Antisocial Behaviour can take many forms. These may include nuisance caused by animals; dumping of rubbish; business use that causes disturbance; inappropriate use of communal areas. It can also include noise, domestic abuse, aggression, harassment and hate crime, threatening or unlawful behaviour or any action that causes disturbance, alarm or distress. We have used both terms ‘anti-social behaviour’ (ASB) and ‘nuisance’ here – these terms are commonly used for any of these actions.
We want our estates to be safe and secure places to live and will neither tolerate nor condone antisocial behaviour. You can help by being considerate to those around you. All residents are responsible for the behaviour of household members and their visitors.
This section covers the range of behaviour and actions that may be defined as anti-social behaviour or nuisance. It suggests ways that you can prevent or resolve them as well as actions that we might take.
Antisocial behaviour policy
A summary of Orwell’s antisocial behaviour policy and procedures, as required by Section 12 of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003, is available on Orwell’s website and on request from our offices.
Being a 'Good Neighbour'
Being a good neighbour means treating others as you would like to be treated yourself. You can avoid neighbour disputes or causing nuisance in the following ways:
- Introduce yourself to the neighbours before you move in and warn them there might be some disturbance during the moving and settling in period.
- Don’t cause noise that can be heard outside the home at unreasonable hours. This includes noisy household and media equipment, slamming doors, swearing and fighting.
- Tell your neighbours (or invite them) if you plan a party. Don’t play music too loud, and ask visitors to be quiet when they leave. If you follow these rules, occasional parties are fine, but frequent parties or loud groups of visitors in your home are unacceptable.
- Keep your music player or TV at a reasonable volume at all times. Call on your neighbours to test what volume can be heard, and mark the volume control with a piece of sticky tape to indicate the acceptable level.
- Control your pets at home and on the estate – remember you must have our permission for anything except a small pet in a container. Don’t leave dogs alone at home barking, nor let them run loose on foul the estate. Use the animal waste disposal bins provided. In some sheltered and supported housing stricter rules about pets apply. Please ask if in doubt.
- Don’t leave rubbish out on the wrong day or in the wrong place, nor allow it to build up in your garden or in communal areas. It can cause both an obstruction to passers by and encourage vermin.
- Recycle as much as you can. On some estates communal bins are available for recycling. Please make sure that the correct waste is placed in the correct bin.
- Don’t drop litter on the estate. Take it home or put it in a bin.
- Don’t do major car repairs at your home or on the estate. Minor routine servicing is fine, so long as you don’t play music too loud while you are doing it. And don’t leave the car with music playing loudly, children shouting or the engine running. Clear up all oil and fuel spillages.
- Be clear about where, and what type of vehicle, you may and may not park on the estate, and do not leave any vehicle untaxed or unroadworthy. Drive carefully, there may be cyclists, pedestrians or children playing.
- Don’t let children or young people play unsupervised on the estate or in communal areas in ways that could cause damage, danger, distress or nuisance.
Orwell’s approach to preventing antisocial behaviour
We are committed to the elimination of all forms of antisocial behaviour and will neither condone nor tolerate it. We:
- Train and update staff regularly to ensure they can act effectively to address all forms of antisocial behaviour.
- Have signed up to the government’s voluntary Respect ASB Charter for Housing’ which commitments around improving quality of life by tackling unacceptable behaviour either through prevention or taking action.
- Make physical improvements to estates to reduce the opportunity for nuisance, and involve other agencies to support people or to help individuals remedy their behaviour.
- Include conditions in all our tenancy agreements requiring residents not to cause, or allow their household members or visitors to cause, any form of antisocial behaviour in or near our estates or offices.
- Ask all tenants to sign ‘Good Neighbour Agreements’.
- Apply to the court to ‘demote’ the status of any full assured or secure tenant who commits significant antisocial behaviour.
- Tenancies with a probationary period and ‘demoted’ tenancies can be ended by the landlord during their first year for antisocial behaviour through a very simple legal process.
