Anti-social behaviour crackdown planned for Dublin city social housing

Council has had ‘no teeth’ to evict problem tenants due to hiatus in legislation

Under the new strategy, the council could seek possession order evicting all tenants of a property. Photograph: iStock

Under the new strategy, the council could seek possession order evicting all tenants of a property. Photograph: iStock

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A new strategy to beef up enforcement against anti-social behaviour in Dublin social housing complexes, including refusing housing and using exclusion orders and evictions, is being devised by Dublin City Council.

The council had “no teeth” to evict problem tenants for a period of seven years up to 2018, Mick Clarke of the council’s anti-social policy unit said, due to a hiatus in legislation, with eviction cases only recently coming before the courts.

The new strategy would see the council becoming more proactive in targeting people with a history or likelihood of engagement in anti-social and criminal behaviour to keep them out of its housing estates and flat complexes, and avoid the eviction process.

A court ruling in 2011 against a local authority “notice to quit” required the enactment of new legislation to enable councils to evict tenants. The legislation was published in 2014 but was not fully in force until 2018, Mr Clarke said.

Strategy

“From 2011 we really had no mechanism to terminate a tenancy,” he told councillors this week. “Between 2011 and 2018 we effectively had no teeth, we could huff and puff but we couldn’t deliver any action.” This created a “legacy” he said “of communities believing we weren’t doing anything”.

While the ultimate sanction of eviction is again available to the council, the anti-social behaviour strategy will concentrate on early interventions to deal with problem tenants, or to prevent their entry into the council’s social housing estates.

Information relating to anti-social behaviour of applicants “including information received from recognised local community groups” will be considered “and may lead to refusal”, the draft strategy states.

“We will refuse to make an allocation of social housing, or will defer the making of an allocation, where we consider that a household (or member of the household) has been engaged in anti-social behaviour” or if providing housing “would not be in the interest of good estate management”, it states.

‘Tenancy warning’

The policy would also apply to applications to take over the tenancy of a deceased relative or for tenants seeking the housing assistance payment.

The draft strategy categorises anti-social behaviours into three levels ranging from activities such as dog fouling, to racism, to drugs offences and organised crime.

Where existing tenants were engaged in anti-social or criminal behaviour, they may be issued with a “tenancy warning”. If the anti-social behaviour continues within 12 months the council may start eviction proceedings.

The council could seek an “exclusion order” if a particular member of the household is the source of the anti-social behaviour, or a possession order evicting all tenants.

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