Anti-Social Behaviour Frequently Asked Questions

Questions

 

Answers 

What is anti-social behaviour?

Monmouthshire Housing Association defines anti-social behaviour as:’Any type of aggressive, intimidating or destructive activity that damages or destroys another person’s quality of life”.This behaviour may or may not constitute criminal activity.

Anti Social Behaviour or nuisance behaviour is behaviour that causes, or is capable of causing, nuisance or annoyance to others.  This may be any of the following :-

Noise nuisance; Verbal abuse; Hate Related incidents; Vandalism or damage to property; Nuisance from pets and animals; Vehicle nuisance; Drug and substance misuse or dealing; Alcohol related nuisance; Domestic abuse; Physical violence; Criminal behaviour; Prostitution / sexual acts; Harassment; Intimidation; Threatening behaviour; Litter/rubbish; Garden nuisance; Misuse of communal areas.

Our leaflets What is ASB? [pdf] 127KB and Managing ASB [pdf] 112KB contain further details.

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What is not considered to be anti social behaviour ?

We will not treat as anti social behaviour matters relating to residents going about their normal everyday activities, unless this constitutes a breach of their tenancy. Examples of issues which may upset or disturb people but which cannot be dealt with as anti social behaviour are-

flushing toilets, cooking smells , people  smoking in their own home, people talking at normal volume in their home, washing machines or other household appliances, babies crying or playing, children playing or arguing, riding skateboards or bikes, playing football in the street, people being inconsiderate or thoughtless , people looking or staring , cats straying into other gardens.

Our leaflet What is ASB? [pdf] 127KB contains further details

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How can I report anti social behaviour?

You can report problems with anti-social behaviour to Monmouthshire Housing Association in any of the following ways:-

  • By telephone to our Head Office at Mamhilad on:

0845 677 2277 (local call rate), or
01495 761100 (if you are calling us from a mobile)

  • Directly through our Reporting ASB form.
  • Directly to a member of MHA staff either in person or by telephone.

 If it is appropriate or you think the ASB may be crime related you can also report ASB to Gwent Police using their non emergency telephone line – Call 101.

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How quickly will you respond to my complaint of anti-social behaviour ?

We categorise Anti-Social Behaviour as either ‘Urgent’ or ‘Nuisance’ anti-social behaviour.

In line with our Service Standards,  if you make a complaint that we categorise as ‘Urgent’ anti-social behaviour such as: physical assaults, serious criminal behaviour, domestic violence or hate crimes. We will contact you within ONE working day.

If you make a complaint that we categorise as ‘Nuisance’ anti-social behaviour such as : non-physical abuse, noise nuisance, youth nuisance, selling or using  drugs illegally, loud music, offensive drunkenness, dog barking and fouling, bonfires, burning of rubbish, fly tipping or littering we will contact you within FIVE working days.

Our leaflet Managing ASB [pdf] 112KB has further information on how we deal with complaints of Anti Social Behaviour.

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Can I make an anonymous complaint of anti-social behaviour ?

We will investigate anonymous complaints where possible. However, we will not be able to provide feedback to the complainant nor will we be able to gain further information and this is likely to limit what action we can take.   If you give your name when you make a complaint of ASB to us we will not disclose this to the person causing the ASB without your permission.

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My neighbours are noisy. What can I do?

Try talking to your neighbour in an amicable way first, they may not realise they are disturbing you. Don’t be too hasty, if a noise nuisance is only occasional or is a one off event it may not be appropriate to take the matter up. Some noise nuisance will be considered anti social behaviour but some is not. For further details and advice concerning noise nuisance MHA has devised a leaflet specifically dealing with this subject. The leaflet is available to view on the MHA website or you can request that we send you a copy in the post. If you are encountering noise nuisance which is anti social behaviour and either you or the person causing this is an MHA tenant you can report this to us - Reporting ASB.

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Will the person complained  about know that I have made a complaint ?

MHA  takes the confidentiality of anyone reporting anti-social behaviour very seriously. This means that any information, written or verbal, will be held in confidence and treated with the utmost care.

When you make a complaint, we will discuss with you, any action that we propose to take to ensure that you are comfortable with the proposed action.

