Council tenants forced out by threats

Hundreds of tenants in local authorities are being forced from their homes by the rising levels of anti-social behaviour by their neighbours.

In four local authorities, alone, there have been 200 applications for transfer due to the behaviour of others living in close proximity in the last 18 months.

New data provided by some of the largest urban local authorities in the country show at least 1,475 new cases of alleged anti-social behaviour by council tenants were opened in the past 18 months, with the number of interviews conducted by council officials far exceeding that figure.

There is also a growing number of people asking local authorities to be moved as a result of alleged anti-social behaviour by neighbours, including in some cases on the basis of “a serious threat to life”.

The data provided by local authorities in Cork City, Galway City, Dublin City, Limerick City, South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown show that many local authorities are reporting a rise in the number of contacts made about alleged anti-social behaviour by tenants, although few cases end up in court.

For example, 194 new cases have been opened in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown in the past 18 months, yet in the same period, just two cases linked to exclusion orders have come before the courts. No evictions were carried out last year, with five properties surrendered in lieu of legal action.

Cork City Council also said incidents of anti-social behaviour had increased, with 13 new cases opened in the first six months of this year, including six in February alone. Five verbal warnings and two “notices to quit” have been issued.

In the past 18 months, 227 interviews have been conducted by council officials related to anti-social behaviour. While three cases were processed through the district court last year, just one court order has been secured so far in 2012.

Limerick City also said its number of anti-social behaviour cases had increased, with 10 court orders secured last year and four so far in 2012, with 405 cases successfully closed in the past 18 months. In South Dublin, five cases have made it to court, but there have been almost 3,000 house calls and more than 50 house inspections.

Some officials have said bringing an anti-social behaviour case to court is viewed as a last resort.

Even though the costs can be moderate, it can prove difficult to secure a ruling. For example, Galway City Council said it had obtained an order for possession against a tenant allegedly dealing drugs, and an exclusion order against her partner, but the order was overturned “on a technicality”, only to be upheld on appeal and the tenant evicted.

There has also been a surge in the number of tenants who have asked councils to transfer them to another property on the basis of the alleged anti-social behaviour of neighbours.

In South Dublin, 84 people have requested a transfer in the past 18 months, including 29 this year, due to alleged anti-social behaviour by neighbours, while in Galway City, the figure was 90 for last year. In Cork City, 20 people have applied for a transfer.

A spokesperson for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown said it was not council policy to move people due to anti-social behaviour but added: “Only requests where there is a serious threat to life or a threat of serious damage to property are considered and such applications must be supported by An Garda Siochána.”

The council received six such requests from tenants last year, but after examination only three were approved for transfer. One request received this year is currently being examined.

Waterford City and Fingal councils were unable to provide figures on anti-social behaviour.


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