9. Evidence Required in Cases of Antisocial Behaviour
9.1 Antisocial behaviour is a common reason for suspending applicants from receiving offers of housing. Landlords may wish to apply the same criteria as those used to operate the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 (“the 2001 Act”) grounds for eviction, namely:
- the nature, frequency and length of the conduct;
- the extent to which the conduct arises because of acts or omissions of people other than the tenant;
- the effect the conduct is having on other people; and
- any other action taken, or capable of being taken, by the landlord to address the conduct.
9.2 Landlords will need to be aware that an applicant who has been suspended for a period of time under section 20B has a right to appeal to the sheriff. They will therefore want to bear in mind that the evidence will need to be sufficiently robust to satisfy the court that it is reasonable to impose the suspension.
9.3 Landlords also need to consider the purpose of the suspension. For example a landlord may wish to consider whether preventing an applicant who has a history of antisocial behaviour from accessing housing would encourage the applicant to modify their behaviour. In such a case, it may be more suitable to provide housing with a support package in place, which the applicant has agreed to accept, and/or to give a short Scottish secure tenancy in order to encourage the applicant to modify their behaviour.
Short Scottish Secure Tenancies for Antisocial Behaviour
The 2014 Act amends the 2001 Act with regard to short Scottish secure tenancies (short SSTs) issued on the grounds of antisocial behaviour. Social landlords are now able to convert an existing Scottish secure tenancy (SST) to a short Scottish secure tenancy, or can give a short SST to new tenants, where the tenant, a household member or a visitor, has been involved in antisocial behaviour in or near the house within the last three years. Landlords no longer need to have obtained an eviction order for antisocial behaviour or an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO). In these cases a short SST must be given for a minimum period of 12 months to allow sufficient time for any support services offered to the tenant to help address the antisocial behaviour to take effect.
The legislation allows social landlords to extend a short SST which was created due to antisocial behaviour by an additional six months. This means that short SSTs created due to antisocial behaviour could last up to 18 months.
These tenancies still convert automatically to a full Scottish secure tenancy after 12 months, if there has been no repetition of antisocial conduct and no action is taken by the landlord to extend them to 18 months. Landlords can however still take eviction action against the tenant during this period if it becomes necessary. If the tenant refuses to vacate the house, the court must give an order for recovery of possession if the landlord has followed the correct procedures, whether the tenancy has reached its expiry or whether repossession is sought earlier than that because tenancy obligations have been broken.
The use of short SSTs can benefit tenants by giving them a further chance to change their behaviour and sustain their tenancy. It can also help landlords who are concerned about offering a permanent tenancy to tenants who behave antisocially where there is a risk that offending behaviour might recur.
Further information can be found in the statutory guidance Short Scottish Secure Tenancies for Antisocial Behaviour and Other Miscellaneous Changes to Short Scottish Secure Tenancies.