Open letter to Grant Shapps: ASB, time for a rethink?
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Dear Rt. Hon Grant Shapps,
I read with interest the recent research from Housemark that revealed UK landlords are dealing with around 300,000 ASB cases each year at an estimated cost of £300 million a year. Maybe given these shocking statistics it's time to do things differently?
Imagine feeling trapped in your home because of your neighbour's intimidating behaviour, violence and death threats. Feeling scared of living in your own home, knowing your neighbour has previous convictions for firearm offences and is facing offensive weapon charges. Your children are terrified because the neighbour's 8 year-old daughter has hit them and passed on threatening messages. Even when the neighbour is charged for the death threats and bail conditions require them to live elsewhere the nightmare continues as you know at some point they're going to return.
The scenario above is not fiction, it's an example of what Bromford's front line housing professionals have had to deal with and encounter on a regular basis. As would be expected, Bromford commenced the toughest possible legal proceedings with the aim of evicting this anti-social and violent tenant and his partner.
Unfortunately, the legal process leading to eviction in a "typical" case of ASB can take up to A YEAR. So we urge you in Government to help us and long suffering victims by speeding up the process.
We believe the current legal system does work, but provision should be made to fast-track all but the most complex cases in TWO WEEKS and not having to wait for them to have been criminally convicted of an indictable offence.
Yes, this may require some additional investment in our court system but we believe this investment would be repaid. How? By reducing the time and money our front line people spend dealing with the repeat problems created by offenders while their evictions are working their way through the courts and by easing the often terrible strain on victims of ASB.
In the most extreme case, each week of delay can cost £450 in time spent on customer contact, partnership meetings/discussions, phone calls etc., and if the eviction process takes a year as often is the case, that adds up to more than £22,000. In addition we often find that following an eviction for anti-social behaviour a further £10,000 is incurred to put right property damage. That's over £30,000 in all for each ASB case, money that could be better spent elsewhere for example funding 3 apprenticeships that will help customers gain new skills to get them into work.
Dealing with eviction cases in a fast, decisive way will send a clear message to perpetrators that their behaviour will not be tolerated. It will also release precious homes for people who really deserve them.
Hopefully, you will see the merit in our argument and lobby for the changes we seek. I look forward to hearing your views.
Nick Cummins, Executive Director
Read the Inside Housing article - Landlord calls for fast-tracking of ASB cases