Nearly one in five households in England live in the private rented sector, with 17% of the total living in the social rented sector. Only 65% of people in the UK housing market own and occupy their homes.
That’s a staggering number of people renting their homes from others, whether they are private landlords or part of a social housing regulator. There are plenty of opportunities out there for savvy landlords.
Yet, with that number, there are also ample opportunities for things to go wrong, and as a landlord, you need to know how to deal with residential evictions, especially if your tenant is displaying antisocial behaviour.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about antisocial behaviour, why it’s important to address, as well as how to go about filing for tenant evictions.
What is Antisocial Behaviour?
Any behaviour that has a detrimental impact on the quality of a resident’s life is considered antisocial. It could be anything from a minor annoyance to a significant assault or other criminal activity.
Both residents and non-residents can cause anti-social behaviour, and it might affect both parties. While it may not be possible to do much about people outside of your property, there are steps you can (and must) take to ensure your tenants are respectful and behaving responsibly.
Some more specific examples of antisocial behaviour include:
- Loud music
- Shouting, swearing, or banging on walls
- Noisy or unruly dogs
- Aggressive behaviour and language
- Physical violence against people and property
- Hate speech and behaviour
- Drug misuse and alcohol-related problems
- Vandalism and graffiti
- Dangerous parking
- Environmental issues like rubbish dumping
Take any complaints you may hear about your tenant’s behaviour seriously. Bad tenants can make life very difficult for their neighbours and end up costing you a lot of money.
While you may miss the signs leading up to it, even after doing your due diligence, there are several ways you can prevent the behaviour before it even begins.
Prevention Before a Cure
Before you offer anyone a tenancy, be sure to run reference checks and meet your potential tenants to see if they exhibit any initial antisocial behaviour. You can reach out to their previous landlord or employer for a character reference.
You should also ensure your leasing agreement includes a provision for antisocial behaviour. This way you’re protected if an issue arises, but it also means you are responsible for handling those problems. Excessive noise is also frequently associated with antisocial behaviour. Landlords may want to consider soundproofing their homes (especially in flats) to alleviate the problem.
Some local governments provide tenant certification programmes that allow landlords to contact the government to see if their potential renters are known to be excellent tenants.
Techniques for Managing Antisocial Behaviour
Sometimes, despite your diligence and planning, concerns may still arise. Talking to the tenant as soon as there appears to be a serious concern with their behaviour is important as a preventative strategy for landlords.
You should emphasize that such behaviour is unacceptable and notify tenants they are in violation of their leasing agreements. Where many conversations are taking place, landlords should make it a point to remind tenants of the penalties they may face if the behaviour persists.
It’s also a good idea for landlords to document any interactions they have with their tenants, as this can serve as important proof if the problem persists. On top of documenting interactions, keep a record of any steps you took to address any issues brought to you. This could include:
- Thoroughly investigating complaints
- Writing to your tenants to explain why their behaviour is a cause for concern
- Give actionable advice and steps and have your tenant sign their assent
- Give advice on noise reduction
- Provide a warning that they are in breach of their tenancy agreement
- Offer support to your tenant and give contact information for people who can help them
- If illegal behaviour is occurring, speak to the police
- Apply to the county court for a formal injunction
- Apply to a secondary mediation service
If the issues continue, you may need to consider filing eviction papers against your tenant.
Understanding Residential Evictions
To legally evict a tenant, you must first issue a notice to the renters. In cases like this, consider serving a Section 8 notice, which requires you to provide certain justifications set out in Schedule 2 of the Housing Act of 1988.
If you are dealing with a serious case of anti-social behaviour, ground 7A may be useful. We encourage you to get legal counsel to ensure your tenant notices are formatted in the correct way.
You will be expected to prove that your tenant’s bad behaviour has, in fact, been antisocial. The following examples of necessary evidence may be useful:
- Photographic evidence of property damage because of the antisocial behaviour
- Statements from persons who the anti-social behaviour has affected
- Professional witness testimonies or police or environmental health officer reports
- Written incident diaries
- Any relevant correspondence with the renter about their behaviour
If your proceedings will need to go to court, you’re going to want all the evidence possible at your disposal to prove that you are not evicting them on poor grounds.
The Eviction Process
It’s important to note that eviction should be a last resort, and there are plenty of steps to take for both parties before arriving here. The exact procedure for eviction will depend on the tenancy agreement and its terms.
With that in mind, however, every eviction process follows three routine steps. These are:
- Court action
- Bailiff intervention
Most of the time, you will be required to serve notice to your tenants about your intent to evict them. Following that, if they do not leave, you can get the courts involved, and if the tenants will still not leave, bailiffs may be required to ensure they leave the property.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy
There are two different shorthold tenancies. These are periodic tenancies, which run week by week or for longer periods, like month to month. These have no set termination dates. You also get term tenancies, which run for a specific period of time.
If your tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy, you must follow a specific procedure in order to evict them. You will need to:
- If you want the property back after a certain term, give your tenants a Section 21 notice. If they’ve broken the terms of the tenancy, serve them with a Section 8 notice.
- In the event that your renters do not leave by the set date and owe rent, you can ask the court for a normal possession order. If they don’t have any outstanding rent, you can file for an accelerated possession order.
- If your tenants refuse to leave, apply for a possession warrant, which allows bailiffs to remove them from your property.
Excluded Tenancies or Licenses
If your tenant has an excluded tenancy or license, for example, they may live with you, then you do not need to go to court to remove them. All you need to do is give them “reasonable notice.”
If your tenants pay rent weekly, reasonable notice is normally the duration of the rental payment term. For example, if they pay rent weekly, you can give them one week’s notice. It is unnecessary for the notice to be in writing. Once this notice period has expired, you can then proceed with changing the locks on their rooms, even if they still have belongings there.
Assured and Regulated Tenancies
Your tenants may have an assured or regulated tenancy if they began their tenancy before February 27, 1997. To remove them, you’ll have to follow different rules, and they’ll be more protected against eviction.
This type of tenancy is the only kind where a landlord will need to apply in court before serving notice. You can only evict a tenant on an assured tenancy if you can provide a legal reason for eviction to the court. In some cases, the court will also be required to decide whether it is reasonable for you to be evicted.
Eviction of an assured or regulated tenant is illegal without a court order.
Getting Professional Help
Dealing with housing problems can be tiring, stressful, and expensive. Maybe you’ve tried everything and don’t know where to go from here. Let Able Investigations and Enforcement Services help you with your residential evictions.
We know just how daunting the process is, and you want someone on your side during the whole ordeal. Contact us today and find out how we can help you.