Tag Archives: dispute

Dispute Despair

Absolutely nothing was done.  It all still continues.  We are either ignored or treated as perpetrators.’  ‘Jack’, London

This is Jack’s side of the story:

No action has ever been taken against my neighbours who continues a 2 year campaign of every instance of ASB imaginable against both my household and another tenant in the property of 3 flats.  We have both continually provided evidence of this woman’s ASB but are both continually ignored by our Housing Association and the police.  In fact, the Housing Association gives this woman their full support by believing without question or investigation of any kind every lie and false allegation she continually makes about my neighbour and I.

Jack has been threatened with an Injunction for something he didn’t do which he said was without any investigation and purely based on the other party’s complaint.

The list of behaviour Jack has suffered is long and horrible:

  • racial abuse
  • damage to their car
  • brick through their window
  • dog poisoned
  • hundreds of live maggots thrown onto their steps and flat door area several nights in a row
  • verbal abuse
  • accusations of drug dealing
  • stealing their post
  • filming them 24/7
  • taking photos of them

Jack has been told that the Housing Association is aware of the neighbour’s behaviour, attributable to mental health.  However, it doesn’t make sense as why they would threaten Jack with an injunction.

Neighbour Dispute

To ASB practitioners, this may sound all too familiar.  The complexities of a neighbour dispute – who to believe and who is doing what.  How can someone contacting us as a victim be seen by the Housing Association as a perpetrator?  Hear Jack’s cry:

Yesterday my neighbour and I received a letter from the Housing Association warning us of OUR ASB and highlighting how WE could be breaching our tenancy agreements  This letter has been generated by more lies from this woman and yet again, without question or any investigation have been believed and taken as truth by the Housing Association.  Where is the help for people like us who have someone like this woman using and totally abusing the system to wreak havoc, cause misery and distress and invoke fear into innocent people?

What is really going on?

Our Comments

When we hear a story like this our initial reaction is deep concern at the way Jack is being treated.  Yet, we are also well aware that there are always two sides to the story.

The agencies acknowledge that there are complications in acting due to mental health.  Yet they then give warnings of injunctions without investigation to Jack. This seems incompletely inconsistent.  This is clearly some missing information on what is happening but there are some important factors to highlight from this story.

  1.  We would recommend to Jack that he activate the Community Trigger.  This would mean that all agencies, including the Housing Association, the local Council and the police, can come together to review Jack’s case.  Jack should request a clear response from that review of where mistakes have been made (perhaps insufficient investigation, lack of mental health support) and what else can be done to resolve the problems.  (Activating the Community Trigger can sometime give the support you need to get a house move as part of resolving the problem.)

2.  This case is a classic example of a Neighbour Dispute and ultimately it has been left to deteriorate into a tangled mess.  This is why it is so important for agencies to take early action and investigate early complaints – see this Housing Association example: http://asbhelp.co.uk/can-read-write/.  We wonder whether mediation was ever offered and how responsive the Housing Association really was when Jack first expressed his concern.

 

 

Is Mediation Right for You?

One area of dealing with ASB that we haven’t covered much is that of Mediation.  This is where someone independent of both you and the person who you feel is being anti-social towards you comes to listen to both of you and seek to resolve the problem.

In anti-social behaviour, there are many clear-cut cases where there is a victim or victims and a perpetrator or perpetrators.  Someone chooses to behave in an inconsiderate way and their neighbours suffer from this behaviour, try and tolerate it and eventually report it.  The perpetrator does not care about the effects of their behaviour on others.  In a situation like this mediation would be difficult.

However, there are also many cases where the picture is less black and white.  This is perhaps more common now as we so often do not know our neighbours.  As such we do not know what their lifestyle is like, what is important to them and what causes them stress.

Mediation is an effective way to stop anti-social behaviour before it gets worse, hopefully before it starts to impact on your health.

UK Mediation has this to say about Neighbourhood Mediation:

Neighbourhood Mediation – keeping you and your neighbours on good terms

Your home is your castle. You don’t want anyone intruding into your personal space, disturbing your peace and relaxation, or preventing you from enjoying the time you spend at home or with your family.  

Most of us have neighbours, and we can get on with them most of the time. And when there are any difficulties or disagreements, most of the time we can all sort things out with a chat over the fence. Sometimes, however, communication breaks down. There are disagreements or persistent complaints which, if left unaddressed, can turn into more significant problems. 

Mediation is a quick, cost effective and private method of resolving your dispute, saving you from the stresses and costs of court of formal action. An expert mediator can get you and your neighbours talking again: clearing up misunderstandings, agreeing practical steps for how to make things better between you, and moving on from your disagreements. 

Mediation – How it Works

Mediators help people in a situation find a solution that is acceptable to all parties.  They visit everyone concerned, listen to what the problem is and what they want to see change.  They will then arrange a neutral venue for a confidential joint meeting. At that meeting ground rules are agreed, such as not interrupting and using respectful language, and then each person has the opportunity to explain the problem as they see it.

Mediators listen to all sides and then work with them to identify the issues that need to be addressed and how they are going to do that.  The mediator will not solve the problem for them, but help the people involved come to an agreement on what needs to be done going forwards to resolve the issues.  Mediators are independent and do not take sides.

Mediation – Pros and Cons

Mediation requires time and effort to make it work.  However, so does taking someone to court – a LOT more time and effort.  Even in court, if a case got that far, magistrates would want to see that all other ways to resolve the problem have been considered and mediation may be recommended anyway.  Agreeing to mediation shows you are willing to try to understand the other person’s perspective and find a compromise.

Some people who suffer ASB simply want the perpetrator to be evicted from their home.  As a charity seeking to be a voice for victims of ASB, our focus is strongly on the aim being to STOP the anti-social behaviour, not make someone homeless.  Mediation can be very effective to stop the behaviour that is causing you distress and restore neighbourhood relationships.

The disadvantage of most mediation in the UK is that it has a cost.  Some areas provide a free service but not everywhere.  You may also be able to convince your local authority to pay for the mediation – it will still cost them less than taking court action.

There is no overall organisation to represent all mediators in the country.  The College of Mediators is a membership-based organisation where you can find local mediators, but only those that have chosen to become a member will be registered.  Your best source of information is your local authority which should have information about local mediation services in the area.  You can also arrange informal mediation with someone independent in the community coming to listen to both parties – perhaps a Neighbourhood Watch member or the local vicar.

Unfortunately mediation will only work if both parties involved agree to it.  If you want to try mediation but the person whose behaviour is causing you alarm or distress does not want to try mediation, you are stuck and will have to rely on local agencies taking necessary action.

For a case study on where we would recommend mediation, see here: Let’s Talk.

 

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.