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Some landlords more authoritarian now, claims lawyer

The eviction ban may have made life less stressful for tenants but a housing lawyer claims otherwise.

David Renton, writing in the right-of-centre political magazine The Spectator, says some landlords have become less tolerant of tenant behaviour, and quicker to brand acts as anti-social in order to seek possession.

“Since the start of lockdown, there has been an extraordinary increase in the number of tenants facing applications from landlords to control the terms under which people live in their homes” he writes.

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“Sometimes the playing of loud music is given as the reason. Other times it's because the TV is left on when neighbours are trying to sleep. Perhaps they have had visitors who slammed the front door of their block. But while the circumstances are often mundane, the effect on those who find themselves kicked out can be devastating” Renton adds.

Citing a case which sounds like a dispute involving a social housing landlord, he continues: “In my work as a housing lawyer, I represented Gaspar, a tenant who suffers Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after he was attacked in his home. Gaspar’s illness causes him to cry out. The shouts are quiet, but they are strange. They disturb those who hear them.

“A judge had already tried to deal with Gaspar by evicting him from his home for 30 days, presumably as a warning. He survived that month by sleeping in parks or on buses. The day before the order expired, he went back to his home, only to collect the medication which blocks the worst of the symptoms. On his way out of the building the police stopped him: a neighbour had seen him and complained.

“When, finally, Gaspar managed to obtain a lawyer it was no particular challenge to show that none of the orders affecting him should ever have been made. A psychiatrist’s report made it clear that Gaspar knew whether he took his pills or not; but what he could not control was his behaviour. 

“He wasn’t aware of the noises he made, and couldn’t restrain them. Expecting him to obey a court order was a waste of everyone’s time.”

Renton writes that under pressure from a case like that, possibly with neighbours complaining, it’s easy to see why landlords seek possession or other controls over tenant behaviour.

He goes on: “Gaspar’s is not an unusual case: I have represented clients in so much distress they wouldn’t leave their home to go to court, tenants who suffered much worse illnesses but which had been in apparent remission for more than a decade.

“In the pandemic, housing law has become both more 'social democratic' (where tenants have been unable to afford their rent, they have been shielded for some time from the consequences of their arrears) and more 'authoritarian' (much more of it is about neighbours complaining about their fellow tenants). 

“The good and the bad co-exist, side-by-side.”

Want to comment on this story? If so...if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

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    Is this some sort of joke. Majority of his article about Gaspar. Well of course we are sympathetic to this one particular person but why try to straw man the whole anti social debate. If you playing music loud, slamming doors or having rows with your missus you deserve to be out and in double quick time. Other tenants and owner occupiers DO NOT deserve this or should put up with inconsiderate tenants. Out and within days imo

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    Quite right. Playing music loud, slamming doors or having rows with your missus is a privilege that must be reserved for owner occupiers.

     
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    Echis.

    Like it or not, this sort of problem is much more prevalent in tenanted properties and other owners are typically much readier to seek available assistance with local authorities more eager to apply sanctions to antisocial owners than to antisocial tenants.

    If you don't believe me, check out LA's reasons for limiting numbers of rental properties, a key one being to reduce incidences of antisocial behaviour and "improve" a specific locality.

     
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    Leave vulnerable people with problems to the council to home, their responsibility, not ours.

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    Another week starting off another dig at LL's. Another Tenant Champion to add to Acorn, Generation Rent, Citizens advice & Shelter etc, (where's ours). Neighbors complain when it happens, they have to when Music & parties, shouting going on. The bit I don't like is when they keep making phone calls in the middle of the night making all sorts of allegations leaving messages but withhold their Name & Number. Council out in the night recording the noise, Police attending a number of times blame the LL his fault ? (no authority no control). What about all our Stress or Post Traumatic no mention he is oblivious to that I suppose we are not Human. The LL's are much more Authoritarian, extraordinary increase to control the terms under which people live ?. What Authority would that be ? we have completely no control by law having all LL's rights taken away, we can't even go there without their permission. So one particular Tenant has some medical issues unfortunately hardly any relevance to the industry over all.

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    The "good and bad co-exist". WHY?

    Why should the good have to tolerate the bad?

    Do gooders forget that every single antisocial tenant is probably causing misery for at least a dozen neighbours who are the ones needing consideration and protection.

    Why do they think the decent majority has to tolerate the behaviour of the small minority causing the problems?

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    So landlords/neighbours have to accept tenants that act like savages now? As usual, they jumping on the mental health bandwagon.

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