Closure of premises

Closure orders allow the courts, on an application from the police, to close any premises that are associated with significant levels of disorder or nuisance.

This content applies to Scotland

Definition of premises

This new provision in relation to antisocial behaviour was introduced on 28 October 2004. [1]

The definition of premises is very broad and this provision therefore applies to residential property such as a house or a flat as well as commercial premises and common areas. [2] It could also include a room within a hostel, a house in multiple occupation or bed and breakfast hotel. [3] Scottish Ministers do have a power to exclude some types of premises from this provision but no regulations have yet been made that would allow any type of property to be excluded. [4]

Purpose of closure

The intention is that the closure of premises should only be sought after all other methods of dealing with the antisocial behaviour have been exhausted. It is expected that there will be extensive consultations between the police and local authorities before any action on the closure of a premises is taken. [5] This should allow local authorities to work with the affected people to prevent homelessness and find new accommodation if needed. [6] In addition to homelessness, housing benefit issues may arise if a closure order is granted. For more information, please see the sections on homelessness and on Housing Benefit.

Closure notice

A closure notice is the first step in closing a property. The purpose of the closure notice is to tell anyone with an interest in the property that an application will be made to close the premises. If at any time during the previous three months a person has engaged in antisocial behaviour on the premises, and the use of that premises is associated with the antisocial behaviour, [7] the police can decide to serve a closure notice. This prevents anyone other than the owner or those who normally live there from entering the property. [8] Problems that could be addressed by a closure notice include: [9]

  • intimidating and threatening behaviour

  • an increase in crime in the immediate area of the property

  • gun possession or usage

  • prostitution

  • drugs

  • drinking dens

  • disruption caused by people coming and going, including noise.

The police must consult with the local authority and ensure that reasonable steps have been taken to identify those who live in, or have an interest in, the property. [10] Once this has been done, the notice can be served and the final decision on whether to do so lies with the police. An individual, such as a neighbour, cannot request that the police serve a closure notice. S/he would have to make a complaint about the antisocial behaviour and an investigation would be carried out as normal. When the investigation is concluded, the police would decide whether to pursue closure of the premises.

Closure order

Once a closure notice has been served, the police can apply to the court for a closure order. [11] If the court decides to issue a closure order, all access to the property is denied for a period of three months. [12] This includes the owner, anyone who normally lives there, anyone who has to carry out work on the property and utility providers unless s/he has been authorised to do so. [13] The property can be closed for a maximum period of six months if the police apply to the courts to extend the order. [14]

The intention here is to remove the source of the antisocial behaviour but the closure of a property does not mean that the owner or tenant's right to live there again has ended. [15] When the closure order expires or is revoked, s/he can return to the property. If problems continue, then the whole process would have to start again or a landlord would have to take other action to repossess the property.

Last updated: 29 January 2020

Footnotes

  • [1]

    Part 4 Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004; The Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004 (Commencement and Savings) Order 2004 SSI 2004/420

  • [2]

    s.40 Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [3]

    para.21 Guidance on Closure of Premises Scottish Executive 28 October 2004

  • [4]

    s.26(2) Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [5]

    para.31 Guidance on Closure of Premises Scottish Executive 28 October 2004

  • [6]

    Chapter 2 para. 2.70 Code of Guidance on Homelessness 2005

  • [7]

    s.26(3)(a) and s.40 Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [8]

    s.26(1) Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [9]

    para.9 Guidance on Closure of Premises Scottish Executive 28 October 2004

  • [10]

    s.26(3)(b) Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [11]

    s.28(1) and s.28(2) Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [12]

    s.29(1) Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [13]

    s.31 Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [14]

    s.32(2) Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Act 2004

  • [15]

    para.74 Guidance on Closure of Premises Scottish Executive 28 October 2004