Legal order will protect tenant

A housing association tenant has been protected from losing her home thanks to a legal order obtained by Folkestone & Hythe District Council.

COURT AND JUDGE MAIN AND THUMBNAIL IMAGE

Staff from the Community Safety Unit received complaints from neighbours of anti-social behaviour associated with the property.

Following investigation, it was believed the 38-year-old woman was in fact the victim of 'cuckooing' - where other people take over a property without the tenant's consent.

In order to protect the tenant from being evicted, the Council applied for a partial closure order, meaning anyone who goes in to the property or stays there without 'reasonable cause' can be arrested.

The application at Folkestone Magistrates Court on Monday 1 October was successful and the tenant, who was there to receive the order, expressed her gratitude for the Council's intervention and support.

It is the first time the Council has taken this action, permitted under the Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Disorder Act 2014, and staff from the Community Safety Unit were able to attend court as witnesses.

Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee, Cabinet Member for Communities, said it provided an effective way to deal with the issues at the property in east Folkestone.

The district judge remarked that, given the evidence, the tenant would almost certainly have been evicted, but that could have resulted in her being on the streets.
By applying for a partial closure order we are able to give her the opportunity to change her behaviour and seek the support she needs, and the judge felt it was a reasonable and proportionate approach.
Importantly, it should provide some reassurance to residents who were experiencing the issues around the property, including drug-taking, noise, threatening behaviour, and criminal damage. Cllr Jenny Hollingsbee, Cabinet Member for Communities

The complaints about the property dated back to 2016 and had been investigated by Orbit Housing, Kent Police and Social Services.

The order will be in place for three months after which an extension can be sought from the court and the court would need to be satisfied that the extension was reasonable, proportionate and desirable. Anyone found guilty of breaching the order can be fined or face up to 51 weeks in prison.

Published on 8 October 2018