The ineffectiveness of police and councils in handling anti-social elements in the private rental sector is causing a lot of hassles for landlords and communities. The latest data reveals that over fifty percent of landlords who served repossession notices to tenants faced issues with their criminal or anti-social behaviour. Another disturbing aspect of the data shows that about 67 percent of these landlords did not receive help from the police and local authorities to tackle the menace of the anti-social tenants.
Key aspects of antisocial behaviour
Anti-social behaviour impacts residents' quality of life and can range from minor disturbances to criminal activities and assaults. A tenant's anti-social or criminal behaviour causes stress for neighbors and landlords living on the same property. It is the primary reason a landlord serves a possession notice on a tenant.
The following acts or persistent behavioral patterns amount to anti-social behaviour:
Landlords must take neighbours complaints Seriously, problematic tenants can damage the reputation and marketability of their property.
Ways to prevent antisocial behaviour
Landlords should take precautions before letting property to any tenant by running reference checks. Personal meetings with prospective tenants are helpful to learn about their work, life, values, history, friends and nature, and behavior patterns generally. Contacting the tenant's employer or previous landlord will help clarify issues about the character of the future tenant.
Landlords can check with local governments to get information about tenant certification. While drafting a lease agreement, it is crucial to include conditions or clauses regarding anti-social behavior. This will serve as a safeguard in the event of a future issue. It also works thinking about the age balance and work patterns of tenants in the same building especially if soundproofing is not up to scratch. That said noise nuisance may come to be as likely to originate from an aging person with the TV up load as a young teenager.
Tackling anti-social behaviour issues
No one can guarantee that anti-social behaviour issues will not arise despite references and exercising due diligence. The best approach is for the landlord or letting agent to discuss the issue with the tenant immediately after noticing anti-social behaviour or after receiving complaints from other residents. Making the tenant understand that their behaviour is causing a nuisance may prevent future instances.
The landlord or letting agent should highlight the breach of a particular clause of the lease during the discussion. This is to reinforce and remind the tenant that there are consequences if the behaviour continues. The discussion should be documented, usually by way of minutes or a follow up letter, such can serve as evidence in any future Court action if the tenant continues to cause a nuisance.
Steps before eviction
It is worth stressing that most neighbours and residents prefer not to report the matter for fear of further and more severe aggression as a retaliatory response from the perpetrators. So generally, if reported things are usually pretty bad. Landlords can involve police or other professionals as witnesses if neighbours are not coming forward.
It is better to prepare for eviction if there is a persistent anti-social behaviour pattern. The combined efforts of local authorities and police are crucial for dealing with anti-social behaviour. Maintaining a record of events and discussions is essential, as these will be substantial evidence during the future course of action.
The landlord should investigate the complaints and write to the perpetrator about the seriousness of their behaviour while suggesting corrective action and setting out the consequences if the behaviour does not stop. The letter should include details of the violation of the lease agreement and a warning about the consequences. The landlord should also contact the police and local authorities and explore the involvement of a secondary mediation agency.
As the government is pressing ahead to scrap section 21 repossession notices, landlords will need to get ready for tougher tests to meet when wanting to evict a tenant. This means having an anti-social behaviour strategy and a robust approach that involves the police and local authorities. Police action will be the crucial requirement for getting a repossession of the property after the abolishment of section 21 notices.
It is The Renters Reform Bill that will drive these changes. Widely described by the UK government as the biggest shake-up of the private rented sector in 30 years".
Eviction and Gaining Possession after The Renters Reform Act
The Renters Reform Bill promises to improve the grounds for possession to make them fair and efficient and to deal with repeated arrears seriously in some circumstances making eviction mandatory regardless of the arrears balance at that time.
It is widely expected that England will follow Wales on December 1, 2022, bringing The Renting Homes (Wales) Act 2016 into force. This Act includes a No-Fault notice for eviction which requires Landlords to allow six months for tenants to move out as opposed to the current two months under a Section 21 Notice. And as a Landlord cannot issue a No-Fault Notice until six months from the start of the occupation contract, effectively by implication tenants will get the security of 12 months from the beginning of a tenancy.
Ian Blair as MD of The Ringley Group's Lettings Business comments that "the change for repeated arrears or pattern of arrears being upgraded from a discretionary ground to a mandatory ground is a good one, under the current regime it is about arrears accumulated when serving a Section 8 Notice and often the Court grants relief if arrears have been partially reduced by the hearing. This means expensive procedures which can fail the Landlord who can ultimately be left with a bad tenant. As to six months’ notice, not two, in my opinion, few landlords use Section 21, you either want to be a landlord or don't and a landlord who is planning to exit the market typically does so in consultation with the tenants. Less than 1% of our landlords use Section 21 Notices.
This has not been a market problem. Increasing the Notice period will do is encourage tenants to default on obligations for a longer period. Previously the landlord would have factored in the likelihood of tenants defaulting on obligations for two months, now a landlord will have to factor in six months. All this after deposits have already been reduced by The Tenants Fees Act from six weeks to five. In my opinion the sole motivation for increasing the notice period to six months is to get landlords to suffer the brunt of bad government policy that has caused an exodus of private rental landlords. So much so that in the last 18 months 53 percent of buy-to-let properties were permanently removed from the private rental market and properties available to rent plunged by 49 percent between March 2019 and March 2022.
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