Anti-social behaviour and breaches of contract

Speech bubbles with questions and answers

Anti-social behaviour can have a significant and detrimental impact on victims. However, those causing nuisance may be vulnerable, ignorant to the impact they are having on others, or feeling helpless, and in need of advice and support to address their behaviour and actions. This guide addresses common problems reported by tenants and landlords, and provides ways of dealing with them safely, tactfully, and appropriately, to bring about a measured response and a positive resolution. For some topics there are links to separate information pages for your tenants, which contain embedded videos with optional subtitles in a number of languages. These pages can also be downloaded and printed as PDFs to be handed to your tenant if they do not have a computer or smart phone.

Contents

Drugs

Neighbour disputes

Noise complaints

Pets

Denying access to property

Drugs

There have been complaints about the smell of cannabis coming from the property. What should I do?    

  • If you feel safe doing so, it is advisable to complete regular visits so you can try to substantiate the complaint, and indeed this may prevent any repeat behaviour. You could also suggest the complainant keeps diary sheets so you can gather more information. Bare in mind the report could be malicious, particularly if there has been a dispute between the said parties. Guidance on completing diary sheets.
  • Change Grow Live (CGL) provides advice and support to anyone struggling with substance misuse issues in the Reading area, including detox services, health assessments, and peer led activities. Telephone 0118 955 7333. Anyone looking for advice and support can also drop in to their centre at 127 Oxford Road, Reading.
  • If there is clear evidence of drug dealing/the complaints continue, it is advisable to report the matter both to the police and the Anti-social Behaviour Team. The more reports the police receive about this, the better placed they will be to deal with it. You may not see an immediate response in relation to this, as the police collate, assess, and develop intelligence to take appropriate action. Drug investigations can be complex, so please be patient. Depending on the amount of reports regarding drug dealing, you may see an increased presence of officers in the area trying to deter the behaviour.
  • In an emergency (if someone is at risk of serious harm) call 999. Otherwise call 101 or report to the police online.
  • If you are deaf or hard of hearing use TVP’s text phone service 18000. In an emergency text 999 if you’ve registered for with the emergency SMS service.
  • Anti-social Behaviour Team 0118 937 3787

Neighbour disputes

My tenant is shouting abuse at neighbours and threatening them. What can I do to address this?

  • You may ascertain that the matter is an ongoing dispute between your tenant and their neighbour, and there are no identifiable risks to either party. A Good Neighbour Agreement, forming an informal contract between your tenant, their neighbour and yourself, may stop the behaviour causing a nuisance or annoyance, and any resultant tensions or arguing.
  • You may wish to issue a formal warning letter if your tenant breaches the agreement.
  • If there is a risk of harm to a person or their property, the aggrieved party should be encouraged to call the police. You may also wish to make a third party report. In an emergency call 999, otherwise call 101 or report to the Anti-social Behaviour Team.
  • As appropriate, the police can advise on punitive and preventative measures, which may include applying for an Injunction. This may involve the local Anti-Social Behaviour Team too.
  • If the problem/complaints persist, you or the aggrieved can contact the council’s Anti-social Behaviour Team. If is helpful if the aggrieved completes diary sheets. Guidance on completing diary sheets.
    The ASB team will review these. If they agree the matter is one of anti-social behaviour, they can address the problem in a number of different ways:

Acceptable Behaviour Contract

  • An ABC is a voluntary written agreement between the person who is behaviour anti-socially and any other relevant people (for example, the council, or the police). The aim is to help the person anti-socially to recognise how their behaviour is impacting on others, and hopefully stop by adhering to set expectations.

Injunction Order

  • Injunctions can be applied for by a number of authorities including the police, and local authority. It can be granted against a person aged 10 or over if two conditions are met:
    • The court is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the person has engaged or threatens to engage in ASB
    • The court considers it just and convenient to grant the injunction to prevent the person engaging in ASB
  • Positive Requirements can be included in the terms of the injunction, for example attendance drugs rehabilitation course, engaging with MH team.
  • Granted for a specific time, it names someone responsible for supervising compliance, and can include a power of arrest if breached.

Community Protection Notices

  • A Community Protection Notice (CPN) is aimed to prevent unreasonable behaviour that is having a negative impact on the local community’s quality of life.  Any person aged 16 years or over can be issued with a notice, whether it is an individual or a business, and it will require the behaviour to stop and if necessary reasonable steps to be taken to ensure it is not repeated in the future.

Noise complaints

I have received complaints about my tenant disturbing neighbours/other residents with loud music and shouting. What can I do?

