Calls for tougher actions against anti-social behaviour as figures reveal thousands of complaints

Local authorities are practically powerless to deal with problem tenants causing antisocial behaviour.

Just a fraction of cases are being dealt, and it emerged last night that action was not taken after more than 4,600 complaints were lodged last year against council tenants in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford.

Renewed calls have been made for the Government to speed up the enactment of new measures to tackle antisocial behaviour.

One observer warned the “lack of action reflects the lack of powers” local authorities have.

Figures provided to the Irish Examiner from the four local authorities in Dublin, as well as Cork City Council, Limerick City, Galway, and Waterford city councils, showed a total of 4,622 complaints involving antisocial behaviour last year.

Despite the huge number of complaints, just 70 actions were carried out, including the surrendering of properties and evictions of tenants, across all eight local authority areas last year.

The Department of the Environment said local authorities had “substantial powers” to deal with cases under existing laws, such as the Housing Acts 1966 to 2014 and under Part 2 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014, which was enacted in July.

However, the department said “the necessary statutory instruments will be made in the coming months to bring Part 2 of the 2014 Act into operation” — and some council staff have called for the measures to be introduced as quickly as possible.

One source said: “We are anxious for [the instruments] to be brought in so we can act on them.. It would be the improvements we need.”

The author of a report, written for the department back in 2003 on ‘Preventing and Combating AntiSocial Behaviour’, said new measures would help councils to tackle problem tenants.

Michelle Norris, from the School of Applied Social Science in University College Dublin, said: “Local authorities’ lack of powers is a problem.

“My attitude would be that having one problem family can really destabilise neighbourhoods. I would be concerned about that.

“The lack of action reflects the lack of powers that they have.”

The figures show a minimum of 4,622 complaints about antisocial behaviour were received by the eight largest local authorities last year, but just a handful of council properties were returned or abandoned by the alleged perpetrators.

Dublin City Council had the largest number of complaints at 1,465, up slightly compared to the 2012 figure. South Dublin County Council received 1,376 complaints regarding antisocial behaviour, also a slight increase on 2012.

Waterford City Council received 180 complaints relating to 73 properties last year, while the number of complaints received in Cork City, Galway City, Fingal, and Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown all decreased slightly. Limerick City Council posted the largest increase, up 10% to 440.

The way allegations of antisocial behaviour are collated appears to vary. For example, while Galway City Council said it had received 185 complaints of anti-social behaviour last year, Cork City said it received just 19 — one fewer than in 2012.

Likewise, while some local authorities do not facilitate housing transfer for complainants in cases of antisocial behaviour, others do, albeit a small number. In Dublin City Council, seven people who said they were adversely affected applied for transfer, which was granted in two cases.

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