Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (2963)

Robert Troy


2963. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to ensure persons adhere to the responsibility not to engage in antisocial behaviour while recognising and supporting that each person has the right to a home; and the action taken to ensure approved housing bodies are adequately sourced to deal with antisocial behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34176/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

Anti-social behaviour, in general, is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

In relation to anti-social behavior in social housing dwellings, local authorities are responsible, under the Housing Acts 1966-2015, for the management and maintenance of their housing stock and the management of their estates, including taking appropriate measures to counter anti-social behaviour by their tenants. The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 strengthened the powers of housing authorities in relation to securing excluding orders where individuals are engaging in anti-social behaviour in local authority dwellings. Part 2 of that Act put in place a new procedure for securing possession of local authority housing where there are serious breaches of the tenancy agreement. This procedure involves a hearing in the District Court on the merits of the application in disputed cases.

Under the statutory provisions as amended in 2014, the allocation of local authority, Approved Housing Body and Rental Accommodation availability agreement dwellings may be refused or deferred where the authority considers that any member of the household is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour or that an allocation to that household would not be in the interest of good estate management.

In relation to the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) scheme, the 2014 Act provides that local authorities may refuse to provide, or cease providing, housing assistance in respect of a qualified household where the local authority considers that any household member is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour. Similarly, the local authority may also refuse to permit a person who proposes to take up or resume residence in a dwelling the subject of housing assistance to enter or be in the dwelling where the local authority considers that the person is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour. As they are private rental tenancies, the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Acts also apply to tenancies in the RAS and HAP schemes.

The Residential Tenancies Acts 2004-2019 set out the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords in the private rented and the Approved Housing Body sectors. Under section 16(h) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, a tenant shall not engage, nor allow their visitors to engage, in anti-social behaviour. Section 17 of the Act defines anti-social behaviour to include behaviour that: constitutes the commission of an offence reasonably likely to affect directly the well-being or welfare of others; could cause fear, danger, injury, damage or loss to certain persons; or persistently prevents or interferes with the peaceful occupation of others in the property or neighbourhood.

Under section 15 of the Act, a landlord owes to each person who could be potentially affected a duty to enforce the tenant’s obligations and section 77 provides that third parties who are directly and adversely affected by tenants engaging in anti-social behaviour may, subject to certain conditions, refer a complaint to the RTB for resolution, where a landlord has failed to enforce their tenant’s obligations. Further information can be obtained on the RTB’s website at www.rtb.ie.

An interim Regulation Committee for the AHB sector was established in 2014 under the auspices of the Housing Agency, which, supported by a Regulation Office based within the Agency, oversees implementation of a voluntary regulation code (VRC) for AHBs.

A Performance Standard was published by the Regulation Office in December 2018, defining and setting the standard for essential service performance by AHBs. Under this Standard, an AHB is expected to have a published policy and procedure for dealing with complaints from tenants and service users. The AHB should seek early resolution to any matter raised and also advise tenants of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) Dispute Resolution service and their rights. An AHB is required to register all of its tenancies with the RTB.

In addition, an AHB is expected to have published an estate management policy which refers to anti-social behaviour, and sets out the rules designed to create communities that are safe and secure.