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To: National Assembly of Wales

Scrap the Anti-Social Behaviour Section of the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill

Scrap the Anti-Social Behaviour Section of the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill

Part 3, Chapter 7 of the proposed Renting Homes (Wales) Bill needs to be abolished to protect the civil liberties of all those residents who cannot afford to own / buy a home.

Why is this important?

See http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=12055 for the proposed bill and further information.

The bill would strictly regulate tenancy agreements and all accommodation contracts in Wales. It lists many clauses which will have to be included in "all contracts", in many cases, including the one this petition is about "without amendment".

Item 55 of the document lays out a clause that states tenants "must not engage or threaten to engage in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance" to fellow tenants, landlords, neighbours, or anyone passing through the area.

Clearly, this is an attempt to crack down on nuisance neighbours. By putting people in breach of contract for antisocial behaviour, they could be evicted and made homeless.

The problem is that "nuisance or annoyance" (or even just the "threat" of being a nuisance or annoying) are vague terms and open to abuse. The law could be used to evict people who have not done anything wrong.

Examples:
1) Two houses in a street put up political flags - one for the LibDems, one for UKIP. Residents complain that these are a nuisance. The people from one house have to choose between eviction or not displaying their paraphernalia - the other house is owned by its resident and is untouchable.

2) A houseshare is going wrong: two of the residents are not doing their dishes quickly enough, while the other two are "too fussy". Both groups complain to the landlord that their housemates are being a nuisance and demand their eviction. The landlord has to get involved in every little argument within the house.

3) A Muslim family rents a house. Soon, one particular neighbour, who is known for his involvement in the Welsh Defence League, starts complaining repeatedly to the landlord and the council that the family is being annoying. He complains about hearing prayers, about their social gatherings for iftar during ramadan, about the children leaving toys outside, about "disgusting smells". Eventually, he threatens to sue the landlord unless they are evicted. The landlord relents and kicks them out.

4) A cat walks into your kitchen. It's affectionate and, when you make a cup of tea, it gets very excited about the milk, so you share some. The owner, living across the street, spots this and shouts at you because cats are lactose intolerant. The next day your landlord phones: your neighbour told him you were a nuisance, so he is evicting you.

5) A group of international students live in a house. The walls in the kitchen get mouldy. They ask the landlord to fix it, repeatedly, but the landlord keeps promising to do so and never shows up. Eventually, he tells them they are being evicted due to having been a nuisance to neighbours, even though they have not been a problem.

"Nuisance" and "annoyance" are so open, so universal, that every one of us has at one time or another been annoying to someone else. This law would make anyone who does not own their home vulnerable to malicious accusations and persecution: it discriminates against the young, the poor, and anyone who is not well-off. It adds uncertainty and vulnerability to tenants' lives, and could create artificial homelessness.

This clause must not be introduced in the final legislation. Please sign and share if you agree.

Wales

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Updates

2015-03-16 12:35:16 +0000

10 signatures reached