Written by: Keoghs Solicitors
Date: 9th August 2013
Have you been threatened with eviction due to criminal or antisocial behaviour?
Worried about being evicted and what will happen next?
The first thing to do if you have been threatened with eviction due to anti-social behaviour is to get expert, professional advice. Do not ignore it as you and your family could end up homeless and entitled to very little help from your local authority.
For Housing Association or Council Tenants
If you are a housing association tenant or a council tenant, your landlord can ask a court to evict you if you, or someone in your household, or someone visiting you, has been found to have
Caused a nuisance or annoyance in the local area
Been convicted of an offence committed in your home or in the local area.
Been convicted of using your home for immoral or illegal purposes
As a tenant you are also responsible for the behaviour of visitors and other members of your household such as a partner or children.
However, your council or housing association has to follow certain rules if they wish to evict you. Eviction should only be used as a last resort. Your landlord could ask for an anti-social behaviour injunction (ASBI) instead or for your tenancy to be demoted. You can be evicted more easily if anti-social behaviour continues whilst your tenancy is demoted which can last 12 months or sometimes longer.
If you are evicted due to anti-social behaviour you may find it difficult to get re-housed as homeless because the council may consider you to be intentionally homeless. However, you would be entitled to some help. You may also be excluded from council or housing association waiting lists because of unacceptable behaviour.
If you receive any papers saying that your landlord is going to apply for a court order to evict you, we advise that you get legal advice immediately. If you want to stop the eviction, you will need help from a solicitor to challenge the decision.
Private tenants generally have assured shorthold tenancies which make it easier for a landlord to evict you provided that you are given 2 months’ notice (the section 21 notice) to vacate the property and that any deposit paid has been protected before the notice is served. If you have not left at the end of the Notice the landlord will still need to request a Notice of Eviction from the Court. Only a County Court bailiff (or High Court officer) can lawfully evict you.
As with housing association or council tenants, private tenants can be evicted due to anti-social behaviour, especially if your tenancy agreement sets out nuisance or annoyance to neighbours as reasons to evict. Similarly, you can be evicted if you use the property for illegal or immoral purposes.
You should also be aware that if a landlord decides not to evict a tenant who is being anti-social, it is possible for neighbours who are affected to take action instead. They can do this by complaining to the landlord, taking legal action to apply for an injunction or by complaining to the ombudsman about a Housing Association.
An injunction can work where a person who has behaved in an anti-social way wants to change their behaviour. An injunction will not work for those individuals who do not wish to change, who do not understand that what they are doing is anti-social, or who do not know how to stop the behaviour. Anti-social behaviour injunctions should not be imposed where the person lacks the capacity to understand the court procedures or follow any order made.
Sometimes the person accused of the behaviour believes the allegations are false or exaggerated. He or she should seek immediate legal advice in this situation. Often the injunction application includes an application to seek a Power of Arrest and it is important that the person affected obtains proper advice about this. Similarly, an exclusion order may be sought i.e. not to enter a particular area. More people are arrested for breaches of exclusion areas than for anything else.
A breach of an ASBI is regarded as a Contempt of Court and is punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment. Seek legal advice if you receive an application for an ASBI or for a committal to prison following the making of an ASBI. Many Defendants receive the ASBI after the Landlord has already been to Court. A ‘without notice’ order has been made but the Court will always relist the application for a further hearing in 7 days or so. If you receive such papers you should look through them carefully to see when the relisted court hearing is. This is your opportunity to say to the Court why the order should not be made or to make representations about a particular aspect of the order and how this will be inconvenient for you i.e. you may live in the exclusion area or have family or friends there
If you or anyone you know may need help and information in relation to anti-social behaviour, then please get in touch. For more information on our legal services for tenants please click here.