Whilst we will do everything possible to protect your identity you need to consider that if you are making a complaint about a neighbour   regarding an incident that only you could have witnessed, then they may know that it is you who has made the complaint.

You should also be aware that if you go to court and you have provided a witness statement, a copy of this will be provided to the alleged perpetrator.

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I have been asked to complete diary sheets, why do I need to do this ?

Complainants may be asked to complete diary sheets or logs recording incidents that occur in order for MHA to assess the anti-social behaviour and decide what action to take.   We will not ask you to complete log sheets for long periods unless this is essential to provide evidence in court.   In cases where legal action is taken, these logs are likely to be used as evidence to put to the court in support of the case along with other evidence such as witness statements.  We will never use log sheets that someone had completed as evidence in court without their permission.  Complaints of anti-social behaviour may be asked to appear as witnesses in court to support any legal action that may be taken. When we ask people to become witnesses we will support them, through the whole process.

Our leaflet Managing ASB [pdf] 112KB has further details.

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I am a victim of anti-social behaviour, will you move me ?

As a means to resolve anti-social behaviour we will not move either the complainant or the perpetrator unless there are exceptional circumstances. We will work with all parties to resolve the nuisance behaviour. Tenants can still apply for a move in the usual way by registering with the Monmouthshire Homesearch team.

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My neighbours are causing anti social behaviour. Will you move them?

Monmouthshire Housing Association’s aim is to act to put a stop to anti social behaviour. All MHA tenants have rights as well as responsibilities under their tenancy agreement and in order to move a person out against their will we would have to apply to the court for Possession of the property followed by eviction proceedings.   A judge will make the decision whether to award a Possession Order based on the evidence given at court. 

Taking someone’s home from them by eviction is the strongest possible action that a landlord can take and is a very last resort as a means of stopping  anti social behaviour .   MHA, in working together within the Monmouthshire Community Safety Partnership, must employ other methods of stopping the asb  first.   If we have tried other ways and these have not successfully reduced or stopped the asb we can still only apply to the court for an eviction but only if it is reasonable to do so given the level and seriousness of the problem.   

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I am going to be a witness in court, will I be supported ?

If you have been asked to be a witness in court to support legal action that MHA is taking against a perpetrator of ASB we will support you throughout the process including before and after the court hearing date.  

  • We will always give you the name and contact details of the MHA officer who is dealing with the case and you can call anytime if you have a question or if you wish to discuss any concerns that you may have, or anything  else relating to the action.
  • We will keep in touch with you on a very regular basis throughout the process.
  • We will make a referral for you to Victim Support if you wish.   Victim Support is an organisation that specifically supports people who are involved in any court action as a witness or victim of a crime or anti social behaviour.
  • We will clearly explain the court process to you.
  • We can take you to see the court when it is not in session prior to the court hearing.
  • We can organise a separate waiting room on the day of the court hearing so that you do not have to wait alongside people who are there for the defence.
  • We can provide transport for you to get to the court and back home if you require this.
  • Either an MHA staff member or a Victim Support worker will stay with you throughout the court hearing and any waiting time.     

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 I am a victim of hate crime, what should I do ?

If you report an incident of hate crime, we will deal with your case urgently and in a sensitive and understanding way. There are a number of ways we offer support to you :

  • We will work with you to ensure that you feel safe in your own home by offering target hardening measures such as window alarms, extra locks and letter box covers.
  • With your consent we will make a referral to a support agency
  • If you report offensive graffiti we will aim to remove this within 24 hours
  • If you report damage to your property as a result of hate crime, we aim to repair this within 24 hours.

 Any reports of hate-related incidents or hate crime made to MHA will be dealt with under our Anti-social Behaviour policy. Reports will be thoroughly investigated and those who are guilty of this will be held accountable. As well as being a criminal offence, hate crime is also a breach of tenancy.

For further information, see our Hate Crime ASB [pdf] 111KB leaflet

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I am suffering from domestic abuse, can I get support ?

MHA will work with partner agencies  to offer help and support for anyone, regardless of gender,  suffering from domestic abuse. All complainants and witnesses will be offered support throughout the investigation and will be dealt with in a confidential and sensitive manner.

