Hosts to be punishable for partygoers’ actions
Councils across England and Wales are on the verge of getting powers that will enable them to punish the host of a party for their guests’ actions once they have left the premises.
The legislation would allow local authorities, such as those in Fallowfield and Withington, to hold tenants having a house party responsible for the conduct of partygoers on their way home and give the council ultimate power to kick tenants out of their house for excessive anti-social behaviour.
But local officials stressed the powers are not intended for persecuting students, rather to keep the peace.
“We are committed to supporting the peaceful, law abiding majority and achieving a transformation in neighbourhoods affected by anti-social behaviour,” said Councillor for Withington Chris Paul. “What we need is these real powers now.
“Power to tackle irresponsible landlords and householders. And power to firmly control disrespectful householders, tenants, and their visitors where their bad behaviour is now stopping others enjoying their homes in peace.”
The developments come after Manchester City Council called on the government to include stronger legislation in the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill in September.
The bill is currently being considered in the House of Lords, having successfully passed through the House of Commons, and is set for a line-by-line reading on November 12, just three steps from becoming an official Act of Parliament.
Students told The Mancunion they felt the proposed powers were unfair.
“I don’t see why they should have the right to do that because how can we control someone else’s actions,” said third-year Joe Brunner. “It’s like they are trying to cap parties. What is next, curfews, a limit on how much we can spend?”
Third-year History student Romy St. John agreed, “It seems quite unfair on the tenants, I don’t see how you can hold someone responsible for someone else’s actions.”
Chloe Norton, a second-year studying Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology said she could accept the idea if partygoers affected neighbours, “I could maybe understand if they were in your house, or if they trespassed on your neighbours, but it seems unfair if they are not on your property.
“Tenants shouldn’t be responsible for how someone else acts.”
Many student-landlord tenancy agreements include anti-social behaviour conditions. Manchester Student Homes also outlines the action a landlord will take if a tenant is involved in any anti-social behaviour, defined as anything “likely to cause alarm, harassment, inconvenience, or distress to members of the public not of the same household as the perpetrator.”
The head of a local residents’ association welcomed the legislation.
“Anti-social behaviour and noisy parties are a seriously major problem in a large part of our area,” said Chairman of The Withington Civic Society Roger Smith. “So anything that can be done to stop this is much appreciated.
“Where we live is not a campus, but a lot of students say ‘oh, we didn’t realise it was a residential area.’
“Anything that will bring peace and quiet can only be applauded and greatly received.”
Peter Bowers, chair of Southeast Fallowfield Residents’ Group, also welcomed any deterrent, “anything that deters people from having noisy parties , particularly students, is welcome. At certain times of the year we suffer tremendously.
“Students may think its only students living in this area, but it’s not.”
Other powers Manchester council lobbied for include the ability to bail “young people” arrested on a technical offence to prevent custody in cells for up to 48 hours, and to be able to recover costs for dealing with anti-social behaviour from private landlords who don’t help with offences perpetrated by their tenants.
Cllr Paul, a University of Manchester alumnus, also said, “The big push for us is a voluntary behaviour change and it’s what we’ve been trying to do with our students for a number of years now.
“Many students just are not aware of their neighbours. Southeast Fallowfield and north Withington are dotted with various forms of institutions. Special needs adults, special needs youth, half way houses and hostels – the locations of all these tend to be deliberately kept quiet – a high dependency nursing home, and probably at least half a dozen old people’s homes.
“There are also lots of private houses with families, retired people, workers and so on.”