Anti Social Behaviour
Introduction & Scope
jLiving believes that every tenant and leaseholder should enjoy living in their home and scheme – however the Association is mindful that some tenants may cause a nuisance for their neighbours and may display behaviour that is unreasonable and by its very definition, Anti Social. In some situations this behaviour may be serious and on occasion criminal.
This policy outlines jLiving’s position on ASB, it will outline our approach in tackling ASB. It will ensure that tenants, leaseholders, staff and contractors have realistic expectations and understand their own personal responsibilities and will provide advice and guidance on tackling and resolving ASB incidents.
jLiving is committed to ensuring that tenants, leaseholders, staff and contractors do not suffer insecurity, fear or unnecessary distress as a result of ASB. The Association recognises and understands that ASB that is not challenged can have a significant impact on all affected.
The area and scope of ASB is broad and challenging and can vary from minor disputes between neighbours who may have different lifestyles and or personal challenges to severe nuisance, harassment and even violence. It is not always confined to individual properties but can occur anywhere either within or external to a scheme and can also involve individuals who are not tenants, leaseholders or staff.
jLiving is committed to addressing all forms of ASB in a professional, appropriate and consistent manner whilst remaining proportionate and mindful of all of the circumstances. jLiving will maintain a supportive and victim centred approach and will adopt a multi-agency approach and work with our partners in the Police and Local Authority to ensure the best outcome for all concerned.
ASB – Definition
The Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 – defines ASB as –
‘Conduct which is capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person and which directly or indirectly relates to or affects housing management functions or consists of or involves using or threatening to use housing accommodation for an unlawful purpose’
ASB can also be considered within different categories as defined by the Pan London Anti Social Behaviour Strategy Team:
Interpersonal and Malicious ASB – behaviour directed towards certain individuals, groups or organisations, that causes harassment, alarm or distress – e.g. intimidation or threats by neighbours, vandalism directed at groups or individuals and serious verbal abuse or hoax calls.
Environmental ASB – behaviour that either deliberately or through carelessness, degrades the local environment – e.g. dog fouling, noise nuisance, setting fire to rubbish, graffiti, abandoned vehicles, litter or fly tipping.
ASB restricting access to public space – threatening or physically obstructive behaviours that stop people using public spaces – e.g. intimidating groups of people, aggressive begging, street drinking, obstructive use of vehicles, public drug use, under-age drinking, use of bikes and vehicles on pavements and in parks.
Rights and Obligations
The Tenancy Agreement, whether it is a Starter Tenancy or Assured Non Shorthold – is a contract between jLiving and its tenants and gives rights and responsibilities to all. All tenants have the right to live peacefully in their own home but also have the responsibility of ensuring that they and or their visitors do not cause nuisance or harassment to others.
The Tenancy Agreement has a number of clauses clearly stating how tenants and their visitors must not do anything that causes a nuisance or harasses others. All tenants are reminded of these obligations at the time of the commencement of their tenancy and these are reviewed throughout the 1st year of the tenancy i.e. the Starter Tenancy period. These responsibilities are also indicated within the Tenants Handbook.
- To use the property for residential purposes only and as the tenants principal home – not to operate any trade, business or profession at the property or within the premises as a whole that might cause a nuisance or annoyance to other persons in the neighbourhood.
- Neither to cause nor to allow members of his or her household or visitors to cause a nuisance or annoyance to other persons in the neighbourhood or to any tenant agent employee or contractor of the Association.
- Neither to commit nor to allow members of his or her household or visitors to commit any harassment or threat of harassment on the grounds of race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability that may interfere with the peace and comfort of or cause offence to other persons in the neighbourhood or to any tenant employee or contractor of the Association.
- Neither to play nor to all to be played any radio television record or tape recording or musical instrument so loudly that it causes a nuisance or annoyance to other persons in the neighbourhood or can be heard outside the premises between the hours of 11.00pm and 8.30am.
- No pets are to be kept on the premises unless it is a Guide Dog – essential for a tenant’s peaceable occupation.
- To ensure that the religious observance of other tenants and their visitors is observed at all times.
- Not to block roadways and other vehicular access and to keep them and the car parking spaces clear of unroadworthy vehicles and other obstructions.
- Not to commit or allow / enable visitors to commit any act associated with the illegal use or supply of drugs.
- Not to commit or allow / enable visitors to commit threats, acts of violence or wilful damage to property.
Leaseholders are also required and expected to conduct themselves appropriately and in the same manner as tenants. Where ASB is found to exist the Association will adopt a similar approach to enforcement and support to leaseholders. Such remedies may include mediation, Acceptable Behaviour Agreements, Anti Social Behaviour Injunctions and or Orders – i.e ASBO or ASBI and in the most serious cases may take action to pursue the forfeiture of the lease.
Existing Prevention Methods
- Clauses relating to nuisance and ASB are included within existing Tenancy Agreements
- Obligations in terms of conduct and behaviour are discussed at tenancy sign up
- All new tenants are issued with a Starter Tenancy for a period of 1 year within which behaviour and conduct are monitored. Tenancies will not be extended if ASB has occurred.
- Working with local authority partners to ensure that balanced and sustainable communities are achieved and sustained.
- Multi agency working with external partners and agencies including but not limited– the local authorities with which we work, the Police and other housing providers.
- ASB policies and successful actions to be shared and publicised via the jLiving website where appropriate.
- Early intervention wherever possible in low level nuisance cases to prevent escalation.
If ASB is being experienced
If any tenant or leaseholder believes that they are experiencing ASB the following should be considered in the first instance:
- Consider whether your fellow tenant or neighbour has a different lifestyle or culture to you – are their actions really unreasonable
- Do you feel that you could talk to your neighbour or fellow tenant directly? This can be effective in instances of low level nuisance.