MHA will advise, support and assist anyone who is associated with one of our tenancies or leaseholders and who is in fear of, or actually suffering from domestic abuse.

Further information is available from our Domestic Abuse ASB [pdf] 109KB leaflet which also provides valuable contact information for agencies supporting victims of domestic abuse.

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You have contacted me about anti-social behaviour, what shall I do?

If we have made contact with you to discuss anti-social behaviour following a complaint that has been made about you, please do not ignore it. Contact us as soon as possible to discuss the matter; it is important that we understand both sides of the story. 

 If you are causing anti social behaviour and you do not engage with us to deal with this MHA may have to consider taking enforcement action against you.   It is far better that we are able to discuss this with you so that you understand the impact that the behaviour is having on others and what needs to be done to stop this, we will also explain  the consequences if the asb were to continue.

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What happens if I am evicted because of anti-social behaviour?

An eviction for anti-social behaviour is very serious; you may potentially be making yourself intentionally homeless and therefore you may not be re-housed by your Local Authority. If you are aware that this type of action is being taken against you, you need to contact the Housing Advice Team at your Local Authority immediately for further advice.

If a tenants who has been evicted due to a breach of tenancy , including anti social behaviour, applies for rehousing through the Monmouthshire Common Housing Register their application will be referred to the Homesearch exclusions panel.  

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I have been asked to have mediation with my neighbour, why should I do this?

Mediation is a way to resolve disputes between neighbours, particularly when there are underlying issues as a result of a difference in lifestyle or fall out between neighbours.
Trained mediators can enable people to resolve their differences themselves. They are independent, impartial, confidential and non-judgmental.
If you have been asked to go to mediation, we ask that you consider it. It is often a quick and effective way to resolve the anti-social behaviour you are experiencing and will also allow the person causing the behaviour to understand the effect it is having on you.

We will only offer mediation where it is appropriate to do so and will not normally offer to use mediation where there is violence involved.

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What enforcement  action can Monmouthshire Housing Association take to deal with ASB?

We aim to deal with most complaints of anti social behaviour by acting quickly and using non legal measures to address the problem. This includes making referrals to support agencies for both complainants and those responsible for causing the ASB.   If a person continues to cause ASB and either refuse support or they have support in place but their behaviour does not improve, we will take appropriate enforcement action which will be appropriate and proportionate to the case. Enforcement actions can be any of the following,    

  • Anti Social Behaviour Injunctions. These can include excluding a person from a particular area and in serious cases can have the power of arrest attached to them by the court.
  • Demotion Order (of MHA tenancy)
  • Notice served to end a Starter (MHA) Tenancy
  • Possession Proceedings (of MHA tenancy)
  • Anti Social Behaviour Orders

Monmouthshire Housing Association attends regular meetings with the police where information is exchanged relating to anti social behaviour.   There are other legal actions that can be taken either by the police or the Local Authority in cases of persistent asb. Some of these actions include.

  • Anti Social Behaviour Orders (including interim orders)
  • Individual Support Orders
  • Criminal Behaviour Order
  • Closure Power
  • Parenting Orders
  • Dispersal Power
  • Public Spaces Protection Order
  • Noise Abatement Notices
  • Community Protection Notice
  • Drug Intervention Orders

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 What is an Injunction and why are they used?

Anti-social behaviour injunctions can be used against both tenants and non-tenants who cause (or threaten to cause)anti social behaviour, nuisance or annoyance to others in the community. An Injunction is a Court Order that requires someone to do something or to stop someone from doing something. An injunction can include an Exclusion Order which means the person subject to the Order would be excluded  from going to a  particular area.  

If the terms of an ASB Injunction is breached the parties involved would have to go back to court with evidence of the breach. The penalty for breach of an ASB Injunction can be a prison sentence. The judge would decide if it is appropriate to impose a prison sentence.

We can apply to the Court for two types of injunction,

  1. Without Notice (Interim Injunction)
    This type of injunction is where we apply to the Court without notice to the person causing the nuisance and ask the Judge to make an order without them knowing about it or being present in Court. These types of injunction are only used in the most serious anti-social behaviour cases and will usually only be applied for where there is evidence to suggest the witnesses would be at risk if the perpetrator was to know about the proceedings before the hearing.The perpetrator will know about the injunction when they are personally served with the Court papers. Following this type of injunction, we will then need to apply to the Court for a full hearing date when the perpetrator would be present to give their side of the story.
     
