New Anti-social Behaviour legislation - Home Office guidance for frontline professionals issued
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 13 March 2014 and the Home Office has now released its long anticipated guidance for frontline professionals. Whilst some key elements of the Act are already in force (most notably the new amendments to Ground 14 of the Housing Act 1988), it has now been confirmed that the bulk of the new powers will come into force from 20 October 2014. Registered providers of social housing should consider their procedures and policies in light of the changes brought about by the Act and their use of these new powers from October onwards, and we will be in further contact shortly as to how Bevan Brittan can assist with any changes needed.
This wide-ranging legislation contains a number of important new measures for providers of social housing, including:
Where one of the above conditions is satisfied, the court must grant a possession order (subject to any available human rights defence raised by the tenant, including proportionality) so long as the correct procedure has been followed. The court will not be able to postpone possession to a date later than 14 days after the making of the order except in the most exceptional circumstances. To take advantage of these new powers and avoid procedural challenges by tenants, it will be essential for social landlords to comply with the requirements of the legislation to the letter.
In particular, strict new notice requirements will apply where these new grounds are used. Whilst not bound by the terms of the legislation to do so, the Home Office guidance indicates that registered providers of social housing will be expected to make a review procedure available to give tenants the right to challenge the decision to seek possession under the new mandatory ground.
Whilst the new powers to be introduced by the legislation are likely to be welcomed by social landlords on the whole, they do bring with them additional responsibilities. The best strategy for social landlords will be to plan early for the changes and to equip yourselves upfront to ensure you are ready to deal with legal cases post 20 October 2014. This will require your staff to be conversant with the new rules and powers, and your policies and processes will need to be revisited to ensure they are compliant with the Act. Those that do so are likely to prosper, whereas those that don't are likely to find themselves embroiled in legal challenges by tenants and their advisers.