Evicted tenants 'continue to harass' by moving into nearby private property

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The Independent Online

Nuisance neighbours who are evicted by local authorities are simply moving to privately rented homes in the same area and continuing to harass local residents, researchers report today.

Nuisance neighbours who are evicted by local authorities are simply moving to privately rented homes in the same area and continuing to harass local residents, researchers report today.

The first national study of the way councils and housing associations deal with so-called "neighbours from hell" has found that problem families are often displaced to a nearby area.

The research team, from Sheffield Hallam University, was told by one housing officer: "There are two notable cases I can think of where we've got a possession order, they've been evicted and they've moved to an adjacent street." The findings of the study, which was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, will concern the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, who last week implored local authorities to take greater action against anti-social behaviour in their communities.

Three out of four of the local authorities and housing associations interviewed for today's report admitted anti-social behaviour was becoming an increasing problem in their area.

Many of the problems related to unruly children, with verbal abuse and harassment also cited as causes of disputes. The Sheffield team found that 90 per cent of the nuisance neighbours were people in receipt of state benefits and two-thirds had special needs, such as mental health problems. The report concluded: "The underlying causes of anti-social behaviour were not tackled."

Caroline Hunter, a coauthor, said: "It was not uncommon for landlords who thought they had dealt with a problem to find the tenants they evicted moving back into privately rented accommodation in the same neighbourhood. This was distressing and demoralising for the local community - and all the more so because the council or housing association no longer had any control over action to deal with further nuisance."

The report called for all local authorities to have specialist "nuisance teams".

One of the most successful local authorities to have addressed the issue is Manchester, which has secured 600 injunctions and 100 evictions since establishing a specialist team to deal with anti-social behaviour in 1995.

A spokeswoman for Manchester City Council said it worked with other social landlords in the region to ensure that evicted tenants were not able to set up home in the same neighbourhood and continue to harass local people.

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