Dealing With Anti-Social Behaviour: What Options Do You Have?
As the UK was in lockdown for large periods of time over the last 18 months, we all spent more time at home than usual. Even though we are now out of lockdown, this situation is ongoing as more people continue to work from home, or spend less time in the office overall than before.
Due to this time spent at home, it is more common for people to have issues with their neighbours, potentially resulting in them suffering from anti-social behaviour (“ASB”) and harassment. The below sets out what options tenants and homeowners have in dealing with ASB.
Local Authority and Housing Association landlords should have an ASB policy in place. This can usually be found on their respective websites. In the event it is not accessible, you should request a copy. The policy should set out what steps these landlords will take when a tenant raises issues of ASB.
These landlords can take various steps which vary in severity. Initially it is likely they will investigate and warn the tenant who is responsible for the ASB. A further step could be mediation between the two parties, or requesting that the tenant enter into an Acceptable Behaviour Agreement.
If the above options are not enough and the landlord is of the view that they have sufficient evidence, they can make an application to the court under Part 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014 for an ASB injunction against a tenant. These injunctions prevent a party from doing something, for example playing music after a certain time or contacting another person. In addition, they can also require someone to do something, for example attend mediation or a behavioural course.
If the tenant breaches the injunction, the Landlord can then start possession proceedings against the tenant. Therefore, it is important that the tenant abides by the terms of the injunction, otherwise they risk arrest and potentially a fine or imprisonment and/or losing their home.
With any ASB matters, you are advised to keep a diary of events, including times and dates. This is useful for reporting to the landlord, as well as having a history of events in case you need to provide the landlord with a statement in the future. It is also advisable to maintain noise and video recordings, as these can also be used as evidence.
While it is important to continue to report any ASB incidents to your landlord, if you feel threatened or intimidated you should contact the police to report the same.
In the event that the Local Authority or Housing Association do not take sufficient action, you may be entitled to bring a Judicial Review (“JR”). A JR is where a public body is challenged through the courts for their failure to carry out a public function. For the purposes of a JR, Housing Associations are considered a public body as they carry out public functions. The public function in this scenario is the management of their housing stock, through how they deal with their tenants.
A final option is to bring a private injunction against a tenant. This involves making an application for an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. However, these are usually avoided in most situations as they are expensive. Therefore, it is always recommended that the first course of action is to pressure the landlord to take action.
Finally, in the event that an application for an injunction is made against you, it is important to be aware of how this can be challenged. Prior to any hearings, you should prepare a statement responding to any allegations made against you, as well as setting out the facts from your side. You should also raise any mitigating circumstances if relevant. The court will hear evidence from both parties before making a decision about an injunction.
If you’re in need of expert housing advice relating to anti-social behaviour because your Local Authority or Housing Association do not take sufficient action please call our highly experienced housing rights solicitors today on 0808 252 5231 to talk through your situation with us. Alternatively, you can request a call back online.