As a small community-based provider of housing and associated services jLiving strives to maintain positive and constructive relationships with all tenants and leaseholders. Staff work hard to assist tenants and leaseholders proactively and to respond to queries, enquiries and complaints. However, on occasion tenants and leaseholders may conduct themselves in ways that make it challenging for jLiving to provide an effective service to them and to others.
As a small team with limited resources, these resources have to be used equitably and prudently. In the event that the conduct or behaviour of a tenant or leaseholder starts to impact negatively on staff, our services or organisation, action will be taken to manage the impact of this behaviour.
What is unacceptable behaviour?
The following are examples of behaviour that is considered to be unacceptable – the list is not exhaustive.
- Using abusive or foul language directed at staff or contractors
- Using discriminatory language or behaviour directed at staff or contractors
- Physical, verbal or psychological threats towards staff or contractors
- Continued and unsubstantiated allegations about staff or contractors
- Harassment or intimidation of contractors using any means of communication
- Making excessive and or unreasonable demands of staff and contractors
- Excessive communication in any format
- Refusing to accept an answer and making repetitive demands.
Aggressive or abusive behaviour
In addition to physical aggression, this may include behaviour and language by any means, that may cause staff to feel abused, threatened or afraid. This may include threats, personal verbal abuse, physical violence, derogatory remarks, rudeness. jLiving also considers that inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations can also be deemed to be abusive behaviour. jLiving understands that a tenant or leaseholder may be angry because of something that has happened to them and may, rightly or wrongly, be angry with jLiving.
jLiving does not view behaviour to be unacceptable because an individual may be angry, determined or challenging, however it is not acceptable for anger to escalate to aggression and we have an expectation that all staff will be treated with courtesy and respect at all times and that this will be reciprocated.
Individuals may make unreasonable demands of jLiving by virtue of the amount of information that they request, the nature or scale of service that they expect or the number of approaches that they may make.
This may constitute demanding responses within an unreasonable timescale, insisting on speaking or seeing one particular member of staff continual phone calls, emails or letters, repeatedly changing the nature of complaint or query or raising an unrelated matter.
Demands are considered to be unacceptable and unreasonable when they impact substantially on the work of the Association. Taking up an excessive amount of time from one member of staff places other tenants at a disadvantage.
jLiving recognises that on occasion a tenant or leaseholder does not or will not accept that the Association cannot assist them further or provide a level of service greater than that already provided.
This may be a persistent refusal to accept a decision made in relation to a request or complaint, a persistent refusal to accept an explanation relating to what jLiving can or cannot do, contacting jLiving persistently about the same issue and or continuing to present or pursue a matter in the absence of any new information. Whilst the approach may be reasonable, the persistent behaviour is not.
Managing Unacceptable Behaviour
If a tenants behaviour affects our ability to do our work and provide a service to others, we may need to restrict that person’s contact with our staff. Wherever possible, we aim to do this in a way that preserves the tenant’s right to process everyday issues such as reporting repairs.
We may restrict contact in person, by phone, letter, or electronic communications or any combination of these. We will try to maintain at least one form of contact. In extreme situations, we will tell the tenant in writing that their name is on a ‘no personal contact’ list. This means that they must restrict contact with our staff to either written communication or through a third party.
The threat or use of physical violence, verbal abuse, or harassment towards jLiving or its staff is likely to result in the ending of all direct contact. Incidents may be reported to the Police. This will always be the case if physical violence is used or threatened. Tenancy enforcement action will be robustly pursued in these cases.
Managing abusive or offensive communication
If we receive communication in any form that is abusive to staff or contains allegations that lack substantive evidence, we will tell the sender that we consider their language offensive, unnecessary, and unhelpful. Whenever possible we will ask them to stop using such language and state that we will not respond to them if they do not stop. We may require future contact to be through a third party, and if they do not agree, we will no longer deal with them.
jLiving staff will end telephone calls if the caller is considered aggressive, abusive, or offensive. The staff member taking the call has the right to make this decision, tell the caller that the behaviour is unacceptable, and end the call if the behaviour does not stop. There may be other occasions when a member of staff needs to end a call without the agreement of the tenant, for example, if the tenant isn’t listening and/or the call is going round in circles. However, in any case, where we terminate a call, we will always warn the tenant at least twice before terminating a call. We will also always explain what will happen next, e.g. that we will ring them back another time, or that we will ask another member of staff to ring them.
Limiting access to jLiving (managing ‘unreasonable persistence’)
When someone repeatedly telephones, visits the office without an appointment, sends irrelevant or duplicate documents, or raises the same issues already considered, we may decide to:
- Only take telephone calls from the tenant at set times on set days or put an arrangement in place for only one member of staff to deal with calls or correspondence from that person
- Require the person to make an appointment to see a named member of staff before visiting the office
- Insist on ‘no person contact’ – that the tenant only contacts the office in writing (via email or letter)
- Return the documents to the person or, in extreme cases, advise them that further irrelevant documents will be destroyed
- Take other action that we consider appropriate. We will, however, always say what action we are taking and why.
When a tenant continues to correspond on a wide range of issues, and this action is considered excessive, then we will tell them that only a certain number of issues will be considered in a given period and/or responding in a specific timescale. We will ask them to limit or focus their requests accordingly.
How do we decide to restrict tenant contact?
Decisions to restrict contact with jLiving are only taken after careful consideration of the situation with the approval of the Chief Executive. Wherever possible, we will give the tenant the opportunity to modify their behaviour or action before this decision is taken. Tenants will be told in writing why a decision has been made to restrict contact, the restricted contact arrangements and, if relevant, the length of time that these restrictions will be in place.
Disability or vulnerability
jLiving also recognises that some disabilities may make it difficult for tenants to appreciate the impact that their behaviour may have on themselves, staff, and other tenants. Where we are aware that a tenant is vulnerable, disabled or has particular needs, staff will make reasonable adjustments to meet their needs. Examples of adjustments that may be made include (but are not limited to):
- Using different ways to communicate
- Signposting the tenant to other support services
- Arranging for a particular member of staff to act as a single point of contact.
We will manage all cases of unacceptable behaviour in three stages, providing tenants with the opportunity to change their behaviour at each stage.
Stage 1—Informing the tenant
The tenant will be informed that there have been times that their behaviour has been challenging and/or unacceptable. This will be provided in writing, with specific details of what has occurred and the impact that this has had. They will be asked to adjust their behaviour and offered the opportunity to explain any circumstances that may need to be considered by staff.
Stage 2—Formal action
If a tenant does not make reasonable efforts to change their behaviour or engage with staff to resolve the issue, formal action may be taken. This includes (but is not limited to):
- Limiting contact to a specific channel for all non-urgent enquiries, such as emails or letters only
- Arranging for a named member of staff to act as a single point of contact for the customer
- Responding to correspondence in a specified timescale, for example, weekly or fortnightly emails responding to non-urgent enquiries.
Tenants will be informed in writing if formal action is taken, including the reasons why action has been taken and the review period. In the formal correspondence, tenants will be informed that they have the right to appeal any arrangements, how to do so and when this should be submitted by.
A tenant can appeal a decision to restrict contact. Appeals should be made in writing to the Chief Executive, stating why the restrictions should not be put in place and what actions the tenant will be taking to change their behaviour. A jLiving Board member who was not involved in the original decision will consider the appeal. They will advise the tenant in writing either that the restricted contact arrangements still apply or that a different course of action has been adopted.