Clause 10 - Compensation

Part of Anti-social Behaviour Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 6 May 2003.

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Photo of Mr Matthew Green Mr Matthew Green Liberal Democrat, Ludlow 6:30, 6 May 2003

I am glad that we have had the stand part debate, because while the hon. Gentleman was speaking, a further concern occurred to me. Subsection (4)(b) states that the court may order the payment of compensation

''if the person is the owner or occupier of the premises, that he took reasonable steps to prevent the use.''

What is a reasonable step? A reasonable step taken by a social landlord or someone who owns 50 or 100 properties might be entirely different from a reasonable step taken by a person who owns one property, decides that they want to travel around the world for six months, finds a tenant and signs a tenancy agreement, goes off round the world, and comes back to find that that tenant was running a crack house. The argument could be made that because that person went off round the world, they did not take any reasonable steps to prevent that happening. The definition of reasonable steps differs depending on who the person is.

I would like reassurance from the Minister that the Government will issue clarification—I see that he is nodding, so that is welcome. We need clarification of what constitutes the reasonable steps that a landlord—including one person renting out their house as well as a professional landlord—should take. It is difficult to know what steps one could take when renting out one's house to prevent someone selling drugs from it.