Strong backing for plans to tackle anti-social tenants

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PLANS by the Scottish Government to give landlords more power to crack down on anti-social behaviour have been backed by Berwickshire Housing Association.

Chief executive Helen Forsyth says she would welcome any legislations that “will assist us in proactively challenging poor behaviour” in Berwickshire.

A consultation on the proposals revealed that more than 90 per cent of tenants groups and landlords support landlords being able to take into account previous anti-social behaviour when allocating social housing.

And 86 per cent of tenants groups and 93 per cent of landlords also felt that eviction from social housing should be simpler for serious cases of anti-social behaviour.

Statistics from the independent Scottish Housing Regulator indicate housing associations recorded around 24,000 complaints about anti-social behaviour in 2009-10.

Berwickshire Housing recorded 471 reports of anti-social/nuisance behaviour over that period, resulting in one full Anti-Social Behaviour order being issued.

This fell to 101 reports in 2010-11, with no ASBOs requiring to be imposed. But for 2011-12, the figure rose slightly to 128 with one interim and two full ASBOS granted. Berwickshire Housing Association has had three of its tenants issued with Anti-Social Behaviour Orders in the past year.

The proposed changes will affect the way 600,000 houses in the social rented sector are allocated and managed.

Ms Forsyth is supportive of any measure which could reduce anti-social behaviour in Berwickshire.

She said: “We welcome any legislation which will help us to enable communities to live peacefully together and to tackle poor behaviour more quickly than we have been able to do in the past.

“If this legislation will assist us in proactively challenging poor behaviour then it has to be a good thing.”

An expert group made up of tenants representatives, landlords and others has been established to help take forward all of the proposals in the consultation, which will inform final decisions about what will feature in the forthcoming Housing Bill.

Housing minister Keith Brown added: “Anti-social behaviour can have a corrosive impact on individuals and communities.

“The Scottish Government has worked hard with landlords and tenants to develop the proposed measures for changing the way affordable rented housing is allocated and managed.

“Clearly, from these responses, good tenants who currently feel powerless to deal with bad neighbours want to draw a line in the sand by backing a new law that will help root out those that heap misery on communities across Scotland.”