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Anti-social behaviour remedy

Anti-social behaviour remedy

Michael Duffy

Tenants evicted for anti-social behaviour will not have to be re-housed by Mayo County Council, under tough new measures adopted this week.
The measure is part of a new policy adopted by Mayo County Council to tackle the problem of anti-social behaviour. The Council’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee has been working on the policy for over a year and plan to implement it from January 2007.
The problem of anti-social behaviour in housing estates across the county has been highlighted many times in recent months and came to a head last month when a women told a court of being terrorised because of the problem.
The new 16-page document details the whole procedure, from the reporting of incidents right through to enforcement, which will be a matter for the courts. Complaints will be accepted either in writing or verbally, but anonymous complaints will not be considered or processed.
However, the elected representatives will have an important role to play as confidential complaints can be channelled through them or through representatives of tenant associations.
The policy also clearly states that all four Mayo local authorities will vigourously pursue enforcement procedures where acts of anti-social behaviour are proven and a breach of tenancy agreement has occurred.
The authorities can initiate court proceedings to repossess a house where tenants engage in anti-social behaviour. Tenants who are evicted will be regarded as having deliberately rendered themselves homeless and will not be re-housed by the local authorities.
The Council’s Director of Services Mr Peter Hynes said that the message should go out that there were only ten serious cases of anti-social behaviour reported from the 2,000 families housed by the Council, which was only a half of one percent.
He said the problem was not a major one but he added that these cases can have a negative effect on the lives of many people and the council needed to be able to deal with the problems in a consistent manner.
Cllr John Cribbin, who chaired the Housing SPC, said the Council now had the power, so they must in turn have the conviction to implement the policy.  Cllr Johnny Mee said the Council had to be seen to be pro-active on this issue as many residents in housing estates felt the trouble-makers were ‘above the law’.
Cllr Michelle Mulherin stated it was ‘high time’ that the council tackled this issue. She said specific tactics were needed and the council needed to be more sophisticated in how they handled the problem.
Mr Hynes said the Council would be doing everything in its power to support families living in council property and these new procedures would ultimately have to be able to stand up in court.
There are 16 different descriptions of anti-social behaviour: drinking in public, drug dealing, drug taking in public place/selling alcohol, noise pollution, indiscriminate burning, litter pollution/illegal dumping, physical assault, theft of property, threatening behaviour, trespassing, dog/horse or other related animal nuisance, harassment, intimidation, causing injury, coercion, causing damage or other nuisance.