Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. Dealing with anti-social behaviour
- 2. Steps you can take to deal with anti-social behaviour
- 3. Steps we'll take to deal with anti-social behaviour
- 4. Resolving disputes through mediation
- 5. Dealing with harassment
1. Dealing with anti-social behaviour
Anti-social behaviour covers a range of activities that affect people’s enjoyment of their homes and neighbourhoods and may include:
- abandoned vehicles
- drug or alcohol related nuisance
- verbal abuse
We want you to be happy in your home and local community and take anti-social behaviour seriously.
Anti-social behaviour is a serious breach of the tenancy agreement all tenants sign when they move into one of our homes.
The tenants handbook, tenancy agreement and the your safety service guide give full details of:
- your rights as a resident
- details of the legal action we may take against people who commit anti-social behaviour
- contact details for support services available to people who have experienced anti-social behaviour, nuisance or abuse.
Report anti-social behaviour
2. Steps you can take to deal with anti-social behaviour
What you can do will depend on the type of problem you have. If you are not sure what to do, contact us.
The following advice gives you some ideas on how to deal with a dispute with your neighbour. Disagreements with neighbours can arise over everyday things like badly behaved children, car parking and uncontrolled pets. It is often difficult to resolve problems without those involved talking to each other.
Speaking face to face with your neighbour
This is usually the best approach, as most people are reasonable if approached in person. It is certainly better than banging and shouting, which will generally make matters worse. It is also better than putting a note through their door, which can seem unfriendly.
Remember, people are often unaware that they or someone in their household are causing you a nuisance.
If you do not think it is safe, or if you feel uncomfortable approaching your neighbour, talk to your tenancy enforcement officer first.
Preparation – before approaching your neighbour
Think what you want to say before approaching your neighbour
- have a clear and simple message in mind and don’t stray from the main issue
- be clear about what the problem is and how it affects you
- try talking to a friend, your tenancy enforcement officer or a local advice agency such as the Citizens Advise Bureau about the problem, as this might make it clear in your mind.
When you speak to your neighbour
Try to stay calm and friendly, being aggressive is not going to help.
You should also:
- explain what the problem is, how you feel and how it affects you - often people may not realise that a problem exists
- listen to your neighbour and think about what they are saying - they too will have a view, and better results can be achieved if people listen as well as talk
- try not to interrupt your neighbour when they are talking
- try not to shout or use bad language, even if your neighbour does - it will help if you keep in control
- avoid bringing up incidents from the past, especially if they are not relevant to the present dispute - try instead to think how you want things to change for the future.
- if your neighbour is aggressive or unreasonable – leave the discussion
- if you think you're in danger or your neighbour threatens you with violence, contact the police and report it to us
- if the police are involved, always ask for the crime number - this is important when we carry out further investigation.
If talking to your neighbour doesn’t help, or is not an appropriate way to deal with the type of problem you have, contact us or report it to us.
3. Steps we'll take to deal with anti-social behaviour
We want you to be happy in your home and local community and take anti-social behaviour seriously.
Anti-social behaviour is a serious breach of the Tenancy agreement that all tenants sign when they move into one of our homes. If you are experiencing anti-social behaviour report it to us.
Assess the seriousness of the incident
Once we have received your report we will assess the seriousness of the problem before deciding what action to take. Below are the timescales for a response based on the seriousness of your issue.
|Risk rating and response time||Type of nuisance|
|High risk cases (24 hours to 1 working day)||Threats of physical assault, serious intimidation or harassment, racial incidents, domestic violence, serious damage to our property, insecure or abandoned premises.|
|Medium risk cases (2 to 5 working days)||Allegations of criminal activity, drug dealing, verbal abuse, youth nuisance, noise nuisance|
|Low risk cases (5 to 10 working days)||Minor neighbour disputes, minor breaches of tenancy, boundary and land issues|
Develop an action plan
Your Tenancy Enforcement Officer will agree an action plan with you to resolve the problem, and will confirm this in writing to you. They will be honest about the likely outcome of the various forms of action, particularly legal action.
Depending on what happened, the action plan might include:
- you approaching your neighbour. We would advise you to do this if suitable
- an officer interviewing or writing to your neighbour
- contacting the noise team if there is a noise problem
- collecting more evidence, including evidence from other witnesses
- starting legal action, court action will only succeed if the right evidence is available. Your tenancy enforcement officer can explain what the court requires
- involving Lambeth Council, other housing management departments, and / or other organisations.
Keeping you informed
Your tenancy enforcement officer will confirm the discussion and action plan in writing to you. This will include how and when they will contact you to discuss your case and offer support.
They will regularly review your case and decide with you any further action to be taken, so it is important that you let your tenancy enforcement officer know as soon as you can of any incident or anything you think might be relevant.
Closing your case
When closing a case we will always let you know in writing giving seven days notice of the intention to close the case. This gives you the opportunity to make a further complaint if you disagree with the case being closed.
