Lawyer in 'tenants from Hell' council job rouses interest

Chris Fogarty reports

Oldham Borough Council's appointment of a solicitor to tackle obnoxious council tenants is attracting interest from other local authorities.

In a legal first for a council, solicitor Naseem Malik is dealing solely with nuisance neighbours and anti-social behaviour.

Malik is working on a number of legal initiatives including a tough "plain English" tenancy agreement that will be introduced when the Housing Act comes into force in January 1997. She is also compiling a manual to assist housing officers in dealing with anti-social behaviour.

She said the introduction of the new Housing Act and the high profile anti-social behaviour had meant that other councils might also need to appoint a solicitor specifically to take on errant tenants.

Under the new act, tenants will face a 12-month probationary period, and any anti-social or disruptive behaviour will result in the tenancy being terminated.

One of Malik's roles will be to ensure misbehaving tenants are evicted swiftly.

"Local councils are going to be given new rights that they didn't have in the past, " she said.

"The public expectation is that they want nuisance tenants dealt with as quickly as possible," she added.