Private Landlords Will Need To Be Much More Vigilant if Proposals Go Ahead

by Mary Latham

16:53 PM, 11th November 2011
About 7 years ago

Private Landlords Will Need To Be Much More Vigilant if Proposals Go Ahead

Make Text Bigger
Private Landlords Will Need To Be Much More Vigilant if Proposals Go Ahead

Tenants with anti social behaviour orders will be forced into the private rented sector if proposals to give housing associations and councils a discretionary power to evict tenants who commit crime – even when they have acted long distances away from where they live – go ahead. “Social landlords have claimed their tenants are being stigmatised by the Government’s plans to evict tenants who commit anti-social behavior miles from their homes.”

My concern is where will these people go to live? The answer seems fairly obvious, they will go to private landlords who have no way of knowing that they have been evicted from the social sector and this will exacerbate the already increasing problems that landlords face when dealing with this type of tenant. If local authorities, with their trained and skilled Anti Social Behavior staff, cannot modify the behavior of these tenants how on earth can private landlords, who have no skills or training, be expected to deal with them?

Moving people out of the social sector will not solve the problem, it will worsen it. Landlords will be forced to go through the lengthy eviction process to remove them from our properties and in the mean time other tenants and neighbours will put us under pressure and are very likely to find support from Police and local authorities. This is a ridiculous situation.

According to this article, “The National Housing Federation suggested that the new clauses appeared ‘to be at odds with the minister’s introduction of the original proposals, which focused on the need to stop anti-social tenants making the lives of their neighbours a misery’.”

The issue of anti social behaviour was highlighted by the summer riots but it is not exclusive to people who cause problems on this scale. One person can have a devastating effect on the lives of those around them and moving that person from one area and/or tenure to another is not going solve this growing problem.

Government need to address the illness not the symptoms and give people a clear message that their behaviour will not be tolerated. I haven’t got the answer, although I have got my opinions, but the issue needs to be discussed at the highest level with all those who deal with the people who cause the problems and solutions must be found to stop ASB once and for all. If it is thought necessary to remove people from where they live because the impact of their behaviour is so great, then perhaps they should be placed somewhere that they will be supervised and retrained to become useful members of society.

One thing is certain and that is private landlords like me should not be expected to deal with these people where trained professional have failed.



Comments

Ben Reeve-Lewis

7:31 AM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

Mary, most councils use eviction as a last resort and if you are looking to sign up an ex council tenant you would do well to ask why they were evicted in the first place.

But that is not the whole picture and that article wasnt clear on this. I agree with you that tenants who have committed an offence can be difficult tenants, period, And I dont think many people would have too many arguments against that but the amendments being referred to is to the ground that deals with neighbour nuisance which also includes the actions of family members or even visitors to the property. The idea being that perfectly decent citizen Mrs Jones who lives in Birmingham has a feckless son who technically lives with her but she hasnt seen him for months, can be evicted for him receiving stolen goods in Aberdeen, I dont think that is fair.

Last year a woman lost her council house because her violent ex partner who had left the family home but was still on the tenancy agreement, kept returning to the property to shout and threatened neighbours when they complained, even though she didnt once invite him there and was too scared of him to tell him to leave or get an injunction. I thought that decision was wrong. Given that she was too scared to take action agaiinst him the council could have used it's powers under Section 222 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 to take out an injunction in the public interest but of course they rarely do.

I have a young (albeit grown up) son who is off the rails with drink and drugs and keeps getting arrested for petty stuff. His Mum who he lives with is a social worker, who works with people with drug and behavioural problems who has thrown him out several times. If she were a council tenant instead of a home owner this intelligent and responsible person would also be evicted.

PRS landlords have the right to let to who they wish and many may choose not to let to ex social tenants but I wouldnt write them all off at first glance because of these points I raise.

But what will happen to those tenants of PRS landlords dont pick them up? It is highly likely that the homelessness unit would declare them intentionally homeless in which case, if they cant find friends or family to take them in, the kids get taken into care and the parents sleep on the streets. Thats the madness of the situation.

Councils have the option of creating Family INtervention Tenancies, that came in last year, an laternative to possession where the tenants security of tenure gets downgraded and they have to particpate in a support and re-education package if they want to keep the home, but as a trainer who works in councils and housing associations literally from John o Groats to Lands end I have yet to find a council who has adopted them

Mary Latham

10:19 AM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

So we are here again Ben bringing in more regulation where exisiting powers are not being used. Government need to review the powers that local authorities already have and only when there is an issue that cannot be dealt with by using those powers should they give them more. Localism will fail if Government do not oversee local authorities. It is fine to devolve authority to local government but only if there is consitency. Government must not try to devolve their national responsiblity to citizens of this country.

Landlords often do not know where their propective tenants have been living before they apply for a tenancy. Local authorities and RSLs do not share the information with us that they share with each other. My concern is that a landlord in the PRS will take on a bucket of maggots without realising until it is too late. Some local authorities in my area are very good at supporting landlords who end up with anti social tenants but others simply put pressure on the landlord to evict the tenant. This is not solving the problem it is just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Landlords are becoming afraid to take on tenants on LHA, this is not a judgement of those tenants ,it is genuine fear for rent arrears and ASB and the good tenants are loosing out because we have no way of knowing if they are the good guys or not.

