Anti-Social Behaviour

Anti-Social Behaviour

Anti-Social Behaviour

Anti-social behaviour and neighbour nuisance can cause considerable distress to residents and Saffron is committed to tackling this behaviour fairly and effectively. Saffron will take appropriate and proportionate action in dealing with disruptive tenants and other persons causing Anti Social Behaviour (ASB), nuisance or harassment in areas where we have homes, communal areas or in individual dwellings.

What is Anti-Social behaviour?

This can take a number of forms ranging from serious acts of violence and harassment to overgrown gardens, some examples are shown below:

  • Violence or threats of violence to any person.
  • Abusive or insulting words or behaviour.
  • Offensive behaviour under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Damage or threat of damage to property including graffiti.
  • Intimidation and harassment including the targeting of groups because of their perceived differences.
  • Domestic Violence.
  • Using or selling drugs or other illegal substances.
  • Use of the property for unlawful purposes.
  • Making an unreasonable level of noise by any means including shouting, slamming doors, operating tools or machinery or playing music, radio, television or other sound making equipment so   as to annoy neighbours or anyone else in the locality.
  • Allowing pets to make excessive noise, or to be a danger to others
  • Fouling of public areas.
  • Excessive accumulations of refuse or dangerous or polluting materials.

(The above list is not exhaustive or exclusive).

Your tenancy agreement – the legal contract between landlord and tenant – makes it clear that you are responsible for the conduct of all people (including children) living in or visiting your home.

How to Make a Complaint about ASB

Complaints of anti-social behaviour should be made to your Area Housing Officer, or email us on asbreport@saffronhousing.co.uk giving details of the problem or contact us on Freephone 0800 035 1440.

Note: in some instances it will be more appropriate to make a complaint to another organisation such as the Police in circumstances where it is an emergency or where a criminal act has taken place, or the local Council’s Environmental Health teams where a serious noise nuisance exists. In such circumstances Saffron Housing will liaise with these agencies over incidents and discuss options for overcoming problems.

What happens next?

All reports of anti-social behaviour will be investigated.

  • The complainant will be advised of a named Housing Officer who will deal with the case.
  • On receipt of a complaint, contact will be made with the complainant within 5 working days to confirm the nature of the problem
  • Information will also be provided on options for action and likely timescales involved.
  • A case ‘action plan’ will be provided
  • You will be kept informed throughout the investigation
  • Your complaint will be treated in confidence

The alleged perpetrator, neighbours, the Police, the Council and others may be contacted as appropriate during the investigation.

If the problem is an obvious one, we may be able to sort it out easily. For example if you tell us about an overgrown, rubbish-filled garden we can simply go round and check. We’ll tell the other person to get it cleaned up and take whatever action is necessary if they don’t.

But many cases aren’t quite so simple. If the anti-social behaviour is not obvious to everyone, or if it’s aimed directly at you – harassment and abuse for example – we will need to talk to you before we can start an investigation.

In most cases we will need to meet you to talk about the problem. We can do this wherever it suits you – in your home, at our office or at another appropriate location.

We’ll ask you questions to help us get a picture of the problem: who is affected; how they’re affected; where it happens; when it happens and why you think the person is acting anti-socially. We will want to speak to other people in your household who have been affected too.

At the end of the meeting we will discuss and agree a course of action with you.

What can you do?

If the case does not involve threats, violence or harassment, the investigation could start with a suggestion that you talk the problem through with the other person.

There’s always a better chance of solving a dispute if you try to see each other’s point of view.

Sometimes a neighbour just needs reminding that their behaviour is upsetting you.

As a good neighbour you should be reasonably understanding of the different lifestyles of others. For example you don’t have to put up with regular noisy parties but try to tolerate a one-off event – especially if you’re warned about it first.

If the other person is unreasonable, just walk away. Don’t get involved in an argument.

If the problem remains unresolved or the methods outlined above are not appropriate, further investigation of the case will be required; including further contact with the alleged perpetrator outlining the breach of tenancy conditions/nuisance/anti social behaviour that needs to be remedied. The ‘perpetrator’ must be able to present their view of the situation.

What you need to do

Keep us informed during the investigation. You will need to provide evidence of nuisance through the keeping of diary records.

There will be times when we believe that there is not a problem to resolve, or where evidence is insufficient. We will then advise you that we can take no action in a case.

You could decide to take your own action (injunction or private prosecution etc) but you should ensure you seek legal advice before proceeding.

What action can we take?

We would try a number of options before taking legal action.

These might include:

  • Warning letters and interviews
  • Referrals to other agencies (Social Services, Youth Offending Team, Council’s Community Safety Team, etc)
  • Mediation/Dispute Resolution
  • Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs)

Mediation/Dispute Resolution

Housing Officers will often recommend mediation in cases where there exists a dispute between tenants and their neighbours.

Saffron use an impartial external mediation agency and this can be an effective way of helping parties understand each other’s point of view, particularly as they will usually remain living as neighbours.

Mediation is voluntary and does not apportion blame, but tries to find a middle ground that people can agree on, and aim to work from there. It is a common misconception that the two parties will have to sit in a room and face each other. This is not always the case and the mediator will discuss the different options available to you.

Usually a trained mediator will visit each party in their home to discuss their point of view, before feeding the information back to the other party and gaining agreement from both residents about the way forward. This process can take several meetings with the mediator depending on the complexity of the dispute. Using mediation at an early stage can often prevent the problem escalating. Mediation is usually the best option in most cases and will be actively promoted. Sometimes, even when a nuisance has been going on for sometime, mediation can still work to help someone realise they are causing a problem and stop it (e.g. possible lifestyle clashes in the case of a young person living next to an older person).

