Council housing handbook
Chapter 8: Your behaviour
In this section:
You are responsible not only for your behaviour while at home and on the estate you live in, but also for the behaviour of everyone who lives with or visits you.
If you are a joint tenant, you are responsible for the actions of the other joint tenant.
Nuisance or anti-social behaviour
Problems caused by nuisance or disagreements with neighbours are often referred to as anti-social behaviour (ASB).
You must make sure that you do not cause a nuisance to others, and we also rely on you to report any ASB to us, or the police.
Disagreements with neighbours range from annoying incidents such as playing music too loudly, to serious incidents such as drug dealing, harassment and threats of violence.
Disagreements can arise from:
- too much noise
- untidy gardens
- businesses being run from home
- pets, particularly dogs
- boundary fences
- verbal or electronic abuse
Helping you to resolve things
Whenever possible, you should try to solve the problem yourself. We can advise you how to do this. Often, the best way of solving a problem is for neighbours to talk to each other and try to see each other’s point of view.
Gently explaining that the behaviour is upsetting the peace and lifestyle of neighbours can be enough.
When you speak to your neighbour, tell them why their behaviour is causing a problem to you.
Remember to stay calm and not to get involved in an argument!
If your neighbour continues to be unreasonable while you are talking, walk away.
If things do not improve, you can:
- get advice from your Neighbourhood Housing Officer
- talk to the police
- contact Wiltshire Law Centre
- contact Citizens Advice Swindon
Hate incidents, harassment and victimisation
Harassment is unwanted conduct on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, and disability, which has the purpose or effect of either violating a person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
We will not accept any kind of harassment (including verbal abuse or threats of violence and other acts of intimidation), particularly harassment because of a person’s race, colour, religion, sex, sexuality, gender reassignment, disability or age.
What to do if you are being harassed
If you, or a member of your family, are being harassed, you should notify the police immediately as harassment is often a crime. They can make enquiries quickly and possibly take steps to prosecute the harasser. You should also contact your Neighbourhood crime reference number if appropriate. We have procedures to help victims and to take action against those who harass.
Agencies such as the police, our anti-social behaviour unit and our housing team will work together to try to prevent another indcident. Where the person or people responsible have been identified, we will take appropriate action against them. Your Neighbourhood Housing Officer can also arrange for any damage caused by the harasser to be repaired urgently. If there is offensive graffiti on your property, we will remove this it 24 hours.
Legal action that can be taken against harassers
We can take action by applying to the courts for:
- an injunction
- a possession order to evict the harasser (if they are a council tenant)
Whether or not the judge grants an injunction or possession order depends on the quality and quantity of evidence we provide.
An injunction can prevent the harasser from being in a particular property or area or threatening an individual(s).
If the harasser does not keep to the conditions of the injunction, they can be arrested and then fined or sent to prison.
You can also get your own anti-harassment injunction in the civil court.
Domestic abuse is any violent or abusive behaviour used by one person to dominate and control another within a close personal or family relationship.
It can happen to anyone of either gender, in all kinds of relationships – heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. People experience domestic violence regardless of their social group, age, class, lifestyle, disability or sexuality. It can begin at any time – in a new relationship or after many years together.
It can manifest itself in many ways. It can be:
- physical: beating, punching, kicking, slapping, biting or sexual assault
- emotional: bullying, isolating from family and friends, undermining self-confidence
- verbal: put downs, name calling, shouting
- threatening: threats to kill or harm you or another person, including children; to kill or harm pets; threats to kill themselves
- financial: control over money; not allowing money for personal items, food
If you and your family are in immediate danger, you can phone the police on 999 and they will always respond. The non-emergency number for the police is 101.
Wiltshire Constabulary Domestic Abuse Unit can advise you if you need to take any action that involves the police and courts. You can ring them tel: 01793 507801. In certain cases where the police believe the victim is at risk, they may issue the suspect with a Domestic Violence Protection Notice which will ban an individual from returning to the victims address for 48 hours pending Magistrates issuing a longer term order for between 14 and 28 days.
Your Neighbourhood Housing Officer can give advice or direct you to other agencies and services that can assist you.
Our homelessness team can also give you housing advice. If necessary, they may be able to find alternative accommodation for you (and your children, if you have them). You can contact them on 01793 445503. In an emergency outside office hours, you can call 01793 466451.
You can also get advice from a solicitor on getting non-molestation orders or occupation orders. These are legal orders the court will grant which prevent your partner attacking you and prevent them from coming within a certain distance of your home. They usually come with the power to arrest your partner if they break the conditions made by the court. If you want legal advice, you can get a list of solicitors who specialise in family law from the Swindon Community Safety Partnership (telephone number 01793 466506).
If you and your partner are joint names on the tenancy or it is in your partner’s name, the tenancy can only be placed in your name by either your partner voluntarily agreeing to pass it to you (subject to the councils agreement) or taking legal action.
It is also possible that, in certain cases, Housing Services can take action against the person who has been violent to you. You can discuss this further with your Neighbourhood Housing Officer.
If you want independent support and advice on domestic abuse issues, you can:
- call the Swindon Women’s Refuge 24-hour helpline on 01793 610610
- visit the Swindon Women’s Aid website