not have to live in fear of their neighbours while they wait for justice to be done.
"The powers set out today would make it easier for landlords to take swift, decisive action against their most anti-social tenants, taking previous convictions into account and cracking down on riot tourism by ensuring that a local border won't stand in the way of tackling the worst offenders."
1. A public consultation on proposals to introduce a new mandatory power of possession to enable landlords to take swifter action to evict their most anti-social tenants, as well as extending existing discretionary ground for possession for convictions for riot-related offences anywhere in the UK was held from 3 August to 7 November 2011.
2. Final proposals on the proposed new powers in the light of consultation and our summary of responses to the consultation can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/antisocialbehaviourresponse.
3. Details of the Antisocial Behaviour White Paper on wider reforms of the anti-social behaviour tools and powers can be found here: www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/anti-social-behaviour/white-paper/ (external link).
4. Examples of recent eviction cases demonstrate the long process currently required to evict:
In October 2010, a police raid at one of Helena Partnership's properties resulted in the partner of one of the joint tenants being convicted for possession with intent to supply cannabis and possession of heroin. Helena Partnership agreed that one of the tenants and their partner would leave the property, leaving the other in sole occupation.
In December 2010, the same person was found in the property in possession of cannabis. In light of of this, Helena sought an outright possession order. A year later, the landlord was only granted a Suspended Possession Order in October 2011 for 2 years.
A tenant of Gloucester City Homes and her teenage son waged a campaign of persistent anti-social behaviour against their neighbours over a 2 year period including threats of violence, drunken behaviour and drug abuse.
The tenants' Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction Order, granted in 2007, was repeatedly breached, including involvement in the theft of an elderly pensioner's life savings, forced entry and assault of one of their neighbours.
The tenant was eventually evicted in August 2009. Had the mandatory ground for possession been available to tackle the ongoing anti social behaviour, local residents could have been given respite much earlier, with no need for witnesses at the hearings.
After three years of persistent anti-social behaviour from one of their tenants, Adactus Housing an injunction was first granted in November 2009.
Unfortunately the problems persisted and the tenant threatened and intimidated victims and witnesses who had taken part in court action. A two day trial in August 2010 granted Adactus Housing Association Possession of the property and the tenant was eventually evicted in November 2010.
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