  2. On Notice Injunction
    This type of injunction is where we notify the perpetrator of our intention to apply to the Court for an injunction against them. They will be given notice of the hearing and will be able to attend Court to defend the application.

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 What is an Acceptable Behaviour Contract? (ABC)

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC's) are used to stop people from causing anti-social behaviour.
It is a voluntary contract, agreed with the perpetrator which sets out the standards of future behaviour and is often used in conjunction with other types of support to help the person change their behaviour. An ABC can last for up to six months and is closely monitored throughout this time.

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What is a Section 21 Notice? (starter tenancy)

A Section 21 Notice can be served on a tenant in the first 12 months of their tenancy. It is the first stage of legal action which may result in the tenant losing their home. These can be served on tenants if anyone living in, or visiting their home has been the cause of repeated and/or serious ASB or other breaches of tenancy. Anyone served this type of Notice has the right to an Appeal Hearing, and further advice regarding this is given when the Notice is served.  

When a section 21 Notice has been served MHA can later apply to court for Possession of the property and the court must award a possession order. Those tenants subject to a Starter Tenancy can have the starter period of 12 months extended for a further 6 months if anti social behaviour or breaches of tenancy occur during the initial period. In these cases a Section 21 Notice can be served within the 18 month period. A section 21 Notice cannot be served after this as the Starter tenancy will have become an Assured tenancy.

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W.hat is a Notice Of Seeking Possession? (Assured Tenancy)

A Notice Of Seeking Possession can be served on tenants with an Assured Tenancy if anyone living in, or visiting their home has been the cause of repeated and/or serious ASB or other breaches of tenancy.  It is the first stage of legal action which may result in the tenant losing their home. This type of Notice stays in place for 12 months, and if during that time, there is further ASB or other breaches of Tenancy, MHA may apply to Court for a hearing to request Possession of the property. At the hearing, the judge will hear the evidence from all parties and will decide the outcome.

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What is a Demotion Order?

Monmouthshire Housing Association can apply to the court to have a tenant’s Assured Tenancy demoted. This must be on the grounds of anti social behaviour or other breach of tenancy. If the court awards a Demotion Order relating to a tenancy the tenant will have reduced rights for a 12 month period. Also, during the 12 month period of the demotion if further serious anti social behaviour or breach of tenancy occurs a Section 21 Notice can be served with a view to ending the tenancy. MHA will usually follow the Section 21 Notice  with an application to the court for Possession of the property and the court must then award a Possession Order. Unlike with a starter tenancy, the 12 month period of the demoted tenancy cannot be extended.

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What is a Possession order?

 MHA tenancy agreements contain clauses relating to tenant’s responsibilities including stating they must not cause neighbour nuisance or anti social behaviour. A Possession Order can be awarded by the court if action is taken by MHA because of breaches in the tenancy, this can include anti social behaviour. Possession of a property is an action intending to end the tenancy and if a Possession order is granted by the court MHA will usually then proceed to apply for an Eviction.   

Applying to the court for a Possession Order and an Eviction is a last resort and unless the behaviour has been extreme, we will try other actions to stop the anti social behaviour first. When considering if it is appropriate to apply for a Possession Order MHA must decide if this is reasonable and proportionate to the level and seriousness of the anti social behaviour. 

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I suspect a neighbour is growing Cannabis, what do I look out for?

In addition to an increase in fortification of the premises, some of the signs to look out for are as follows :

  • Powerful lights left on in any rooms, growers often use 600 watt lights to speed up the growth of cannabis.
  • Evidence of tampering with the electrical supply.
  • Windows blacked out by bin bags or other dark material – often disguised with the use of net curtains.
  • Large ducting tubes similar to those used on tumble driers, but larger and silver in colour. These are often placed through windows to assist sufficient heat exchange.
  • Bin bags full of vegetable material being thrown away. The stalks and roots of cannabis plants are discarded when the plants are cropped. Plant pot shaped root balls may be dumped in the garden.

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