HMOLandlady

10:52 AM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

Mary, this is a point I've been thinking about as I set about to evict yet another tenant for suspected drug abuse. Luckily, this time he's done it away from the shared house.

Over the years I've had to ask several people to leave due to anti social behaviour. They've all agreed that it's unacceptable and we've parted on civil terms as I'm likely to bump into them in the street in the future. The problem is, they say, that they just can't help themselves and it's the way they adapted to cope with life. Again, I have opinions but try to deal with the facts in these cases.

What WILL happen to the dispossessed and vulnerable who have exhausted or taken advantage of their options? I've tried to help people in the past but soon realised I don't have the skills to address their problems or make them better.

After we've all breathed a sigh of relef that these tenants have left, I can't help but feel I've just passed the problem on.

Mary Latham

11:04 AM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

hmolandlady I know just what you mean. I had a really bad case earlier this year and the stress that it caused me amounted to more than all of my other tenants put together. This lady was in her early 50's and her partner was a pilot, both came with good references - I guess from a landlord who needed to get rid of them - I had no way of knowing the misery that they would cause occupiers of other flats in the block.

Thank goodness for Paul Routledge because we are going to need his Landlord referencing site more and more otherwise we will pass these tenants from one landlord to another and more neighbours and landlords will be put under enormous stress.

I too have tried to help people in the past but I have now learned that you can't help those who will not help themselves.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

11:34 AM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

A perennial issue ladies. It doesnt do any good to say that people need to take responsibility for themselves, although this is true, in the real world it is never going to happen and there has never been a time in history where irresponsible people havent lived in all communities of the world, with the possible exception of Germany from 1933 to 1945 but nobody wants that solution to anti social behaviour apart from maybe Richard Littlejohn and Christopher Hitchens.

I dont think we can legislate decency into people and on the same basis eviction of a family member wouldnt necessarily put a leash on the behaviour of many a wrong-doer, who would just see the loss of the family home and blame the council.

I think council's are the right people to deal with tricky tenants but with the advent of Localism you can see them moving away from that function. Just this morning Wandsworth council in London, who have already announced that they will be giving priority to people who have been in employment for 2 years on the waiting list have now announced that they are looking at evicting tenants who dont make an attempt to look for work. This is the thin end of the wedge as more council's will use the loosening of restrictions to free themselves up and get rid of what they perceive to be dead wood

Mark Reynolds

11:36 AM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

Hi Mary

Your comment about Paul Routledge is spot on! We also use the website TenantID to make sure that we make use of every resource available to us, to reduce the risk as best possible. What may be on one may not be on the other so we use both 🙂

Mark Alexander

11:46 AM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

Exactly what I said in my linked article Mark, spot on!

Mary Latham

12:03 PM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

Ben that is really worrying. Have these local authorities forgotten that social housing is for those who have no other way of finding a home and that the rest of us pay for this safety net? I do not want my tax pounds to be spent on people who break the law but I do want them spent on the vulnerable and needy in society. Government need to stop local authorities from excluding those who cannot find work from social housing. This reminds me of my point on another of my blogs about the PRS being used to hoiuse those who were once cared for in suitable places by trained staff.

The PRS is not trained nor skilled to deal with those who are excluded from the services that we have paid to put in place. How dare local authorities take it upon themselves to cherry pick those in need of social housing. How dare they "dump" those who are breaking the law on the PRS. How dare they seek to make their lives easier at the expense of the most vulnerable members of our society - children of parents who cannot or will not find work. People with mental health issues that prevents them from seeking work, men and women or are "tied" to partners who make them unhappy and inscure and may now loose them their homes. I am really very angry and this is not about the PRS this is about obuse of power and my tax pounds.

Mark Reynolds

12:43 PM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

Mary

I am guessing that each case will be decided on its own merit - at least that's what I hope.

A saving grace is that we have people like Ben who, I am sure, does a great job in sorting the wheat from the chaff. It will never be perfect as you know but some priority needs to be given. I can tell you of several cases where people who, have never worked, but have been given priority over domestic violence victims, but that is a whole new subject 🙂

Regards

Ben Reeve-Lewis

12:50 PM, 14th November 2011
About 7 years ago

You have hit a key social change square on there Mary but it isnt the council's arbitrarily doing this, takeing these decisions, it is all being done with the urging of central government who want to change council's roles from being providers to enablers. All part of the Big Society/Localism philosophy.

Govt dont want to keep giving money to council's for things, they want council's to generate their own incomes. For instance in many cases govt are allowing council's to keep all rent receipts (they previously paid loads of it to govt) on the basis of 'Dont expect any money from us". So the council have to make their own decisions where to cut on a purely local/regional basis.

This means that cuddly left wing council's will take a softer line on issues like eviction than Wandsworth who have always been traditionally very conservative. They were always Thatcher's flagship authority in that respect.

Many council's have yet to catch on that they are even allowed to make a profit. Localsim, when it comes in April 2012 is a massive change and not only to housing. Local choices made by local people, whom the council assists rather than imposes their own idea.

The dangers of a borough like Wandsworth looking at where best to spend their cash, when they have a very tenant unfriendly mindset is just the decisions you see being made today, with the encouragement and guidance of the govt

1 2 6

Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

OR

BECOME A MEMBER

And the landlord vote goes to - ?

The Landlords Union

Become a Member, it's FREE

Our mission is to facilitate the sharing of best practice amongst UK landlords, tenants and letting agents

Learn More