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Closure orders

This content applies to England

Closure of premises associated with nuisance or disorder.

Introduction

With effect from 20 October 2014, new closure powers to close premises came into force for the purpose of dealing with, or preventing, public nuisance and disorder.[1] This power consolidated and simplified previously available provisions relating to closure of premises, which were repealed, with saving and transitional provisions,[2] from the same date.

The government has issued Reform of anti-social behaviour powers: statutory guidance for frontline professionals

The process to close premises comprises two stages - the issuing of a closure notice followed by the issuing of a closure order.

Closure notice

A closure notice prohibits access to the premises for the period specified in the notice.

Only the police or a local authority can initiate the process to close premises which are causing antisocial behaviour, if they reasonably believe that there is, or is likely to be:[3]

  • a nuisance to members of the public, or
  • disorder relating to the premises and in its vicinity.

In addition, the notice must be necessary to prevent occurrence or re-occurrence of the nuisance or disorder.

Before issuing a closure notice, the police or local authority must inform the owner, landlord and anyone living on the premises. They must also consult any person or agency they consider appropriate.

The notice must:

  • state that access by any person other than the owner and someone 'habitually' living on the premises is prohibited
  • state that failure to comply with the notice is a criminal offence
  • provide details of where and when the Magistrates' Court will consider the notice for the purpose of issuing a closure order, and
  • provide details of local organisations able to provide housing and legal advice.

A notice is valid for a maximum of 48 hours. It can be cancelled or varied. In order to be confirmed as a closure order, the police or local authority must apply to the Magistrates' Court.

Closure order

A closure order can prohibit access to the premises, or part of them:

  • at all times, or at specified times only
  • by everyone (including the tenant and other residents), or by specified persons only.

A closure order can be made for a maximum of three months. However, the police or local authority can apply, before expiry of the original term, for an extension up to a (overall) maximum of six months. 

A Magistrates' Court can make a closure order only if it is satisfied that:[4]

  • a person has engaged, or is likely to engage, in disorder, antisocial or criminal behaviour on the premises
  • the use of the premises is, or is likely to be, associated with disorder or nuisance to members of the public, and
  • the order is necessary to prevent the occurrence, or re-occurrence, of the disorder, nuisance or antisocial/criminal behaviour.

Breach of a closure order without reasonable excuse is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment and/or a fine.[5]

In addition, breach of a closure order (prohibiting access to the tenant's property for more than 48 hours) by a secure or assured tenant, or by someone living in the property or visiting, can lead to eviction under the mandatory ground for antisocial behaviour (see the pages Mandatory ASB ground: secure tenancies and Mandatory ASB ground: Assured tenancies for more information).  

Notices and orders under the Sexual Offences Act 2003

A similar regime for the closure of premises is in force under Part 2A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. In relation to specified prostitution, pornography and child sex offences:

  • the police can issue a closure notice[6]
  • a Magistrates' Court can make a closure order for a period of up to six months.[7]

Tenant's rights and responsibilities during closure

The relevant legislation says nothing about the effect of a closure order on a tenant's rights and obligations under a tenancy agreement. However, the tenant will presumably remain liable for rent, but be unable to claim housing benefit for the property during the closure period.

Occupiers made homeless by a closure order can make a homelessness application, although they may be considered intentionally homeless. It should be noted that a tenant's inability to control her/his children's behaviour might not justify an intentional homelessness decision.[8]

Although the rights under the European Convention on Human Rights have to be considered when making a closure order, it has been held that the making of such an order is a proportionate response to the misuse of premises for criminal activities.[9]

[1] see Part 4, Ch. 3, Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014; Anti-social  Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (Commencement No.7, Saving and Transitional Provisions) Order 2014 SI 2014/1590.

[2] see s.93 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

[3] s.76 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

[4] s.80 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

[5] s.86 Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

[6] s.136B Sexual Offences Act 2003 as amended by Sch.6 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014; s.136BA Sexual Offences Act 2003 as inserted by Sch.6 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

[7] s.136D Sexual Offences Act 2003 as amended by Sch.6 of the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014; s.136E Sexual Offences Act 2003.

[8] Griffiths v St. Helens MBC, 28 July 2004, St. Helens CC.

[9] R (on the application of Leary) v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police [2012] EWHC 639 (Admin).

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