A councillor has issued a warning to landlords and tenants who allow anti-social tenants to “run wild”.
Labour councillor Peter Atkinson, who represents North Portslade, said that he was “extremely concerned” by the growing number of complaints about nuisance neighbours.
In particular, residents have had problems with neighbours who rent their property through a letting agency.
In the past Brighton and Hove City Council has worked with Sussex Police to serve closure notices and obtain closure orders in a number of cases.
“This then means that no one is really keeping an eye on the tenants in the property and, as long as the rent is collected, neither property owner nor letting agent are interested in how their tenant is behaving.”
Councillor Atkinson has got involved in numerous cases over the past few years where the tenants of the property owner have engaged in anti-social behaviour.
- using cannabis or skunk on a daily basis, causing a strong and long-lasting noxious smell for nearby neighbours
- holding regular noisy parties that go on late into the night
- indulging in excessive shouting, arguing and swearing
- behaving aggressively and confrontationally when challenged about their activities
- assuming they have a right to park outside the property and becoming angry and abusive when this isn’t possible
- taking to social media to attack and ridicule their often elderly neighbours.
Councillor Atkinson has also been made aware of tyres being let down and cars scratched although it’s impossible to prove who did it.
He said: “I will always offer to contact the letting agents on behalf of a resident but there is often nothing that can be done from a legal perspective.
“The letting agent will just say they are not responsible for anything other than collecting the rent and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to contact the actual owner of the property.
“This type of situation causes misery and upset for the neighbours and will sometimes mean that they move rather than face the daily grief week after week.”
Councillor Atkinson has tried to work in conjunction with the council’s Community Safety Team and the police but they are often powerless to do much, if anything.
He said: “There is a real gap in the law on this issue.
“It is often seen as low-level anti-social behaviour and no one in authority is really that concerned about it but it can cause huge distress and mental health problems for someone on the receiving end.”
He is asking the council to get tougher and also issue advice to residents on what they can do in cases like this.
He added: “Keeping a diary is often the first piece of advice as continuous single acts of anti-social behaviour will add up to and provide strong evidence for the authorities to view and possibly act on.”
Council properties, either long term or short term, are better managed but have also presented problems during lockdown with the council not able to move people on, even if they have displayed extreme anti-social behaviour, due to covid regulations.
And, Councillor Atkinson said: “There are times when it is difficult to convince the Housing Team that someone has crossed the line so many times that they need to be moved.
“I always use the principle of ‘How would you feel living next door to this person or family?’ and that sometimes works.”
He said: “I experienced this personally some years ago with a family being housed on a temporary basis by the council in our street.
“They were dealing drugs, fighting, shouting and swearing continually and threatening residents as they walked past the house.
“It was truly awful and the council finally moved them due to homophobic and racist behaviour. It took quite some time though.
“No one should have to put up with this sort of behaviour on a daily basis.”