‘We do not tolerate anti-social behaviour’ – it’s in the small print of every tenancy agreement and if you’re caught breaking the rules, can land you into serious trouble – including a criminal record and eviction.And that’s not just for vandalism or noise pollution, but also drug use, with councils across England now campaigning over the use of cannabis – which can legally land you an eviction order – even if consumed behind closed doors.
In Merseyside, Liverpool, a network of housing providers have this summer teamed up with authorities and fire services to launch a ‘Use it? Lose it!’ campaign warning tenants that they could be on the verge of losing their home if caught using the substance in their property.
The awareness initiative will see posters and leaflets distributed to tenants and comes after a series of house fires in the area caused by cannabis use and farms.Donna Kelly, regional director at LHT, is leading the campaign and says: “Cannabis use in rented properties, particularly those with communal areas, can be a real nuisance to residents. Not only is it illegal, it is also often linked to other anti-social behaviour.
“While we are always here to offer support to residents with drug problems, we are also concerned about the impact of cannabis use on the wider community.
“Nobody wants to live next door to these houses and we would ask that if you believe someone is using a property for this purpose, please tell us so we can take positive action and find those responsible for setting them up.”
ARLA, the Association of Residential Letting Agents , also emphasises that drug use is against the law and where it’s suspected, could lead to both a criminal conviction and eviction in a short period.
“Smoking cannabis in a rental property is breaking three standard terms and conditions on almost every tenancy agreement,” David Cox of ARLA Propertymark explains.
“Most agreements will state that you’re not allowed to use the property for illegal or immoral purposes.”
Cox adds that even if you’re renting the property and consuming the drug inside your home, it still provides grounds for eviction.
“There is usually a specific clause which says tenants must not consume illegal substances in the property, and, subject to the landlord’s consent, most contracts prohibit any smoking in the property.”
Charlotte Herring, anti-social behaviour manager at UK housing association, One Housing, adds: “Cannabis smoking in our properties is illegal, a fire risk and a breach of our tenancy agreement.
“It also tends to attract wider anti-social behaviour that may affect other residents. Our course of action will be dependent on the case.”
“If we suspect cannabis smoking we will alert the police, in case it is part of a wider investigation, and investigate ourselves. In general, if we prove cannabis smoking we will both give a warning and offer support to help the resident stop.
“Legal action is a last resort as we would rather help someone stop but if the resident persists it may result in termination of the tenancy.”
What could happen if you’re caught out
You landlord has the right to do any of the following:
- Contact neighbours and housing officers for evidence
- Issue you a formal warning
- Notify the police – as a rule, landlords, housing associations and local authorities are legally required to take this step.
- If it’s a housing association, you may be referred to a support group.
- Ask the courts for an eviction order. In most cases, where there is sufficient evidence, the order will be granted.
I’m a private landlord and suspect anti-social behaviour: What can I do?
Citizens Advice says landlords can follow any of the guidelines below:
- Write to the tenant with a warning and ask the police or the local authority to take action – see the charity’s guide on what the police can do .
- Go to court to get the person behaving in an anti-social way evicted, if they are a tenant or leaseholder. You’ll have to request an eviction order.
A spokesman for the National Landlords Association adds that, if landlords suspect cannabis use, they should “arrange for a visit to the property, provided they have given the tenant advance warning”.
“If they see or smell what they believe to be evidence of cannabis use, they should remind and warn the tenant/s that such actions are in violation of the tenancy agreement.
“If, when they next visit the property, they see the same evidence they may then wish to resort to serving a section 21, or eviction, notice.”
I’m a neighbour and want to report anti-social behaviour – how can I do so?
If you want to complain about a local authority or housing association tenant, you will normally be able to do this through a housing officer.
If they are not a local authority or housing association tenant, you may have to contact their landlord or the landlord’s agent.
You can search for the owner of a property using the Land Registry’s database – but at a cost of £3.
Alternatively, may choose to contact the police. Any use of your information will be explained to you, however in most cases, all information us kept anonymous and confidential – meaning the tenant won’t be able to identify you.
I am the landlord. What can I do to stop cannabis being used at my property?
Chris Norris, of the National Landlords Association, said: “While we recommend taking references of prospective tenants from former employers or landlords before offering a tenancy, it can also be necessary to make checks on the property after they have moved in.
“These should be carried out quarterly if there are any concerns but make sure that you give the tenant or tenants sufficient notice beforehand so as not to disrupt privacy.
“Lastly, get to know the neighbours and local residents, as they can help alert you should they either see or smell what they suspect to be cannabis use on the property.”
READ THE FULL STORY BELOW