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Anti-Social Behaviour and the Demotion of Tenancies

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 19 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Demotion Tenancy Demoted Landlord

The demotion of tenancies is a system that allows local authority and other social landlords to address anti-social behaviour by their tenants. If a demotion order is made in respect of a tenancy the tenant will lose many of their rights as a secured tenant. It will also be far easier for the landlord to evict them. A court order is required before a tenancy can be demoted.

When Can a Landlord Apply for the Demotion of a Tenancy?

A local authority or other social landlord can apply for the demotion of a tenancy if at least one of three conditions is satisfied. These are that the tenant or someone who lives with or visits the tenant has:
  • Behaved antisocially or in a way which causes a nuisance to other tenants;
  • Threatened to behave in a way which is anti-social or causes a nuisance; or,
  • Used the property for an illegal activity.
Before the landlord can apply to the court for a demotion order they must warn the tenant of their intentions by serving a written notice on them. This notice should give at least four weeks’ warning of the intended legal proceedings and explain why the landlord plans to apply for a demotion order.

The court hearing will usually take place between four and eight weeks from the date on which the landlord started the case for a demotion order. The tenant should receive the court papers at least 21 days before the hearing date. However, in some cases where the allegations against the tenant are very serious, a court may decide that the tenant can be given fewer days’ notice than this.

The landlord will have to provide evidence to convince the court that the tenant has behaved in the way that has been alleged. The tenant may respond by providing evidence to defend themselves against the landlord’s allegations. A court will only grant a demotion order if it is satisfied that at least one of the three conditions above is satisfied and that it is reasonable to grant a demotion order.

The Effect of a Demotion Order

During a demoted tenancy many of the rights that a secured tenant of a local authority landlord would usually have will be suspended or limited. The rights which will generally be lost include the right to buy the property, the right to sublet it or take in lodgers and the right to pass the tenancy on to someone else.

If the court makes a demotion order the landlord should provide the tenant with a tenancy agreement setting out the terms of their new, demoted tenancy. The demotion order itself may also set out some of the terms of the new tenancy agreement. Any rent arrears, or overpaid rent, under the previous tenancy will be transferred to the account for the demoted tenancy.

Demoted tenancies usually last for an initial period of 12 months but a landlord could apply to extend the demoted tenancy beyond this period. If no application is made to extend the demoted tenancy or to evict the tenant during the 12-month period the tenancy will usually automatically revert to a secured tenancy after one year.

Demotion Orders and Repossession

It is much easier for a landlord to evict a tenant who has a demoted tenancy than one who has a full secured tenancy. The rules for evicting a tenant who has a demoted tenancy are similar to those for tenants with introductory tenancies.

If the landlord wishes to evict a tenant who has a demoted tenancy they should give four weeks’ written notice that they intend to start a repossession case. This notice should give the reasons why the landlord wishes to repossess the property. The tenant will have 14 days in which to request a review of the decision to evict them. The review will be carried out internally by the local authority. If the tenant does not apply for a review, or a review is unsuccessful, the landlord may then start a repossession case.

The landlord will not have to prove any legal grounds to repossess the property. If the landlord has followed the correct legal procedure the court has very little power to do anything but grant a possession order.

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