Are you facing challenges as a social housing charitable trust?

22nd October 2021

When charity doesn’t begin at home

As a social housing charitable trust, it can be difficult when faced with problematic tenants the same way a private landlord can be. But what happens when occupants have long-term guests? Are you clear on the rules and what can be done to resolve issues that arise?

It is crucial you seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity to protect your property, reputation and the rights of other occupiers.

We work closely with clients to help them understand what can be done, offering legal guidance every step of the way, as highlighted in the case below.

The background

Our litigation team recently acted for one of the firm’s social housing clients; a charitable trust that provides almshouses for people aged over 60.  Occupants of the almshouses are not tenants but beneficiaries of an appointment by the trust and their occupation is subject to the trust’s rules which include a prohibition on sharing accommodation or having long-term guests without permission of the trustees.

One of the residents has, probably unwillingly, been the host for her son, a man with a criminal record for offences of violence and racist abuse.  He has been visiting his mother and staying at her almshouse.  Whilst there, he has been abusive to the trust’s site manager, to other residents, his mother’s carers and racially abusive about the grand-daughter of another resident, as well as drinking heavily and being drunk in the public areas of the site.

What happened next?

Earlier in the summer, Schofield Sweeney wrote to him telling him to leave the site which he did but he returned recently.  After a further letter from Schofield Sweeney, he left but returned within days.  Left with no other option, the trust instructed Schofield Sweeney to seek an injunction under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014.

S1 of the Act allows the Court to grant an injunction if it is satisfied that the respondent to the application has engaged in anti-social behaviour and if the Court also considers it just to grant the injunction to prevent anti-social behaviour. S2 of the Act defines anti-social behaviour; not surprisingly, the judge hearing the application felt that the evidence of the respondent’s activities made out all of the elements set out in S2.

An injunction effectively banning the respondent from the site was granted by the Court together with a substantial order for costs.

Lessons to learn

The case illustrates that occupiers must seek permission from the trustees for having having long-term guests – even if they are family.

The good news is that a resolution can be found when issues surface – with the right advice, at the right time.

If you’re facing issues as a landlord or a social housing organisation, we’re here to help you – get in touch.

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