Category Archives: January2016

Parking Angst

Vandalism started a year ago after a parking dispute with neighbours who live across the road from me and have several vehicles of their own.” 52 year old woman, living alone.

A 52 year old woman living on her own has told her story of how a parking dispute has escalated out of hand. She has lived in her house for 20 years and over that time has had people parking on the grass verge outside her house. Her technique has been to talk to neighbours who do this or put polite notes under the windscreen asking them not to park on the grass. With this current family, they were parking 2 cars at a time on the grass making a real mess of the verge. When they didn’t respond to her request, she parked her own car in front of her house (rather than on the drive) to prevent them doing so.

Vandalism started a year ago after a parking dispute with neighbours who live across the road from me and have several vehicles of their own.”

Such vandalism has included nails in her tyres and windscreen wipers being pulled off. The worst effect for the victim is that she is now paranoid about what they will do and has had to spend good money further protecting herself – eg. a gate to stop anyone getting round the back as she is concerned for the welfare of her pets, and security lighting.

She is determined not to be bullied but without hard evidence there is little that can be done. This is a difficult situation and shows how a dispute can escalate and take over.

Landlord Responsibility

I found the landlord and went to his house and sent him a letter. He said he doesn’t care.” Ella, Reading

Ella owns her house but next-door is privately rented. The tenants play loud music all night, are intimidating and there is constant drug abuse over the fence. For 3 years Ella has slept in her daughters’ room on Friday and Saturday nights because of the noise.

I found the landlord and went to his house and sent him a letter. He said he doesn’t care.” she says. In spite of keeping a record and diary, contacting the police and the landlord, and being sure not to retaliate, Ella is getting no support. She has 2 school age children, has had to give up work with post traumatic stress disorder, and has finally decided to move.

Our Comments

The police are quick to say that no-one should have to move because of anti-social behaviour. Ella has come to a dead end in reporting ASB because the landlord says he doesn’t care. There are 2 methods that could be used to help this landlord care.

  1. By involving the Local Authority who ultimately have responsibility over the private rented sector. Given that the Council is also the place to go with any noise issues, getting them involved could help pressure the landlord to act. (See here for more information about landlords.)
  2. The Community Trigger is supposed to be tenure neutral and so if you report something to an agency (in this case the police or Council) three times in six months and nothing is being done, you can activate the Community Trigger and insist on a case review. It is highly likely that the landlord will be invited along as part of that review and the agencies may make recommendations to him.

Of course, given Ella plans to move, it is better not to be reporting any of these issues as she would need to declare them as part of the legalities of selling property.

Passing the Buck

For the last two and a half years I have been subject to excessive noise. The Council have told me they cannot help.” ‘Janet’, Cheshire.

Many victims of anti-social behaviour complain about how they are passed from one agency to other. In some areas of the country agencies seem very keen to pass the buck and let someone else deal cheap online pharmacy with the issue. In worst cases, a victim is passed back and forth between two agencies (frequently Council or Housing Association and the Police) with no action being taken by either of them. For this reason we set up our Act Now! Guide to help you go to the right agency for the problem you are experiencing. However, you may need determination and perseverance to get results as ‘Janet’ in Cheshire discovered.

For the last two and a half years I have been subject to excessive noise” she explained. “This has later included intimidating behaviour. I am at the end of my tether and I do not know what else I can do. My health has deteriorated. My self-confidence has been shot to pieces. I do not feel able to open the door unless I know someone is coming. I do not go out into the garden. I keep all my windows and blinds shut constantly.

A noise issue, Janet correctly contacted the Council, even more appropriate because  the perpetrators are also Council tenants. Since first reporting it, she has clearly been given the run around from the Council. They ignored her complaints for over a year until neighbours on the other side also complained. 9 months after that there was a promise of sound-proofing but this is no longer happening and the Council never bothered to inform Janet about this. The last time she called, the ASB Officer was away on 3 weeks annual leave and no one else could help her.

Is it any wonder Janet says “a happy peaceful sanctuary of your own home is no longer possible as no-one cares“? Indeed she now says “the Council have told me they cannot help“.

Our Comments

First of all, the Council cannot possibly be allowed to say they can’t help when they are exactly the agency to deal with their own tenants and noise issues. If the Council is doing nothing, we believe Janet should activate her local Community Trigger and insist on a case review. This would also bring the Police to the table to discuss the situation, especially important given there is intimidation involved too. We cannot let the agencies that are there to protect and assist us be allowed to fob us off, pass the buck, and do nothing. Keep sharing your stories so we can shout louder.

