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 and communal areas or in individual dwellings.

What is Anti-social behaviour?

Anti-social behaviour takes a number of forms, ranging from serious acts of violence and harassment to overgrown gardens. Examples of anti-social behaviour include (but are not limited to):

  • 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. This includes 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
  • Hoarding

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.

Reporting Anti-social behaviour 

If you are subject to, or witness, anti-social behaviour, please call us on 01508 532000 (24hrs).

Alternatively you can email us on asbreport@saffronhousing.co.uk giving details of the problem.

Note: in some instances it will be more appropriate to make a complaint to another organisation. This includes 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?

We will investigate all reports of anti-social behaviour.

  • We will advise the complainant of a named Housing Officer who will deal with the case.
  • On receipt of a complaint, we will make contact with the complainant within five 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
  • We will keep you informed throughout the investigation
  • We will treat all complaints in confidence

During the investigation, we may contact the alleged perpetrator, neighbours, the Police, the Council and others as appropriate.

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 clean up the area 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. You should avoid getting into an argument whenever possible.

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. As part of this process, the ‘perpetrator’ will 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 may try a number of options before taking legal action.

These might include:

  • Early intervention by contact, giving advice and signposting as necessary
  • Warning letters and interviews
  • Referrals to other agencies (Social Services, Youth Offending Team, Council’s Community Safety Team, etc)
  • Mediation/Dispute Resolution

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 we actively promote it among our customers. 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).

What legal action can be taken? 

Typically, legal action is only taken in the most serious cases of anti-social behaviour. Legal action includes:

Service of a Notice of Seeking Possession: this 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

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. If we do not need to take action during the 12 months following a demotion, the tenancy will return to being an Assured tenancy.

What Support will you give me?

If we undertake legal action, we may require complainants 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. We will support complainants if they are required to attend Court to give evidence, and an appropriate member of staff will accompany them.

We will keep witnesses up to date on any progress in their 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. Harassment and hate crimes can take the form of physical or verbal abuse, intimation or any other behaviour that makes a person feel distressed, humiliated or threatened.

We encourage victims, witnesses and others (including third part reporters) to report such incidents and will support them and their families in doing this. We will take action against perpetrators as appropriate and work alongside the Police and other agencies as part of this.

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. We will deal with any such incidents swiftly and effectively.

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

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

If you believe that you, a member of your household or others is a victim of harassment or behaviour covered by hate crime legislation, you should report this matter to your Area Housing Officer or the Police.

We will treat any reports we receive in confidence and will not take action without your consent.

We will use remedies available to us and work with other agencies to ensure that the hateful and harassing behaviour of others never compromises your safety and security.

Domestic Abuse

We believe that none of our tenants, or those living with them, should live in fear of violence from a spouse, civil partner or partner, former spouse, civil partner or partner, or other member of their household including carers. For more information on our Domestic Abuse policy, please click here.

Hoarding

Compulsive hoarding is a recognised mental health disorder demonstrated by the excessive collection of possessions (often with little emotional or financial value) which the person is then unable or unwilling to discard. When severe it can lead to fires, falls, poor personal hygiene and other health concerns for the individual and have a negative impact on their neighbours and visitors, including Saffron staff.

Hoarding behaviour can put a tenancy at risk. We will aim to support residents to manage these risks and sustain their tenancies. As part of this, we will work jointly with statutory services including Social Services, GPs, and Community Mental Health teams, local fire services and voluntary sector organisations. Generally, Social Services will be the lead agency in such hoarding cases.

We will take appropriate action to reduce the risk where hoarding poses a fire or health and safety risk, and/or when hoarding results in a tenant being in breach of their tenancy/ licence (including damage to the property) and/or the hoarding is negatively affecting neighbours or other persons or has been reported as anti-social behaviour.

Multi-Agency Partnerships

Saffron does not operate in isolation, but as a part of the local community and in partnership with other organisations and agencies working to tackle ASB. Saffron works with a range of organisations including, but not exclusively; the Police, Probation Service, Social Services, Councils, schools, Health Services, Community Safety Partnerships, Operational Partnership Teams (OPTs) etc. in order to best address ASB and support sustainable communities. Saffron will continue its work in this area and will seek to develop further partnership arrangements.

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