Working together to create safer communities for all
Midland Heart works in partnership with customers and other residents, local police and councils to try to resolve anti-social behaviour that causes misery for neighbours and the wider community.
Our message is strong and clear; we take criminal or anti-social behaviour extremely seriously and, where necessary, legal action.
Vicki Brownhill, Head of Housing Management, said: “We have a strong commitment to working with residents to tackle anti-social behaviour at the earliest possible stage so that all our customers can live in good neighbourhoods where they feel safe and valued.
“Unfortunately, not all customers will engage with us or moderate their behaviour, leaving us no option but to pursue legal action to protect our properties and residents from harm.”
Between January 2018 and January 2019 we had almost 40 claims relating to nuisance and antisocial behaviour issued at court.
This included joint action by Midland Heart, the City of Wolverhampton Council and West Midlands Police to evict two tenants from their homes in Chester Street, Whitmore Reans in 2018. Both families had lived on the street for more than 20 years, during which their sons were involved with a local gang and the possession and supply of class A drugs, openly sold in the locality of the two properties.
Although neither tenant had been involved in their sons’ criminal behaviour, they had allowed them to continue living at the properties, contributing to the locality becoming a magnet for anti-social behaviour and crime and an environment of fear, intimidation and nuisance for other residents.
Last week, together with West Midlands Police, we successfully applied for a three-month closure notice under the Anti-Social Crime and Policing Act, 2014 on a flat in Finch Road, Lozells whose occupants were involved in burglaries at a number of nearby business premises and drug offences.
Six weeks earlier, we were granted a similar notice on a house in Douglas Road, Handsworth associated with criminal activity and anti-social behaviour that had resulted in 10 police attendances over 12 months and several arrests for drug and other offences.
Obtaining closure notices enables us to seek possession of our property.
The court process can take an inordinate length of time, however, and the perception in the media and in affected communities may be that little or nothing is being done to tackle behaviour that has serious impact on the wellbeing and safety of other residents.
We recently submitted a call to Government for specialist housing courts to be established. The aim of the courts, which would have expertise in housing, would be to cut out unnecessary and inefficient administration and delays to decision making which adds to the misery of affected neighbourhoods and the frustration of housing associations.
Robert Hunter, Public Affairs Policy Manager, explained: “The need for more decisive action was a key theme of our discussions with residents last autumn about the Social Housing Green Paper.
“We are calling for the Government to pilot a specialist housing court as part of the new deal for social housing. This would help us take more decisive action against tenants who cause harm to their neighbourhoods and provide swifter results for landlords seeking possession. It would also make it easier for tenants seeking redress for the poor condition of their home.
“The existing legal avenues are very drawn out with possession claims taking up to 18 months to conclude. The impact on neighbours who have to continue to tolerate extremely disruptive behaviour is huge.
“It’s important we are able to give communities more confidence that just and proportionate action will be taken in a timely manner when peace and order breaks down.”