Don’t Bite Back

“Just keep at it and keep reporting it. I don’t bite or get involved. They can shout and threaten me but I don’t react to it, just report it when I get in.” ‘John’, Sheffield

‘John’ bought his first floor flat because it was for over 55s and very quiet. However, the flat below is rented out by a Housing Association to a young girl with partner and child. She has taken over the communal garden as her own and has a number of visitors to the property and with it loud music and loud talking.

John and his partner have had a number of difficult tenants as neighbours in that house, including one who decided to have a cannabis farm and one whose baby was put on the ‘at risk’ register. It would seem the Housing Association is rather inept in their choice of tenants!

They don’t want to move, nor feel they should have to. It was lovely and quiet and the neighbours did look after each other until the problems began. Most of the older people are scared to say anything. He counts to 10 and takes deep breaths to keep calm before he leaves for work and again on his way home. Once home, he doesn’t go out again.

John’s actions and advice to other victims are both excellent:

Just keep at it and keep reporting it. I don’t bite or get involved. They can shout and threaten me but I don’t react to it, just report it when I get in. Depending on how severe it is either the police or the Housing Association.

We would also recommend activating the Community Trigger if the Housing Association refuses to act.

 

Child Protection

Can’t really have visitors as its so invasive. Has impacted my mental health and made me feel unable to enjoy my new home.” ‘Andrew’, Edinburgh

‘Andrew’ and his partner, who own their home, have a Council tenant below them who shouts and verbally abuses her 5 year old every single day. It wakes them up. First they knocked on the door but she denied the noise was her. They then complained to the Council who offered her support but she did not engage with them. They eventually went to the Police when they became very concerned for the child. They are hopeful police involvement will lead to a solution.

Sometimes getting something done about anti-social behaviour is all about getting to the right person within the right agency. This right person will be different depending on the ASB and also can differ from place to place. The child protection angle is important and can help you get results much quicker. As well as calling the Police you can always contact your Council’s Social Services Department or an independent childline number such as the NSPCC https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/report-abuse/ If an agency decides it is no longer just noise nuisance but potential child abuse, their procedures to take action will be different, and probably faster. Note: only consider this route if there is a genuine concern for the welfare of any children involved.

Andrew supplied a concise summary of how anti-social behaviour can affect you. If only all officers working in the field of ASB could truly appreciate how far-reaching those effects are. “Constantly talking about it with my partner. Wearing ear plugs, closing all the doors in the house hoping the noise won’t travel, sleepless nights, inability to work from home, time spent keeping a diary, calling the Council and the police. Can’t really have visitors as it’s so invasive. Has impacted my mental health and made me feel unable to enjoy my new home.

Misinformed

The Council has said they can get audio recording equipment into my flat BUT they would have to ask the perpetrators first for their agreement which I am not comfortable with.” ‘Yvette’, Yorkshire

When ‘Yvette’ moved into her new Council flat, a housing officer told her it should be nice and peaceful (which was what she had requested) because the other residents were all elderly people. When she moved in, she found there were no old people in the flats at all. The Council had completely misinformed her.

Since February 2015 the tenants and friends of tenants in the opposite flat have been knocking on Yvette’s door, rattling it, sometimes banging on it and shouting at her, particularly early morning, evenings, at night and weekends. She also hears separate knocking coming through the walls.

I am tired nearly all the time and I have had to give up my job and go on sick for stress. I have filled in an application form for a housing transfer with the Council but am worried how long it will be before they make me an offer because of how it is affecting my health in the meantime. I am spending money on hostel accommodation to get away from it so not paying my bills as well.

Yvette has filled in diary sheets for the noise nuisance and emails the Council with updates on the situation. “The Council has said they can get audio recording equipment into my flat BUT they would have to ask the perpetrators first for their agreement which I am not comfortable with” she explained.

Our Advice

Yvette has done all the right things. The problem is noise issue and both she and the perpetrators are Council tenants so the Council is the right place to seek help.

We would question the Council’s position on needing to ask permission before installing noise equipment as other Councils have explained how discreetly such equipment can be installed by plain clothes officers to protect the complainant. www.asbhelp.co.uk/tips-getting-evidence

The fact that the Council misinformed her about the other residents is cause for complaint and should be mentioned as part of pushing for a move, and complained about through the Council complaint channels if Yvette feels she has the energy to do that. She could mention the debt being incurred by staying in hotels which has been a knock-on effect of this error by the Council.

We hope a move has now been arranged. If the Council are stalling, Yvette could consider involving the police on the grounds of the verbal abuse she is receiving (harassment and intimidation, not just noise nuisance) or activate the Community Trigger which would lead to a multi-agency review of the whole case which would involve the police too.