If you are a tenant of a social landlord or local authority you may be aware that your landlord can seek to evict you as a result of anti-social behaviour. Up until recently if your landlord took such proceedings you could go to court and argue that it was not reasonable for a possession order to be made against you and in most circumstances the court could usually be persuaded to suspend any possession order on condition that you complied with your tenancy in the future
However the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduces new measures to deal with anti-social behaviour making it easier for your landlord to evict you. One of these measures is a mandatory ground for possession. Because the ground for possession is mandatory if the anti-social behaviour is admitted or proved the court does not need to consider whether it is reasonable for you to lose your home. The new mandatory ground is very severe and can be used if there has been a conviction for a serious criminal offence or if an anti-social behaviour injunction has been breached. The basis for your landlord issuing proceedings against you for possession of your home is not limited to your behaviour but also the behaviour of other people. This includes occupiers of your property even if they are not named tenants, your family, and visitors to your property. The anti-social behaviour could also occur away from the property even if you were not involved in it.
Under the Act your landlord also has new powers to apply for anti-social behaviour injunctions and therefore you may be at risk of being given a custodial sentence by the court if there are repeated allegations of anti-social behaviour made against you. The new anti-social behaviour injunctions can be made where a Court believes that the person has engaged in or threatens to engage in anti-social behaviour and it is appropriate to grant the injunction to prevent such behaviour in the future. A breach of an anti-social behaviour injunction can result in your landlord seeking possession of your property using the mandatory ground for possession or applying to court for you to be committed to prison for up to two years.
It is always important to obtain legal advice as soon as you are at risk of possession proceedings or injunction proceedings being issued against you to give you the best opportunity of defending those proceedings. It is especially important if your landlord is seeking possession on the new mandatory ground because the proceedings will only be successfully defended if there is a defect with the paperwork or if you can successfully argue that to evict you from the property would be a breach of your human rights. These are very difficult arguments to raise at court and you should obtain the advice of a specialist housing solicitor.
Stephensons have a dedicated housing law department who can give specialist advice and assistance.