Housing options for people experiencing antisocial behaviour

The desired outcomes, the security of tenure of the occupier, and the seriousness of the offences must be considered when deciding on the best next steps.

This content applies to England

People who are reluctant to take action

People experiencing harassment, illegal eviction and/or antisocial behaviour may be reluctant to take action against the perpetrator for a number of reasons, including stress and anxiety caused by incidents of harassment or violence.

A person who has experienced antisocial behaviour may also be fearful of retaliation by the perpetrator. Advisers should explain the practical steps the person may be able to take if they want to take action, the legal remedies available, and the alternative accommodation options if they choose to leave.

Tenants with limited security of tenure

Checking the occupier's housing status is often the first step in helping someone decide what action may be appropriate. This is particularly important in cases of harassment under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977 and/or illegal eviction, as an occupier's security of tenure dictates how a tenancy can be brought to an end legally.

Excluded occupiers

If an occupier is an excluded occupier[1] (for example if they share accommodation with the landlord), the landlord can end the tenancy simply by giving reasonable notice. Excluded occupiers are outside of the protection of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977[2] once reasonable notice has expired or their contract has come to an end, and the landlord is permitted to evict the occupier peacefully, without a court order. This might include changing the locks while the occupier is out.

It may still be possible for an excluded occupier to take action against violence or persistent harassment using other legislation; for example the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Criminal Law Act 1977 and/or the Criminal Damage Act 1971.

Assured shorthold tenants

Assured shorthold tenants have limited security of tenure. Although it is possible to stop an illegal eviction from being carried out using the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, this only ensures that the occupier is able to remain in the accommodation until the landlord seeks possession under the assured shorthold procedure for recovering possession.[3]

Landlords seeking to use this procedure must give the tenant at least two months' notice in writing,[4] and then get a court order.

People who need to leave their homes

People may prefer to seek alternative accommodation rather than to take legal action against the perpetrators. This may be because of fear of retaliation, or because of conditions that make it unreasonable to remain in the property, or simply because they want to move.

It may be possible to move to other accommodation and still take action against the perpetrator, depending on the legal remedy being sought.

Moving into alternative accommodation

People may prefer to move into alternative accommodation if the situation becomes intolerable. This may be an appropriate solution for some tenants (for example those with little security of tenure). They may lose (or gain) some rights, depending on the type of tenancy they have and the type of tenancy they move to.

Tenants of local authorities or housing associations may have the option to seek a transfer or exchange their home with other local authority or housing association tenants.

Making a homelessness application

If someone who has experienced antisocial behaviour becomes homeless, they may be able to make a homelessness application.

An applicant is regarded as statutorily homeless if it is not reasonable to remain in their accommodation because they, or someone they usually lives with or who might reasonably be expected to live with them is being subjected to domestic or other violence or threats of violence that are likely to be carried out.[5]

The Homelessness Code of Guidance also states that accommodation may not be reasonable to continue to occupy if the applicant is suffering severe harassment.[6]

Authorities should also accept an applicant as homeless if they have accommodation but cannot secure entry (for example, because of an illegal eviction by the landlord).[7] The local authority cannot refuse to assist someone who is homeless in this situation even though legal remedies may be available.[8]

People experiencing violence

Someone experiencing violence may be able to bring proceedings against the perpetrator under criminal or civil law. This might result in an injunction, a claim for damages and/or a claim under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

The local authority cannot make judgements about a person's decision to take action under criminal or civil law when deciding whether they are homeless. [9] The Code advises local authorities that in all cases involving violence the safety of the applicant and their household should be the primary consideration at all stages of decision making as to whether the applicant remains in their own home.[10]

Female clients experiencing domestic violence can also contact Women's Aid to find emergency accommodation in a refuge.

Last updated: 18 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    ss. 30-31 Housing Act 1998.

  • [2]

    s.3A Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

  • [3]

    s.21 Housing Act 1988.

  • [4]

    s.21(1)(b) Housing Act 1988.

  • [5]

    s.177(1) Housing Act 1996.

  • [6]

    para 6.39 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, February 2018.

  • [7]

    s.175(2)(a) Housing Act 1996.

  • [8]

    para 6.21 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, February 2018.

  • [9]

    Bond v Leicester CC, 23 October 2001, Court of Appeal.

  • [10]

    para 21.31 Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, MHCLG, February 2018.