  • To be a statutory nuisance, the noise must be more than just annoying or simply audible, and it must be frequent. It must significantly interfere with the enjoyment of another’s own premises, and appear unreasonable to the average person.
  • If you have received a complaint about a tenant, in the first instance talk to them. They may not realise they are causing a disturbance.

Assistance from the Environmental Health Team

  • If the problem persists, the complainant(s) will need to evidence that the problem is repetitious and unreasonable. They are advised to keep diary sheets for two weeks, which enable the council’s Environmental Health team to determine if the noise is indeed a statutory nuisance. Guidance on completing diary sheets.
  • Alternatively they can download the noise app.
  • Once the diary sheets have been submitted and reviewed, if the council believes the tenant is causing a nuisance, they will in the first instance write to the tenant and let them know a complaint has been made. In many cases this will solve the problem.
  • The complainant will be asked to complete diary sheets for a further 2-3 weeks to see if the problem persists.
  • If there is continuing evidence of nuisance the council will either install recording equipment, or arrange to visit and witness the nuisance themselves. If there is clear evidence of persistent nuisance, the council’s Environmental Health Team will issue a Noise Abatement Notice. If this notice is ignored, and the nuisance continues legal action will be taken.

Pets

My tenant has a dog. Neighbours have complained it is constantly barking and disturbing them. Is there anything I can do?

  • The good news that there is a usually a reason why a dog is constantly barking, and it can be remedied. Dogs may bark incessantly because they are lonely or bored. Or they may have an underlying medical problem. The dog may also benefit from some formal training.
  • As in the ‘Noise complaints‘ section above, complainants will need to evidence the noise.
  • If there is continuing evidence of nuisance the council’s Dog Warden will usually visit the dog owner. The warden will spend time with them, assessing the situation and giving advice. They will also check the animal is not being unreasonably neglected or subjected to cruelty.
  • If the owner does not cooperate and the problem persists, the council can issue a Noise Abatement Notice. If this notice is ignored, and the nuisance continues legal will be taken.
  • More information on our noisy dogs page.

My tenant has got a pet which is breach of contract. They are a good tenant, but I feel uneasy about this.

  • There are a number of ways a tenant can demonstrate they are and will be a responsible pet owner:
    • They can produce a pet CV . This would include the contact details of their veterinary practice, proof of microchipping, details of vaccinations, flea and worming treatments, any training courses attended, and someone who can care for their pet in an emergency.
    • They could obtain a reference. If the pet has been part of a renting household before, provide a reference from their previous owner/landlord. You will show it is well behaved and has not previously caused any problems.
    • Arrange to meet the pet. Meeting the animal may put your mind at ease 
    • They could agree to train their pet. The Institute of Modern Dog Trainer’s website provides details of qualified trainers in the local area.  A number of website also offer advice and support to help manage pets’ unwanted behaviours.
    • Your tenant could agree to complete a deep clean at the end of the tenancy.
  • More information on tenants wanting to keep a pet.
  • If you decide you are happy for your tenant to keep a pet, add a clause to their tenancy agreement which contains all the things you have agreed on.
  • If you are adamant you do not want them to keep a pet our tenants wanting to keep a pet page contains suggestions about ways they can still easily interact with pets and other animals on a regular basis. 

Denying access to the property

My tenant is denying me access to the property/they have changed the locks. What can I do?

  • Landlords can enter a property, with the right notice, and with express permission from a tenant, to carry out the following:
    • annual gas safety checks (reasonable notice)
    • Inspections where repairs are needed (24 hours’ written notice)
    • repairs (reasonable notice)
  • A tenant does not have to allow you access for improvements that don’t count as repairs.
  • Reasonable notice may be short notice if the repair work is urgent.
  • A tenant may be breaking their tenancy agreement if they refuse access for any of the above reasons. However, it is clearly in their best interest to cooperate. There may be a number of reasons why they are not allowing access. For example:
    • They may just feel uncomfortable about allowing you into the home, particularly if they won’t be there. You may want to suggest they arrange for a friend, family member or neighbour to be present.
    • If English is not their first language they may not fully understand and appreciate the reason for the visit. Why not download our letter/email template which we have produced in a number of languages. If you are still experiencing problems the council’s Tenancy Relations Officer can facilitate communication with an over the telephone translator.
    • Their contact details may have changed and they may have overlooked the need to update you, so be sure to email and call/text.
    • They may be in hospital or on holiday.
    • They may be reasonably cautious during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • If a tenant has changed the locks it may be a breach of tenancy. However, a tenant has a right to “quiet enjoyment” of their home. If you or tradespeople keep turning up and letting yourselves in unannounced, this may be deemed as harassment, and the tenant may feel sufficiently threatened that they change the locks. Tenants may also have a legitimate reason to change the locks if they there is a security risk, and they cannot reach you.