Anti-Social Behaviour Injunctions
News article published on: 29th January 2019
Landlords have the option to bring an injunction against tenants in the event they are committing anti-social behaviour. The injunction is brought under Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing 2014 (“the Act”). The thinking of the legislation is to prevent tenants from carrying out anti-social behaviour, which is often a term of their tenancy agreement.
What does this cover?
The definition of anti-social behaviour is any conduct which is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to any person. It can also be conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person in relation to that person’s occupation of residential premises. Finally it can also be conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person.
You will see by definition it is easy for the test to be made out. It is not only a broad definition but there is also a low threshold the Court needs to consider as to whether the injunction should be granted. The Court has to be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that there was anti-social behaviour and it is just and convenient to grant an injunction.
A Judge may be convinced, depending on the seriousness of the allegations, to grant an interim injunction whilst the matter is listed for trial.
In an effort to curb the misuse of the proceedings, the government provided guidance in December 2017
Whilst it is appreciated that legislation has been introduced to protect tenants, those without legal representation may end up agreeing to an injunction. There can be serious consequences if someone agrees to an injunction and later breaches the injunction. An undertaking (promise to the Court) may be enough for the landlord and persuade them not to pursue an injunction.
London Borough of Islington v Callaghan (Clerkenwell County Court) 2018
Osbornes recently represented the Defendant in London Borough of Islington v Callaghan (Clerkenwell County Court) 2018. The claim for an injunction was brought as a result of complaints made against the Defendant and the Defendant’s partner. The claim was only brought against the Defendant. It was argued that bringing an application for an injunction against the Defendant was a misuse of the Act, as the injunction should only be brought against the person alleged to have committed the anti-social behaviour. The Act does not allow for the landlord to obtain an injunction against a Defendant in an attempt to control a third party’s behaviour. The application for an injunction was discontinued. The Defendant agreed to give an undertaking whereby the Defendant agreed to not commit anti-social behaviour for 4.5 months.
Consequences of an Injunction
If a tenant is found to have breached an injunction, the landlord would be able to begin committal proceedings.
Optivo Ltd v Naylor County Cort at Maidstone EW Misc B5 (CC) 17 May 2018, was a case whereby the Defendant was subject to an injunction from 14 June 2017. At trial she admitted to breaching the injunction four times between August to November 2017. The language used was seen to be vile and there was a clear breach of the injunction. In the absence of any mitigating factors, a sentence of imprisonment for 13 weeks was imposed for an incident whereby the Defendant threatened to kill her neighbour. There were sentences of four and six week imprisonment for three other incidents but which were to run concurrently to the first. The last incident was in November 2017 and it was evident that the Defendant was able to control her behaviour. Therefore the sentence of imprisonment was suspended for a year on condition that she comply with the terms of injunction.
A telling point of this case is that the consequences of such behaviour IF improved can assist and result in a prison sentence being suspended. It is arguable that the suspended sentence is enough protection for the landlord, therefore any further action, subject to the tenant’s behaviour, would not be appropriate. However if the Court makes a finding that a tenant has breached an injunction the landlord is able to commence possession proceedings.
Possession proceedings can be brought on mandatory grounds if someone breaches an injunction. This means a Court must make an order for possession unless there is a Defence. However, if there is a finding of fact that the tenant has breached the injunction it may be difficult to defend such proceedings. There are some possible defences available for example if the landlord has not carried out the review procedure, an improvement in the tenant’s behaviour, any relevant health problems restricting the tenant’s ability to comply with the injunction or whether the conduct is serious enough to rely on mandatory grounds.
A tenant faced with either injunction or possession proceedings should seek legal advice immediately. To speak with one of our lawyers please contact us on 020 7485 8811 or fill in an online contact form.