- If so – listen to your neighbour or fellow tenant – as they may also be suffering from nuisance.
- Advise your Scheme Manager in the first instance – either in writing, by telephone or face to face.
Any tenant or leaseholder must be aware of their own responsibility in assisting jLiving to resolve issues – this may include:
- Participating in mediation
- Maintaining a diary of events
- Making contact with Environmental Health if the nuisance relates to vermin or noise
- Making contact with the Police where a crime has been committed or there is immediate risk of harm.
- Being prepared to act as a witness in court if legal proceedings are pursued.
What will jLiving do – what can tenants and leaseholders expect?
Before taking any action jLiving will fully consider all of the issues including:
- How serious is the complaint
- Previous attempts that have been made to resolve the issue
- The frequency of the problem
- Have there been previous complaints about the alleged perpetrator
- What are the risks posed
- What support needs does the victim and/ or alleged perpetrator have
- Does jLiving have the authority and or jurisdiction to manage and resolve the issue
When ASB is reported it will be assessed as being category 1 or 2 depending on the gravity of the situation and will be managed accordingly.
Category 1 ASB will be instances of intimidation, immediate threat to wellbeing of an individual and violence. Category 2 cases are those where there is no immediate threat to the wellbeing of an individual and may include for example noise nuisance.
- Keep you informed of who is dealing with your complaint
- Advise you of the category of your complaint
- Where a visit is required – will visit within 24 hours of a Category 1 case and within 1 week for Category 2
- Advise you how to maintain a diary
- Advise you of your rights and responsibilities
- Advise of the options available to move forward
- Advise you of the action plan and timescale
- Carry out regular reviews – assess progress and review actions taken and planned
- Where matters are worsening, the situation will be reassessed and more stringent action may be taken if appropriate.
- Advise of alternative sources of support
- Close the case when the behaviour or nuisance ceases or when it is decided that no further action can be taken – e.g. neighbour disputes where one or both parties refuses to cooperate with the plans of action suggested and proposed by jLiving.
jLiving will make full use of the opportunities and remedies available to manage and remedy ASB – a planned approach will be adhered to based on the severity and frequency of events. These will include:
- Verbal and written warnings
- Acceptable Behaviour Agreements – written agreements between the person accused of ASB and jLiving and any other involved organisation.
- ASBO’s – Community Based Civil Orders made by a Court of law. Any breach of an order is considered to be a criminal act and can result in a prison sentence.
- Injunctions – An Order handed down by the Court that requires an individual to perform a specific act or to refrain from a specific act.
- When an Injunction is granted – the Court may also impose a Power of Arrest if there is a threat of violence or significant risk of harm.
- Possession – this is a last resort action to take possession of a property and evict the tenant/s where a Court is satisfied that a tenancy condition has been breached.
Support for witnesses & complainants
Whatever action is taken by jLiving, staff will ensure that any tenant or leaseholder experiencing ASB, whether complainant or witness remains supported and remains informed of progress and updates.
jLiving accepts that the responsibility to support complainants and witnesses may not end with a court hearing and will continue to provide support and guidance where appropriate and for as long as possible and feasible within the resources available.
Perpetrators of ASN
jLiving will endeavour where possible to ensure that perpetrators of ASB are afforded the opportunity to modify their behaviour and continue successfully with their tenancy. When complaints of ASB are received jLiving will assess the level of vulnerability or need for support of the perpetrator and work with the individual to access appropriate support where possible.
This may include, if appropriate, referral to the local authority or non-statutory services for additional support services, mental health services and in cases of Category 1 nuisance the Associations Welfare Officer service.
Where it is known that the perpetrators behaviour is directly linked to their disability every effort will be made to access appropriate specialist support wherever possible. Should this prove to be unsuccessful then the Association will progress with enforcement action. jLiving will however continue to encourage the perpetrator to engage with additional services to assist in modifying behaviour.
Commitment to multi-agency working
jLiving will remain committed to working in partnership with the following to minimise and mitigate the impact of ASB:
- Community Safety Teams – ASB Units
- The local Police and associated Safer Neighbourhood Teams
- Police Liaison Officers
- Other Registered Providers of Social Housing
- Care Agencies
- Support Agencies
- Victim Support Groups
- Local Authority Housing Departments
CONCLUSION –Information Sharing, Confidentiality & Data Protection
jLiving recognises that there can be a conflict between the desire for the complainant in an ASB case to preserve their identity and the requirement for the Association to progress matters particularly court or legal action. jLiving will always seek to endeavour to obtain permission from complainants or witnesses before disclosing information to the perpetrators of ASB or their legal representatives. The implications of not disclosing information will be carefully and appropriately discussed with complainants and witnesses and support will be offered.
Information about complainants and perpetrators will be shared with other agencies for the sole purpose of preventing further ASB and will be executed within a formally agreed Information Sharing Protocol.
Sharing information within communities where ASB is occurring is an essential tool in prevention – however care will be taken to ensure that confidentiality is not breached. Where Injunctions, ASBO’s, ABA’s are granted jLiving considers that it is not unreasonable to share this information with the wider community – specific grounds and details will not be disclosed.
jLiving recognises that particularly in the case of ASBO’s and ABA’s it may prove necessary to publicise information about the perpetrator and the terms of the Order to ensure that the Order is being fully complied with and to give reassurance that jLiving views matters of ASB seriously.
jLiving may communicate general information to the wider community however identities will be protected.
This policy remains subject to regular review and the Association remains committed to ongoing legal and regulatory requirements and best practice.