Our Dispute Resolution department has recently assisted an East Anglian based local authority to obtain an injunction under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 within 48 hours of instruction, which had the effect of immediately barring the Defendant from the council flat which he rented.
The background to the case concerned ongoing possession proceedings against the Defendant, who was the tenant of a flat in a council-owned sheltered housing scheme. Possession proceedings had been issued in December 2017, based on long-running allegations of anti-social behaviour by the tenant towards other residents within the scheme. Unfortunately, due to a lack of court availability, proceedings had been adjourned for a period of four months between the initial hearing and the second hearing, during which time the Defendant’s behaviour had worsened significantly.
In the past, the Defendant had:
- been served with an Abatement Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, in relation to allegations of noise nuisance;
- breached the Abatement Notice on two occasions and had been prosecuted and convicted in relation to one of those breaches;
- been convicted of threatening behaviour towards the resident of a flat immediately below him;
- been served with a Notice of Seeking Possession before the possession proceedings were issued against him; and
- been served with a Police Information Notice pursuant to the Protection from Harassment Act.
None of the above actions had served to moderate the Defendant’s behaviour.
As the second hearing of the case neared (the Defendant having admitted, in writing, most of the allegations against him), the Defendant’s behaviour worsened and culminated in a threat to kill the resident of the flat below him. The threat was taken sufficiently seriously that the individual was provided with a temporary room in another sheltered housing scheme in which to sleep.
Although the threat to kill happened only two weeks before the second hearing of the possession claim was due to take place, the local authority considered it sufficiently serious to merit an immediate application for an injunction to remove the Defendant from the property. The authority was, in particular, concerned that even if it obtained a possession order against the Defendant at the subsequent hearing, the period of time which he would be allowed by the Court before having to leave the flat would result in matters dragging over into the World Cup period which, based on the Defendant’s previous behaviour, was very likely to make the Defendant’s actions even worse.
Having received instructions to proceed with an emergency ex parte injunction application, the necessary supporting witness statement and application documents were drafted and placed before the Court within two working days. The Court was able to hear the matter within one hour of the papers being issued and the application was granted, on the basis that the necessary tests in the 2014 Act were made out. In particular, the Court concluded that it had a power to exclude the Defendant from his home, pursuant to Section 13 of the 2014 Act, because the anti-social behaviour in which the Defendant had engaged included the use or threatened use of violence against another tenant and there was a significant risk of harm to other tenants (many of whom were very vulnerable due to age and infirmity) from his behaviour.
Subsequently, at the second hearing of the possession claim, the Court made an outright possession order and extended the injunction, in order to protect those residents who had given evidence against the Defendant.
The case shows that, where circumstances demand it, the powers of a County Court to injunct troublesome tenants are very extensive and can be exercised very quickly, with the proper advice and support.
Please feel free to contact us if you require assistance with housing related injunction applications.