On closure of the case you will be asked to complete a satisfaction survey which gives you the opportunity to feed back on how your case was handled, what else could have been done and your overall satisfaction. The comments and ratings from these satisfaction surveys will aid service improvement in the future.
4. Resolving disputes through mediation
Mediation can be a good way to resolve a dispute with a neighbour. A mediator provides confidential and impartial advice to help both parties resolve issues such as:
- anti-social behaviour
- parking issues
- abuse or threatening behaviour
- children’s behaviour.
Mediation is informal and confidential, and enables people to air their grievances. Everyone gets a fair chance to have their say, to be listened to and to get a response to their concerns.
First, each person involved in the dispute meets the mediators separately to help them decide what they want. Then, if they agree, they meet to discuss the situation and work out an agreement they can live with.
The service is free and very successful. The mediators are ordinary people who are professionally trained to deal with disputes of every kind. They make sure the discussion takes place in a way that is safe for everyone involved.
Your tenancy enforcement officer can give you more advice about the mediation service available to you.
5. Dealing with harassment
Harassment takes many forms, including violence, threats, abuse, and damage to property. It can involve verbal abuse and name calling, offensive graffiti or post. It may cause physical injury, mental stress, anxiety, or insecurity.
If you are being harassed
All incidents of harassment should be reported to us. Where possible, a tenancy enforcement officer will interview you within one working day. They will arrange the interview to suit your needs as much as possible, for example in your language or using a signer or by arranging wheelchair access.
At the interview the officer will ask for details of the incident(s) and will agree with you what action to take.
This may include:
- extra security to your home
- a community alarm, so that you can get help if you need it
- arranging for you to get more support
- taking action against the person responsible – they may have broken the terms of their tenancy agreement or lease
- re-housing – though only in the most serious cases, where it is necessary to protect you and your family.
Your tenancy enforcement officer will also tell you about other organisations or agencies, which can give you, help and support in dealing with the harassment. With your permission, they will pass on your details after the interview.
Sexual harassment may involve physical assault, verbal abuse or threats, damage to property or continual and unwanted sexual advances. It may come from someone you know, a partner or ex-partner, or from a stranger.
Report any case of sexual harassment to your housing officer, particularly if there has been violence or you feel at risk from possible violence. You can ask to speak to a housing officer of the same sex, or a black woman/male housing officer if you wish.
Racial harassment is hostility towards people because of their colour or ethnic origin. It includes physical assault, verbal abuse and name calling, threats, damage to property, racist graffiti, racist letters or posters.
Don't confuse racial harassment with quarrels with neighbours. Report any racial harassment to your housing officer as soon as possible. You can speak to a black housing officer if you wish.
Harassment because of religious belief
Our tenants are of many cultures and faiths. All tenants must feel free to follow the faith they choose without being harassed.
Harassment of the elderly
Many of our tenants are elderly. They make a valuable contribution to the community. The elderly often live alone and can easily be made to feel insecure.
Harassment of the physically or mentally disabled
People who are disabled have every right to be treated in exactly the same way as all other tenants. Many of these tenants are classed as 'vulnerable' in housing law and we have a duty to protect their interests.
Harassment of people with AIDS or who are HIV positive
Some of our tenants have AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) or have been told they are HIV positive (that is, they may develop AIDS or illnesses associated with AIDS at some time). In both cases they are not a health risk to any other person except through direct sexual contact.
We treat tenants who have AIDS as disabled. Harassment of people who are HIV positive or have AIDS is unacceptable. We employ a liaison officer to advise those with AIDS or who are HIV positive.
Harassment of lesbians or gay men
Lesbian and gay tenants have the same rights to live free from harassment as other tenants. Harassment of lesbian and gay tenants because of their sexuality is not acceptable.
Harassment of those living with you
Under your tenancy conditions you must not harass any person with a right to live in your home to make them leave the property or look for somewhere else to live. If you are violent, or threaten violence, towards your partner and they have to leave the home, we will go to court to evict you.
We will encourage any victim of domestic violence to report the matter to the police, their investigation may lead to prosecution.
Harassment of staff or our representatives
You or members of your household or visitors invited to you home must not threaten violence or be violent towards council staff or our representatives. We will apply to the court for an injunction and ultimately we may evict you.
Homelessness and harassment
If you apply to us as homeless because of harassment, we may ask you to give up your tenancy. However, we will not be able to guarantee that you will get a new tenancy and in most cases will provide temporary accommodation only for a limited period. If you think you may be in danger in your home, contact your housing officer.
If you have to leave your property because your partner has been violent towards you, or has threatened you with violence, we can go to court to evict your partner.
Arguments between neighbours often start from small things, but then get out of hand by running on for a long time and becoming serious. Report harassment or nuisance to us.
Mediation may help with day-to-day arguments and disagreements. Ideally both sides of the dispute must agree to take part in the mediation.