Although we will not hesitate to take action against residents who cause serious or persistent antisocial behaviour, we will not generally get involved in personal disputes between residents, where there is no clear ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, as this can often make matters worse. We consider a ‘neighbour dispute’ to be a disagreement about what is regarded as ‘normal’ or appropriate behaviour or actions, i.e. lifestyle issues, the effects of which are confined to the two parties. If we do get involved we will try to:
- Listen to and understand both sides.
- Encourage an amicable approach.
- Help the tenants find a compromise solution acceptable to both.
- Arrange external mediation services, if appropriate.
What is antisocial behaviour and nuisance
Antisocial behaviour or nuisance may include:
- Noise nuisance (loud parties, shouting, noise from TVs, radios and hi-fi’s).
- Local environmental quality issues (litter, graffiti, abandoned household rubbish, fly tipping, unkempt gardens).
- Nuisance from business activity (noise, smell, excessive visitors).
- Vehicle related nuisance, including use of any type of motorised vehicle as well as pedal cycles, skateboards etc (noisy vehicle use or repairs; inconsiderate, obstructive, dangerous or illegal parking; abandoned vehicles; damage; joy riding; travelling on balconies and footpaths.
- Animal-related nuisance (uncontrollable animals, fouling, excessive numbers, noise nuisance, prejudicial to health.
- Aggressive, discriminatory, abusive, insulting or threatening language or behaviour, including verbal or actual violence against people and property.
- Criminal actions, damage to property and vandalism.
- Alcohol, drug and other substance misuse, including dealing.
- Street nuisance including soliciting, offensive drunkenness and threatening groups of people.
Harassment and hate crime
Harassment may involve intimidation, bullying or hate behaviour towards persons or groups because of their perceived differences, e.g. on the grounds of race and ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, mental health, physical or sensory disability.
Orwell will not tolerate any form of harassment including racial, homophobic and hate crime, and would do everything in its power, including involving the police and specialist agencies, to support any person suffering. We treat all cases as serious and respond with urgency, within 24 hours.
Orwell defines domestic abuse as ‘any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality’. We take a non-judgemental, victim centred approach to help and support a person to consider appropriate action. This could include seeking a court order to prevent the abuse or require the abuser to live elsewhere, or seeking suitable and supportive temporary or permanent accommodation for the victim (and any affected children). If you suffer from domestic abuse you should contact us for confidential guidance. We employ specialist support staff to support people fleeing domestic abuse.
What you could do if you suffer from nuisance
You should report to the police immediately any matter that involves assault, threatening behaviour or criminal activity. Tell your Housing Officer as soon as the Orwell office is open.
In other cases:
- Endeavour to discuss the matter with the person concerned, if you feel safe and secure doing so. Then allow time for whatever you agreed to be put into practice.
- Contact your Housing Officer for advice on how to deal with the matter yourself.
- If the problem is persistent noise, you can report it to the Environmental Health Department at the local Council. If it is a one-off problem of excessive noise at night e.g. a party, this department has powers to attend immediately, but not all councils operate a night service.
- If you cannot, or are fearful of, trying to resolve a nuisance problem yourself, or you consider it to be unlawful, significant, persistent, affecting many households or involves harassment, ask your Housing Officer to get involved.
What Orwell will do...
When you report nuisance or anti-social behaviour we will ask some questions to identify how serious or persistent the matter is, how many households it affects and whether we feel you could try to resolve it yourself. We would offer advice about how to do this, and we will check later to see whether you have been successful.
- Will consider whether there is any risk to you, and, if necessary take immediate action to prevent this.
- Will arrange to visit you within 5 working days or 24 hours if the problem appears to require urgent investigation e.g. harassment, serious and immediate risk, realistic threats of violence or physical abuse, unlawful activity. We will normally also visit the person, or parents of a child, you believe is causing the problem, and any witnesses that can be identified.
- Will discuss and agree with you what needs to be done to resolve the problem.
- Will discuss with you the various options for resolving the ASB, including what action could be taken and how long the various actions might take and the chances of success.
- Will keep you regularly updated, providing emotional or other support if required. However we cannot disclose any confidential details.
- May involve other agencies such as the local Council, the Police, Schools, Community or Voluntary services.