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts

These ‘contracts’ clearly set out the behaviour that is unacceptable and the ‘perpetrator’ agrees not to continue to act in that way. They are seen as a warning and sometimes lead to Anti-Social Behaviour Orders.

What legal action can be taken? 

This is usually limited to the most serious cases and can include:

Service of a Notice of Seeking Possession which is the first step towards ending a tenancy

Possession Orders/Suspended Possession Orders. These are Court Orders that end a tenancy. They can result in the tenant being evicted or in the case of a ‘suspended’ order, the tenant is given a final chance to change their behaviour. These orders are at the ‘discretion’ of the Court and it must be ‘reasonable’ for the Court to grant possession

Injunctions: these are Court Orders preventing or requiring particular actions

Anti Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) – can be obtained against anyone aged 10 and over who has behaved in a way likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. The Court may make an order prohibiting specified acts and/or exclude the subject from an area

Demoted tenancies – the Court can order that an Assured tenancy becomes a less secure Assured Shorthold tenancy. Possession may then be sought if there is a further breach of tenancy conditions. A demoted tenancy will cease to be demoted after 12 months if no action is taken.

What Support will you give me?

If legal action is undertaken, complainants may be required to make formal statements describing the ASB/neighbour nuisance caused. We will also consider the use of professional witnesses where appropriate.

Complainants may also be asked to attend Court proceedings in order for us to prove a case against the perpetrator. If witnesses are required to attend Court to give evidence they will be supported in this and will be accompanied by an appropriate member of staff.

Witnesses will be kept advised of progress in a case and the legal processes involved. Support to witnesses may include:

  • Referral to specialist witness support groups
  • Installation of witness support measures such as alarms, improved home security, panic buttons
  • Temporary rehousing if appropriate
  • Regular visits from Housing Officers

Harassment and Hate Crime

Saffron has a clear commitment to addressing incidents of harassment and hate crime.  Victims, witnesses and others (including third part reporters) will be encouraged to report such incidents and they and their families will be supported in doing this. Action will be taken against perpetrators as appropriate and will involve joint working with the Police and other agencies.

As a tenant of Saffron, it is a breach of tenancy conditions for tenants or any person living in or visiting the property to harass or intimidate others on the grounds of race, colour, religion, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, appearance or mental or physical capacity and we are committed to dealing with such incidents swiftly and effectively.

If the harassment is by someone who is not a Saffron tenant, this does not prevent us from taking action.

Racial Harassment

We encourage people to report racially motivated incidents to us and will support complainants and their families and take action against perpetrators as appropriate.

“A racist incident is any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person” – the MacPherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence – March 1999. It might take the form of physical or verbal abuse, racist graffiti or intimidation.

As a tenant of Saffron, it is a breach of your tenancy conditions to harass someone on the grounds of race, colour or religion and we are committed to dealing with such incidents swiftly and effectively.

If the perpetrator is a Saffron tenant, an occupant of one of our properties, or a visitor to a Saffron property, we will investigate and may subsequently seek a Possession Order of the property and if necessary, the subsequent eviction of the occupants.

If you believe that you or a member of your household – or others is a victim of racial harassment or racist behaviour, you should report this matter to your Area Housing Officer or the Police.

All complaints will be treated in confidence and no action will be taken without your consent.

We will use remedies available to us and work with other agencies to ensure that your safety and security is not compromised by the racist behaviour of others.

Domestic Violence

We believe that none of our tenants or those living with them, should live in fear of violence from a spouse or partner, former spouse or partner, or other member of their household, and we will take steps to assist and support any person suffering from or threatened with violence.

Such violence may be physical, emotional or psychological. Where domestic violence is suspected in relation to a child or someone with special needs a referral will be made to an appropriate agency.

We aim to offer assistance to those who are suffering from domestic violence or threats of violence either from someone within their own home, or from someone outside their home (such as a boyfriend/girlfriend or former partner).

What we can do

All victims of domestic violence will be interviewed by an appropriate member of staff within one working day of asking for assistance.

The victim will be offered an interview with a staff member of the same sex. Interviews will be carried out in a sympathetic and supportive manner. The victim will be assured of confidentiality.

The victim will be advised of possible courses of action, both to respond to the immediate situation and to deal with the longer term.

If the victim is unable to return home, the member of staff will liaise with the local council regarding the provision of temporary accommodation, subject to the wishes of the victim.

Where the victim has left the accommodation, and subject to his or her wishes, we will consider taking action to evict the perpetrator of the violence using powers under the Housing Act 1996 and the tenancy agreement.

If the victim is able to remain in his or her home temporarily, we will explore the option of offering a transfer.

If the victim feels able to remain in his or her home either temporarily or permanently, but requests additional security measures, we will consider assistance.

We aim to ensure the safety of our staff, Non-Executive Directors, contractors and agents at all times, so we will not tolerate any kind of threats or threatening behaviour against them.

Violence is not confined to physical violence against the person, but includes damage to our property or that of our employees and others.

You are responsible for the behaviour of your family, other people who live with you and your visitors. If any of these people become violent towards any of our employees or others you will be held responsible for their actions.

If a member of staff, Non-Executive Director, contractor or agent experiences any form of violence, threats or verbal abuse, we encourage them to report it. This may lead to criminal prosecutions as well as legal action to repossess your home, as it is a breach of your tenancy agreement.

 

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