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Anti-social behaviour in the spotlight

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A story in the news today caught my eye. Housing minister Grant Shapps has pledged to make it easier for well-known nuisance neighbours to be kicked out of their property.
‘Neighbours from hell’ make many people’s lives a misery. I act for clients around the country who have been victims of anti-social behaviour. Often they are frustrated with the lack of positive action taken by the Police in relation to these types of issues and the difficulties of pursuing matters through the Courts.
Today’s announcement that the Government is to take a more heavy-handed approach to these trouble makers should provide some welcome relief for people suffering this type of behaviour.
Grant Shapps said today: "For too long, too many social tenants have lived in fear of neighbours from hell, whose nasty and vicious behaviour blights their neighbourhoods.
"Victims and witnesses often have to continue living side by side with the perpetrators while action to evict them drags on for many months and sometimes years.”
It currently takes up to 12 months to evict known troublemakers, but Mr Shapps has promised to make it easier to take possession of their homes.
He said probationary tenancies will also be toughened up, and a central unit will target awkward residents.
Tenants convicted of serious anti-social behaviour can be evicted more quickly, and Mr Shapps is working with the Ministry of Justice to see if there are any other obstacles that are slowing down the court process.
The Government will also give housing associations the same rights as local authorities to impose probationary tenancies for up to 18 months - rather than the normal period of one year.
My view is that these plans do not go far enough. A large proportion of anti-social behaviour comes from people who own their own properties. Some even feel that they can behave how they want and there is nothing that can be done to stop them.
Mr Shapps’ proposals only deal with social tenants but in my view the Ministry of Justice should also be looking at streamlining the court process under the Protection from Harassment Act so that the Police properly utilise their powers under that Act and to allow people to pursue matters themselves through the Courts and get results much more efficiently.
By consumer solicitor, Gareth Jones