- May provide physical equipment to keep you safe and secure if there is a potential threat, but we will not normally move a person to escape anti-social behaviour, as this may be seen by the person causing the problem as a ‘victory’. However, if after full consideration of the case a temporary move is considered necessary we could do so urgently.
- Will ensure a staff member contacts you to check whether you are satisfied with the way the problem has been, or continues to be, dealt with.
- Keep full records of all nuisance and anti-social behaviour incidents reported and share it, as appropriate, with Police and other social landlords so that such behaviour can be tracked and dealt with.
Remedies that Orwell could use (alone or with others)
We will use the following remedies to prevent or resolve antisocial behaviour and nuisance:
- Try to reach an amicable solution to a neighbour dispute using external mediation services if appropriate.
- Cost recovery – recharge a person for the cost of replacing or putting right damage they have caused.
- Environmental Protection Act – working alone or with other agencies to prevent or resolve a statutory nuisance.
- Temporary move or transfer – only used where there is threat of physical violence or a persistent and significant neighbour dispute cannot be resolved. Transfers must be dealt with in accordance with the transfer procedure.
- Work in partnership with other agencies – to provide support to help a person recognise the problem and amend their own, or their child’s, behaviour.
- Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) – a regularly reviewed agreement between Orwell and a person committing nuisance, usually but not always a child or young person, involving police and social services. A first step that, if breached, may lead to legal action.
- An injunction is a court order requiring a person to do, or to stop doing, something. It can be obtained, usually very rapidly, against any person aged 18 or over, not just Orwell residents. In exceptional cases involving violence or threats of violence an injunction may be granted without notice, and may include a power of arrest. It can be used to protect a witness.
- Antisocial Behaviour Order and injunctions may be used against children aged 10 or over as well as against adults, for behaviour causing, or likely to cause, alarm or distress. We will work with the police and social services and, because it can only be used as a last resort where other measures, such as an ABC, have failed, as it can take time to prepare. Breach of this injunction is a criminal offence.
- Demotion of tenancy to an assured shorthold for a 12 month period, during which eviction for further ASB can be brought about with relative ease. Orwell will only use demotion in cases where a severe warning is required but Orwell considers possession action to be inappropriate at that time, or unlikely to be successful.
- Possession procedures – Orwell considers possession action a last resort for ASB, only appropriate where the residents themselves are committing, or wilfully failing to prevent their household members or visitors committing, significant and persistent ASB or harassment.
- Absolute grounds for possession where ASB or criminality has been proven by a court.
We will also work with the Police and Local Authorities to assist them to take the following action:
- Criminal Behaviour Orders
- Crime Prevention Injunctions
- Community Protection Orders
- Community Protection Notices
- Closure powers
- Direction powers
- Community triggers
- Community remedies
Taking Legal Action
If we need to take legal action the following steps will be necessary:
- Try to resolve the problem appropriately before considering legal action.
- Record the process, including letters and notes of interviews/phone calls, to demonstrate that effort was made but was unsuccessful.
- Identify, support and train witnesses both to keep evidence of the offensive behaviour, as well as to appear in court if necessary.
- Note that where there may be risk to a witness, a civil court may be willing to accept hearsay or anonymous evidence, and not require a witness to be identified or to appear in court.
- If we need help in court from you or from other witnesses, we will explain the court procedure and give you time to make the decision. If you agree, we will show you how to keep records and, if necessary, how to give evidence.
- When sufficient evidence is gathered, we will complete the paperwork and submit it to the Court.
- In most cases the Court serves notice of proceedings on the person and summons them to a hearing. See above regarding certain injunctions that may be heard without Notice. The case subject has a right to respond and the response would be copied to us and all witnesses.
- In most legal action for ASB and nuisance we would use a solicitor.
- We will not apply to court if more appropriate action can be taken, such as criminal charges.
Keep a record or diary of problems as they occur. Be as specific as you can in recording names, times, locations, what actually happened and how it affected you.
- Include details of who else witnessed the problem.
- Information will be treated confidentially and your personal details will not be disclosed unless we have your permission.
- Evidence doesn’t have to be in writing, it could be, for example, audio taped.