Leaseholder in breach of lease. Causing serious problems. Can we do anything?

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    Leaseholder in breach of lease. Causing serious problems. Can we do anything?

    Hi all, I have a huge problem and am hoping for some input. The problem is as follows:

    Our block of 25 flats has four flats that are rented out to social housing tenants via a housing association that owns the leases. The rest of the leases are privately owned.

    We have never had any problems in the past 15 years… until now. Some new tenants moved into one of the HA flats and have been a nightmare. Domestic rows in the corridors and communal areas, screaming and shouting at all hours, letting drug dealers into the building, smoking weed in the flat (the smell permeated the whole building), breaking into the front door and their own flat when they lost their keys, etc. The police have attended on several occasions. On the most recent visit a drug deal had apparently gone wrong and the dealer had chased one of the tenants back to the building and then went on a rampage kicking on various doors of the flats trying to find out which one the tenant lived in. Some of the residents were terrified. There are children living in the building, disabled people, etc.

    Unfortunately the housing association is refusing to deal with the situation. They are "sympathetic" but say they can't evict the tenants without "evidence" and that they would have to take them to court and would likely lose as they will claim to be victims. The police won't allow us to see the numerous police reports because of "data protection" so we can't even provide those as evidence.

    My view is that the HA tenants are not our problem. The housing association is in breach of its lease by allowing these people to remain there and so it is the HA that we need to deal with. The lease has various clauses forbidding disturbing other residents, allowing illegal activites, etc.) Am I correct and if so, the question is how do we do this? We have a residents' management company and the freeholder (large property investment firm) is basically invisible.

    #2
    The housing association should be dealing with this pronto and yes, they would certainly be in breach. Police/Council can also put a closure order on the property if they get enough complaints
    Try the local council and get as many people as possible to complain. And obviously keep a diary of issues
    Good luck

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      #3
      Thanks @Section20z I don't think the council will do anything as it's a private building.(?) I looked up some info on closure orders but that seems to be done when there is a danger to the public. I was thinking (hoping) along the lines of forfeiture of the lease but I don't know much about that. The police are supposed to be ringing me but they've already said I can't see the report.
      We do know the tenants are on a starter contract so the HA is basically lying about having to take them to court (I think?).

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        #4
        Further to above, I found this information from Shelter. Does anyone know which "special form" on the link is the correct one?
        The tenants are currently on a starter contract on trial and if they "pass" they will be given an assured shorthold tenancy. The section 21 eviction process

        Your housing association doesn’t have to prove a legal reason to evict you during a starter tenancy. But they must follow the legal procedure outlined below.

        They can only use this process if you received the following documents at the start of your tenancy:
        • energy performance certificate
        • current gas safety record (if you have a gas supply in your home)
        1. Notice from the housing association

        Your housing association must give you a section 21 notice on a special form. They cannot give this notice within the first 4 months of your tenancy.

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          #5
          Housing association will invariably have a anti social behaviour clause and will be able to evict if they wish.
          Forfeiture can be lengthy but worth issuing the threat to the HA but you would be best employ a specialist in the process. You should be able to recover all your costs under the lease, and they may take more notice of a formal legal notice.

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            #6
            I totally sympathise with you, IMO private blocks should always remain owner/occupiers and rented for rentals only

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              #7
              Many years ago, our building had a similar problem at a ground floor flat that was rented to local council. The flat was occupied by a problem young lady, who had boy friends selling drugs after midnight from the flat. One of the lady residents ( mum with young children) living in the adjacent flat, made complaints to the local MP, who persuaded the local Council to move the tenant out to another address..

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                #8
                Thanks ... that is very useful advice.

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                  #9
                  It looks like the Housing Association is not going to deal with this. On the face of it they are "Investigating" but have said they have no intention of making these people homeless". Apparently moving them to different accommodation would just be shifting the problem onto someone else's doorstep (this is the closest they've come to admitting there is actually a problem).

                  Apparently their behaviour isn't bad enough to convince a judge to evict them. It seems they are waiting for these people or their "guests" to attack someone or do serious damage to the building (more serious than kicking the door in).

                  Would the Housing Ombudsman be of any use or is this just as toothless as most organisations of this type?

                  Comment


                    #10
                    The RMC should contact the Housing Association and list all the terms of the lease which it is in breach and give it say 21 days to put them right,



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                      #11
                      eagle2 Thanks for your input. We have done that and listed all the breaches of the lease. Their official written response was that they have issued a warning to the tenants but don't intend to evict them. The HA is very concerned about their tenants' antisocial behaviour and are doing their best to rectify it (yadda yadda yadda).

                      Unofficially in conversation they have told us that the incidents that have happened so far aren't serious enough to justify forfeiture of their lease and so they aren't worried about that. They have their own legal team, incidentally, as they are one of the large HAs.

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                        #12
                        Maybe the leaseholders who are most concerned should club together to buy a decent spy, or CCTV, camera to gain evidence for the police. A big notice should be put up in the entrance hall so everyone is aware of it.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I suggest that the RMC continues to correspond with the HA and points out ongoing breaches of the lease, It should have a claim for damages.

                          It is extremely unlikely that you will obtain forfeiture and it is not usually worth following that route because you would not be able to collect service charges etc whilst the claim proceeds.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            You should ask that the freeholder makes an application under Section 168(4) Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 for a determination of a breach. This would be dealt with by the FTT and if they fail they have very limited powers to award costs and would only do so if your actions were frivolous or vexatious

                            The housing association would have to engage in the process and may make them realize the problems their sub-tenants are creating for you

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thanks sgclacy. The freeholder seems to be on board and has written to the HA but it seems the HA is unconcerned.
                              I will suggest your recommended course of action.

                              Gordon999 We are thinking of contacting our MP as a last resort. Unfortunately she is not a member of the ruling party. (Was yours?)

                              Comment

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