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Are landlords liable for their anti-social tenants?

As a rule, landlords are not responbile for the anti-social behaviour of their tenants. Section 1 of this paper outlines some legal cases that have tested this proposition.

Social landlords’ policies and procedures

All social landlords should have a published policy on anti-social behaviour which sets out how they will react and tackle reported instances of anti-social behaviour. The starting point for a tenant of a social landlord who is suffering from anti-social behaviour is, therefore, to obtain a copy of the landlord’s policy on anti-social behaviour. If a landlord is failing to implement their policy this may form the basis of a complaint. More detail is provided in section 2 of the paper.


Social landlords have a number of powers at their disposal to tackle anti-social tenants. The ultimate sanction is the eviction of the tenant but most landlords will seek to remedy the situation before it reaches that stage.

A number of new powers were introduced by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The Home Office published guidance on the new powers: Statutory guidance for frontline professionals which was revised in August 2019 “in the light of experience since the new powers were introduced”.

The type of remedies that social landlords can employ include: dispute resolution; injunctions; introductory and demoted tenancies; and eviction.  More detail is provided in section 3 of the paper.

Policy in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Welsh Ministers have the power to commence certain specified provisions of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 in relation to Wales and this power has been exercised. Independent research on the subject of how Welsh social landlords tackle ASB was published in February 2014. There is also a Wales Housing Management Standard for Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour which is a voluntary standard aimed at local authority housing departments and Registered Social Landlords (housing associations) in Wales.

Scottish landlords operate under a different legislative regime. In 2014 the Chartered Institute of Housing in Scotland published a practice briefing on tackling ASB in Scotland which provides an overview of available remedies.

Social landlords in Northern Ireland also operate under a different legislative regime. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s website explains how the NIHE approaches ASB.

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