10:06 AM, 15th April 2020, About A year ago 78
How can landlords deal with anti-social behaviour by tenants?
Private landlords have very limited power to take action against tenants in such matters, and our main form of deterrent (or eventual remedy) was the threat of eviction. Tenants know that this is can be a long process, so it is unlikely to change their behaviours, particularly if their behaviours are due to alcohol dependency and/or mental health issues.
The Government (as part of it’s Covid 19 response) has now limited still further, the ability of the landlord to evict, by extending the Notice periods, and closing the courts and bailiff services, thus creating a situation where tenants are pretty much able to do whatever they like and landlords are completely powerless to do anything about it. This is well publicised across social media, so all tenants know this. The Notice periods are now 3 months. The courts will have a massive 3+ month backlog of cases to deal when they eventually re-open.
In the unlikely event that the courts all re-open on 1st July (with a full complement of staff), they will have a 3+ month backlog of cases before they can start hearing new cases, so:
– if I serve 3 month eviction Notice this week (lets say 20/4/20 as the date of service),
– it would be 21st July 2020 before I could even apply to the court for a possession hearing,
– court (in my area) usually take 6 weeks for a hearing date, so add on the 3 month backlog, that means the hearing would be listed for early December,
– if court grants the possession on the first court hearing date (so no adjournments) the court gives the resident 14 – 28 days to move out, so that takes us into early January 2021,
– if the resident does not move out on the ordered date, I then have to apply to the court for bailiffs to physically evict them, this usually takes 6 – 8 weeks, so adding on the 3 month backlog this would give an actual eviction date of sometime in May 2021.
This 13 month eviction process appears to be the reality that all private landlords are facing, AND assuming the Covid restrictions are actually lifted on 1st July, and everything starts working at the same rate, and in the same way as previously.
If the restrictions continue beyond 1st July (as they may), and some processes will change (e.g. introduction of a pre-action protocol), and things will take longer to get back up and running at a pre-Covid rate, then the 13 month timescale mentioned above is perhaps over optimistic.
Based on the issues mentioned above, apart from us sending rent reminder/anti-social behaviour letters and 3 month eviction Notices to the residents, I don’t know of anything else we can legally do to resolve issues such as non-payment of rent or anti-social behaviour.
In the case of anti-social behaviour, it would be no good trying to explain to suffering neighbours the 13+ month likely time period before we could evict, as they may then decide to take action of their own to get the residents to move out by force, and I certainly don’t want any residents being threatened or attacked, or the property being targeted for damage.
In the case of tenants choosing to not pay the rent, while this would leave them in debt, if they have no assets, no employment, and no rent guarantor (with assets), then there is no realistic way to get the rent debt paid (unless it can be done via Universal Credit, but that generally requires tenant co-operation, and can only be done during the tenancy not after eviction or tenant moved elsewhere). This is likely to put many landlords out of business.
Am I missing something?
Are there any legal ways to deal with the anti-social behaviour and non-payment of rent issues mentioned above?
I am open to reasonable suggestions if you can think of any?
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