New rules for landlords to crack down on anti-social tenants
The government's new Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan will give landlords more power to evict anti-social tenants - including reducing the notice for eviction to just two weeks.
The government will give landlords more power to crack down on anti-social behaviour from tenants, to "ensure those who are persistently disruptive are evicted". Its Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan includes reducing the notice for eviction of an anti-social tenant to just two weeks.
It will also broaden and clarify the definition of anti-social behaviour, to make it easier to prove or disprove in court. £160 million will be allocated to help fund this crackdown across all aspects of society.
Why will these new rules be introduced?
The government found that one in three tenancies in the private sector were ended by landlords due to the anti-social behaviour of their tenants.
This is similar in the social housing sector, where a survey taken estimated that up to one million households were affected by anti-social behaviour last year.
There is also an issue with what happens once the behaviour is reported. Fifty-five percent of social housing tenants that reported a problem were unhappy with the outcome.
Forty percent said that they didn't report it in the first place, as they didn't believe their landlord would take action.
What new powers will landlords have to evict anti-social tenants in the private sector?
The government has outlined different approaches depending on the type of tenant behaviour:
"Low-level - but high impact - anti-social behaviour"
The government aims to improve mediation in the private rented sector, through the new Ombudsman as planned in the Renters' Reform Bill. This would help prevent evictions in the case of "low-level" anti-social behaviour, but still support landlords.
"Sustained acts of intimidating or disruptive behaviour"
The government will take steps to make sure that tenants exhibiting consistently intimidating or disruptive behaviour will face consequences. It will also help make grounds for possession "faster and easier to prove":
- All private tenancy agreements will need to include a clause around anti-social behaviour, to help make a "breach of contract" for this ground much clearer to establish.
- A two-week notice period will be introduced for anti-social behaviour eviction grounds. This will be included in the plans to reform section 8 under the Renters' Reform Bill.
- It will become easier to prove anti-social behaviour through the discretionary eviction ground. This means outlining what behaviour is "'capable' of causing ‘nuisance or annoyance’".
- The eviction process will be speeded up through prioritisation of anti-social cases.
- The government will also set out what judges must consider and how to weigh arguments - such as considering the impact and whether tenants chose to engage with the landlord to resolve the issue.
The government will consult on how to better monitor anti-social behaviour in the short-term let sector, through its planned registration scheme.
What new rules will be introduced in the social housing sector?
The report highlights that social landlords already have eviction powers to tackle anti-social behaviour.
However, the government will update its statutory social housing allocations guidance to provide clarity on when social tenants will be bumped to the back of the queue, if they exhibit anti-social behaviour.
It will also introduce a “3 strikes and you’re out” approach to deprioritising those tenants for further social housing.
What is anti-social behaviour?
The government's press release outlines that "persistent noise or by being drunk and disorderly" will be labelled anti-social.
The full government report also highlights that intimidatory behaviour, drug use, vandalism, and neighbours consistently playing loud music or letting their dog bark all night can also be classed as anti social - among other activities.
How will these new rules be enforced?
The government will work with police and other local authorities and organisations to help "swiftly evict" tenants, where necessary.
When will these new anti-social behaviour rules come into effect?
The report offers no specific timeline for when the new rules will come into force. However, if they are to be included in the Renters' Reform Bill proposals for the private rented sector, the government has previously stated that more details will be announced in the 2022-2023 parliamentary session.
You can read more about expected timelines for the bill in our blog, with insights from Robert Bolwell, Senior Partner at Dutton Gregory.
This article is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. For more information, visit gov.uk.