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Stopping anti-social behaviour in privately rented accommodation
People should always feel safe and secure in their own home. Anti-social behaviour affects the quality of life of one person or an entire community. Find out what anti-social behaviour is, how it can be prevented, what you can do and who can help you tackle it.
What is anti-social behaviour?
Anti-social behaviour can be a wide range of problems causing someone or many people to feel unsafe and upset. These include:
- nuisance neighbours
- aggressive behaviour
- harassment or intimidation
- begging and anti-social drinking
- vandalism, graffiti or damage
- selling drugs
People may feel unsafe as a result of a one-off incident, though often it is a number of anti-social behaviour incidents over time that affects quality of life.
Who can help with anti-social behaviour?
Whether a landlord or a tenant, you can get help with anti-social behaviour from the following agencies:
- the police
- local authorities, like councils
- social landlords
- housing associations
You should contact the police right away for anti-social behaviour that involves serious criminal activity or other serious incidents - for example, where there are threats or violence, drug activities or hate crime.
You can also contact your neighbourhood policing team which specifically focuses on local problems like anti-social behaviour. Neighbourhood policing teams walk community streets and hold regular anti-social behaviour meetings.
You should consider contacting your local authority to ask if they will deal with a particular problem of anti-social behaviour. Local authorities have many powers to tackle anti-social behaviour and have teams who deal with the following problems:
- abandoned vehicles
- damage to public property
They also have local anti-social behaviour co-ordinators, who specifically deal with anti-social behaviour problem areas.
What you can do about anti-social behaviour if you are a tenant
If you are experiencing anti-social behaviour from a neighbour, you may not need to go to court or contact your landlord to prevent it. Your neighbour may not even realise that they are causing a nuisance. If you feel comfortable doing so, you might want to tell them either in person or in a letter.
If the anti-social behaviour continues, you should ask your landlord to do something about it. If they won't help, you can ask your local council to give your landlord an anti-social behaviour notice (ABN). This is an official document telling your landlord to do something about the behaviour that is causing a problem.
If your landlord does not take any action
If your landlord doesn't take action, your local council can make a special interim management order. This is used to stop individual cases of anti-social behaviour happening in or around a house. The landlord still owns the property, but the local authority takes over the management of it to tackle the anti-social behaviour.
If a number of houses in an area are causing anti-social behaviour, the local council can create a 'selective licensing scheme'. This means all landlords of properties in that area must have a licence to show they are meeting certain minimum standards.
Contacting council and housing association landlords
If the person causing the anti-social behaviour has a local authority or housing association landlord, you should contact them. Often they will use an acceptable behaviour contract (ABC) to try to fix the problem. This is an agreement with the person causing the problem that further action will be taken if they continue.
If the ABC is ignored, or the anti-social behaviour is serious, the social landlord can use a court order to stop the behaviour or remove the tenant causing the problems from the property.
What you should do about anti-social behaviour if you are a landlord
You have a responsibility to deal with any tenants who have become a nuisance to neighbours and nearby households.
You should talk to your tenant to try to resolve any anti-social behaviour problems that have been reported. You can get support from your local authority and police, and work closely with them.
If problems with your tenant still continue, you can apply to a court to force them to leave. However, it is a criminal offence for you to evict a tenant without a document from the court.
You should try to avoid renting to tenants with previous anti-social behaviour history as they may be likely to cause future problems.
What if you do not deal with an anti-social tenant?
If you do not deal with an anti-social tenant, your local authority can take action against you.
If you let a single property, they can:
- make a special interim management order and take over management of it to stop the anti-social behaviour
- choose the area for selective licensing - if there is widespread anti-social behaviour in that area
These methods help local authorities guarantee that landlords or the people managing the properties are fit and proper to manage them.
If you refuse to take appropriate action to deal with an anti-social tenant, the local authority can take enforcement measures. The steps that it takes will depend on the scale of the problem.
If you are a social landlord, you should have a complaints procedure for people to use if they are not satisfied with how you have dealt with anti-social behaviour. You should provide details of how to use the procedure if you are asked.
If you do not resolve the problem within a reasonable time then the complainant can contact the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS) for help. The HOS is a free, independent service that looks to see whether you have done something wrong or failed to do something when dealing with a person's complaint.