Councils should do more to investigate ASB complaints

Councils should do more to investigate ASB complaints

0:01 AM, 30th November 2023, About 7 months ago 7

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Not only are councils not doing enough to help private rented sector (PRS) landlords deal with anti-social behaviour, but they shouldn’t be pushing that responsibility onto landlords to deal with.

Chris Daniel of Possession Friend, a service that helps landlords with eviction cases, points to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report that reveals councils are not doing enough to deal with complaints about anti-social behaviour (ASB).

Its ‘Out of Order: Learning lessons from complaints about anti-social behaviour’ report analysed 223 complaints received in 2022-23 and found that 75% of them were upheld.

The report highlights several cases where landlords and tenants suffered from the lack of effective action by councils to address ASB issues.

Gather evidence and present ASB cases to court

The Ombudsman’s report also identified some examples of good practice by councils who employed staff to proactively gather evidence and present ASB cases to court.

Mr Daniel, the founder of Possession Friend, said: “From the dealings we’ve had, I’m happy to name Cleveland and Redcar as one such good example and have written to the Ombudsman to say so.”

He also urged Parliament to consider the ASB problem and its relation to the use of Section 21 notices by landlords, which allow them to evict a tenant without giving a reason.

Mr Daniel says that some landlords resort to this option because they feel frustrated by the council’s failure to deal with ASB complaints.

He said: “Parliament would do well to consider the ASB problem and instances where landlords use this as motivation for using Section 21 in any debate on the Renters (Reform) Bill.”

Responsibility for dealing with ASB

However, Daniel also criticised some councils for trying to evade their responsibilities and powers by making landlord licensing schemes include the responsibility for dealing with ASB to be the landlord’s.

He said that this was a way of abdicating their duty and that the Ombudsman should have addressed this issue in the report.

Mr Daniel said: “Such means of abdication are not referred to by the Ombudsman and we’ve pointed this out also.”

The report highlights landlord complaints and says various councils failed to investigate complaints properly.

The Ombudsman’s report made several recommendations for councils to improve their handling of ASB complaints, such as providing clear information, recording and monitoring complaints, working with other agencies, using the full range of legal powers and remedies, and providing appropriate support and feedback to complainants.


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Comments

northern landlord

15:52 PM, 30th November 2023, About 7 months ago

Every landlord knows that once Section 21 goes it is going to be very difficult to evict for anti-social behaviour especially at the lower level but still aggravating end. The landlord normally lives remotely so it will require the people on the receiving end to actually provide evidence. Even if evidence could be provided anonymously the offender will probably guess the identity of the complainant and make life even more difficult for them especially if the claim is dismissed. Most complainants would not risk repercussions.
Councils should realise that landlords only rent houses to people. They cannot be considered liable for the effect the tenants behaviour could have on other people. Right now neighbours could complain to the council, council has a word with the landlord, section 21 issued, Landlord gets house back (eventually) so it can be rented at a higher rate or sold, end of story. Once section 21 goes many landlords after going through protracted section 8 eviction procedures will just throw in the towel and sell up. In fact with selling up set to be a mandatory ground for eviction many will opt to do just that straightaway.
What next? Tenant is found guilty of a criminal offence, landlord goes to jail? Probably some tenant organisations would think this a good idea.

Paul Essex

16:47 PM, 30th November 2023, About 7 months ago

Of course if an anti social tenant is evicted then they become the Councils problem. Quite a conflict of interest.

Old Mrs Landlord

18:37 PM, 30th November 2023, About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Essex at 30/11/2023 - 16:47
I think you've hit the nail on the head Paul.

Chris @ Possession Friend

15:11 PM, 2nd December 2023, About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Essex at 30/11/2023 - 16:47
Lots of conflict of interest. Like the Councils obligation to provide Emergency accommodation to those evicted by Sec 21,
Yet contrary to Two Housing ministers and numerous Ombudsman findings of fault, - they continue to advise tenants to stay until bailiffs evict purely to preserve their financial position.

Mick Roberts

17:43 PM, 2nd December 2023, About 7 months ago

Great words Chris.
Nottingham Selective Licensing wants us to evict and deal with ASB tenants when the police can't even do so.
Yet the homeless side of the SAME Nottingham Council then fight this and say that ASB person is staying in there as long as possible.
Utter madness. Two sides of the same Council fighting each other.
And both sides fighting us the Landlord. We han't got a chance.

Reluctant Landlord

21:42 PM, 4th December 2023, About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris @ Possession Friend at 02/12/2023 - 15:11
as a result of the S21 ban, I see EVERY council telling everyone in any circumstance to stay put until they are evicted!

The 'prevention duty' will simply cease to exist almost overnight. When a S21 is issued there is always the slight possibility for a council to try and prevent an eviction (by offering the LL to pay up arrears etc to keep a tenant in the property) but if S8 now lists significant arreas, anti social behaviour or property damage etc then the council knows that the LL is serious and there wil be no chance of 'mediation' to keep the tenant in the property.

The council will also knows that this person/s is trouble and heading their way....so keeping them in the LL property is preferable for as long as possible...

This will mean

1. The councils next step (the 'relief duty') - the process where they have a duty to help secure that person accommodation for at least 6 months - is going to simply implode.

A relief duty is only determined AFTER a Housing needs assessment takes place. In this the council will ask the tenant about details about what led to them being homeless. Imagine that conversation!

As it is, S21 now does allow tenants to hide behind the 'the LL was selling the property which is why we were evicted on a S21' default position as no reason is or has to be given. When that is gone, S8 will list it all in black and white. A quick call to the previous LL will inevitably secure the nail in the coffin.

As a result I see councils also regarding nearly all of the S8 grounds, as indicative of the tenant making themselves 'intentionally homeless'.

Ergo a lot of councils will reject both a prevention and relief duty. Shop doorways will be soon be on allocation only....

2. The S8 reason will follow the tenant. It will be in effect like a CCJ but potentially last a lot longer! The tenant will become literally unhousable. It will be interesting to see if the insurance/rent guarantee industry catch up and start rejecting cover for LL's where tenants have previous history of property damage for instance and formal eviction by S8. Or will premiums rise across the board if you take anyone on who's a benefit recipient?

One thing is guaranted...there will be an increase in possessions and evictions, not a decrease. Flying straight into the face of Shelter et al.

Yes I will be the one screaming from the rooftops - ' I told you so'!

Old Mrs Landlord

9:40 AM, 5th December 2023, About 7 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Reluctant Landlord at 04/12/2023 - 21:42If still available, have a listen to the recording of the Committee stage of the RRB where one of the lettings agency representatives raised the point that S.21 was beneficial to a tenant in this respect as it hid behaviour which would disqualify the tenant from eligibility for rehousing by the LA. On grasping the significance of this point one of the Labour representatives present immediately responded "Well that law will be changed then" or words to that effect. I fear landlord/tenant/LA relations will be very different in ways not currently predictable (because of the many possible interrelated variables) once this Bill becomes law and a Labour government is in charge of legislation. Small, unincorporated landlords who know their tenants personally will become an endangered species.

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