In this article:
This article is provided as a guide. The Tenants’ Voice is NOT a legal advice specialist site and our content authors are NOT housing law specialists.
The Tenants’ Voice advises that Tenants act courteously and reasonably in all communications and dealings with regard to a tenancy but if you suspect you are experiencing an infringement of your rights that you seek advice and support from a regulated professional. The Tenants’ Voice recommends Shelter https://www.shelter.org.uk/ 0808 800 4444
In this article
- The definition of anti-social behaviour
- Who you can complain to about you neighbour’s anti-social behaviour
- What measures can be enforced to stop anti-social behaviour
If you are living in a rented flat in an apartment block or converted house or living in a rented terraced house you may experience anti-social behaviour from neighbours causing you alarm, harassment or distress.
If this is the case and the behaviour is persistent, then you have every right to complain. TTV would emphasise that the key word is persistent because only then will the action of the neighbour be seen as anti-social.
Any behaviour that is really a relatively small and insignificant disturbance or disruption that may have been a one-off would not constitute anti-social behaviour.
Types of anti-social behaviour
- Intimidation through threats or actual violence
- Harassment, including racial/sexual harassment
- Verbal abuse
- Homophobic behaviour
- Abusive behaviour
- Dumping rubbish
- Animal nuisance, including dog fouling
- Vandalism, property damage and graffiti
Depending on the severity of the anti-social behaviour your neighbour is engaged in, you can complain to your landlord, the local authority or the police.
Complaining to your landlord
It is possible your landlord has a policy and procedure for making a complaint against anti-social behaviour when neighbours are concerned, although TTV wants you to be aware that landlords do not have to follow up a complaint or do anything about it.
A landlord can:
- Go to the police or local authority and ask for action to be taken
- Seek eviction of the neighbour via the eviction process
Even if you are renting privately, you can still complain to local authority/housing association landlords and they will be obliged to follow it up. They can then:
- Apply through the courts for an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO); to stop gang violence or to protect someone from gang violence; to stop someone causing a public nuisance (such as drug-dealing)
- Apply for a court order to close premises guilty of anti-social disturbances
- Take action to stop noise, nuisance and threats to health
- Evict the person responsible for the behaviour if they are a local authority tenant
- Offer the victim alternative accommodation
- Prosecute where the behaviour is a criminal offence
- In England and Wales local councils can take over management of a property where serious anti-social behaviour problems occur
- Re-house the person acting anti-socially
- Apply for a court order to suspend a tenant’s right to buy
A local authority in England can also change someone’s tenancy to a ‘family intervention tenancy’. The tenant and their family must then seek professional help and support in an effort to change their behaviour. If there is no change or they don’t use the support, they can be evicted.
It is also possible that the person you are complaining about is subject to certain tenancy terms and conditions which are supposed to stop them from engaging in anti-social behaviour such as harassment, noise pollution or drug dealing. If any of these conditions are breached, the person could end up in prison or be evicted.
Complaining to the police
The police have wide powers especially if the anti-social behaviour is a criminal offence; they can make arrests and seek prosecution. The police can be called if a neighbour has:
- Attacked another person, causing physical and/or psychological damage
- Wilfully caused damage to someone else’s property
- Behaved in a threatening or abusive way so as to intentionally intimidate or frighten or cause harassment, alarm or distress
- Incited racial hatred or violence
The police can also:
- Issue on the spot fines (penalty notices) for some types of anti-social behaviour
- Apply to court for an anti-social behaviour order or an order to stop gang violence or protect someone against gang violence
- Close down properties which are causing disruption
Where to go for further help and advice
In England, you can find more information about anti-social behaviour on the GOV.UK website
In Wales, you can ring 0845 010 3300 for more information about anti-social behaviour
Citizens Advice also offer good help on this issue and TTV recommends you contact them for more information.
TTV wants you to know that the police must take very seriously complaints about anti-social behaviour which is discriminating against you. However, sometimes the police may be guilty themselves of not taking a complaint seriously enough.
Also if you think the police are discriminating against you, you may want to make a complaint about the police which you have the right to do.
- Persistent anti-social neighbour behaviour can make life very unpleasant – but there is no reason why you should stand for it and therefore you have every right to complain
- You can complain about anti-social behaviour to your landlord, the local authority (even if you rent privately) and the police
- Your landlord has limited powers but they should support you and help solve the problem; if your landlord decides not to do anything then you should pursue the matter by contacting the local authority and/or police
- Anti-social behaviour can be tackled and there are various means available for the local authority and police to stop it