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ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR BILL HOLDS FIRM

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The government has held firm on plans to make it easier for tenants of public housing to be evicted for anti-social...
The government has held firm on plans to make it easier for tenants of public housing to be evicted for anti-social behaviour.

An alliance ranging from the Liberal Democrats to housing charity Shelter and the Law Society had challenged proposals in the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill for 'demoted tenancies', which allow landlords to seek possession for any reason.

The government wants to encourage landlords, including councils and registered social landlords, to use demoted tenancies as an alternative to suspended or outright possession orders, which would be harder to obtain.

The Liberal Democrats introduced amendments at the Bill's report stage in the House of Lords to prevent anyone whose tenancy has been demoted from being evicted unless they are guilty of further anti-social behaviour.

The amendments, backed by the Law Society and Shelter, were introduced because of fears a demoted tenant could be evicted for any minor breach of the tenancy conditions, such as a small amount of rent arrears.

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman Baroness Hamwee told the Lords: 'We have a concern that tenants who have addressed their anti-social behaviour since being put on a demoted tenancy, in which case the government has achieved its objective, could still be made homeless as a result of a breach of the more stringent tenancy conditions that would then apply, in particular those relating to rent arrears.'

But government spokesman Lord Bassam said the amendments would make worthless the whole principle of demoting tenancies, as landlords would have to return to court to prove there had been further acts of anti-social behaviour.

He said: 'Demotion is not a soft option. As well as being a warning and an incentive to behave, it is a real sanction. The tenant, through his or her actions, has lost security. We want him to understand that this may have serious consequences.'

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