Reports of antisocial behaviour decline

The state body charged with resolving disputes involving private tenancies has said the rate of complaints linked to antisocial behaviour has fallen.

However, residents in an estate in Dublin are warning they may “go public” over their concerns.

The Private Residential Tenancies Board had 57 third-party applications last year linked to antisocial behaviour — down from 75 the previous year.

The decline in complaints linked to antisocial activity comes despite a court ruling in December in which the residents of a Cork suburb secured a ruling against a landlord for failing in his duty to control the tenants of two of his properties.

Landlord Flor Harrington was ordered by the PRTB to pay €30,000 to 13 residents of Bishopscourt, Cork.

This month, a website for residents of a private estate in Clondalkin, Dublin, issued a post in which it said they were considering going public about their longstanding concerns.

It states: “The biggest problem associated with the prolonged continuation of antisocial activities, especially in private housing estates such as St John’s Park, is brought about by widespread denial within the immediate community where antisocial activities take hold, simply because most people do not want to get involved because they themselves may become a target for their neighbours and their siblings on the road.”

A post from the website editor says: “Those who promoted and co-ordinated antisocial activities against innocent residents over very many years must not be allowed to directly or in-directly, financially or otherwise, benefit from the heartache and pain felt by their victims.”

PRTB assistant director Annmarie Quinn said the 57 complaints linked to antisocial behaviour last year represented just 3% of overall applications to the board.

She said: “72% of cases taken under this category to the board since 2010 were upheld, and 28 were not upheld. The damages in relation to Bishopscourt were €30,000. While this was substantial, it was not the highest individual sanction in respect of antisocial behaviour as it must be remembered that in this instance, it involved 13 applicants and two tenancies.

“The individual damages imposed on landlords have ranged between €1,000 and €5,000 in relation to not complying with their obligations to ensure their tenants behaviour is not adversely affecting neighbours.”

The court case was hailed as a “landmark” result by the Cork University Residents’ Forum, which was formed as a way of providing a voice for residents who own properties near the campus of University College Cork.

Its spokesman, Barry Keane, said he was aware of a similar initiative being attempted regarding residents living close to Dublin Institute of Technology.

He said the Cork body had been in contact with the office of Jan O’Sullivan, the housing minister, to convince her of the need for similar forums.

“We have asked for city forums to be brought in for all campuses,” he said.

While local authorities can more easily collate data on antisocial behaviour linked to its housing stock, the picture among private estates in harder to quantify.

Jim Beecher of Cork City Council’s housing section said, in cases of problem behaviour among tenants of social housing, the local authority was in a position to step in — while local residents in private housing did not have that option.

According to the PRTB, a tenant who finds themselves labelled as having behaved in an antisocial manner is given notice of a hearing and is entitled to receive any documentation in support of the application to attend a hearing.

Any damages awarded are against the landlord, who can subsequently take their own proceedings against the tenant through the PRTB.

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