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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Government announces new anti-social behaviour action plan

Government announces new anti-social behaviour action plan


Law Commission to review the current leasing laws as part of the plan

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) announced its new anti-social behaviour action plan on 27 March, to combat anti-social behaviour and revitalise high streets, which includes helping local communities, councils and businesses take control of empty shops, providing local businesses with greater opportunities to thrive on the high street.

To complement the new action plan, the Law Commission has also announced a review of the current leasing laws used by businesses who lease shops, offices and other businesses. More specifically the review, which has been commissioned by the DLUHC, will examine the relevant parts of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954, with the aim of removing barriers to accessing property and helping small businesses to occupy properties quicker.

Other measures included in the government’s action plan include: cracking down on those that exploit vulnerable people by taking control of their property for criminal activity, or ‘cuckooing’, by consulting on making it a criminal offence; unlimited fines for irresponsible landlords and building owners who allow their properties to fall into disrepair and for anti-social behaviour to thrive; and giving councils more powers to move in quickly when houses are left vacant - cutting the timeframe from when they can act from two years of a building being empty to six months.

Commenting on the new action plan, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove said: “Too many high streets which were once the beating hearts of our communities have fallen into disrepair and are now blighted by boarded-up shops, broken windows and anti-social behaviour. We are putting this right through our Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan which will give communities the power to breathe new life into their high street, ensuring that empty shops can be rented out to local people and community groups. This is all part of the government’s mission to level up across the country and restore pride in our communities.”

Commenting on the Law Commission’s review, Professor Nicholas Hopkins, the Law Commissioner for Property, Family and Trust Law, said: “The right to a new lease has been available to many business tenants for over half a century. Whether they operate in shops, cafes, or factories, many businesses have been afforded the security of being able to continue in the same premises after their lease runs out. But it’s clear that the law is in need of modernisation. Parts of the current legislation are overly complex and bureaucratic, which is holding back businesses and the high streets and town centres they operate in. Our wide-ranging review of this aspect of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 is a fresh opportunity to ensure that the law is simple and works for landlords, businesses and communities.”