To report antisocial behaviour, get in touch with us through one of the methods on our contact page or email our antisocial behaviour team at ASB@redkitehousing.org.uk
What is antisocial behaviour, how do I report it and what happens next?
Antisocial behaviour is any activity that impacts on other people in a negative way. Examples include:
- Racial harassment
- Hate-related crime
- Aggressive and threatening behaviour
- Drug/substance misuse and/or dealing
- Intimidation and/or harassment
- Verbal abuse
- Damage or threat of damage to property
- Noise nuisance
- Stalking or unwanted attention
- People congregating in an intimidating way
- Fly-tipping (illegal dumping of rubbish)
- Nuisance caused by pets
- Inconsiderate parking of vehicles
If you are affected by any of these issues in or around your home, do let us know. Depending on the issue, we might give you advice, refer you to another organisation for help, or investigate the issue. Please see below for detailed information on noise complaints, which you might find useful. We aim to respond promptly and effectively to your complaint of ASB and may work with other agencies as well to help deal with the problem.
Most of the ASB that is reported to us is as a result of noise causing a disturbance, particularly noise from neighbours. This can be very upsetting, and can cause annoyance, lack of sleep, stress and generally affect your quality of life.
However, no house or flat is totally soundproof. We all make a degree of noise in and around our homes. Whether we are talking, playing music or listening to the TV, looking after young children, socialising or just going about our everyday life, we make a noise.
Often when people live close together, they may not realise they are disturbing others and may feel their behaviour is reasonable. It may be, for example, that your neighbour has a different type of lifestyle from you, such as if they work shifts or have a large family. It is also the case that some people find it harder to tolerate noise than others and might be extra sensitive, or the noise might transmit to your home because of the way the building is designed rather than because your neighbour is behaving unreasonably.
What should you do if you have a problem with noise?
Noise disputes are often best resolved informally. Legal action is not possible without strong evidence, and might worsen the relationship between you and your neighbour and be stressful. It also takes a very long time. It is very important therefore that you do your best to resolve any problem in a friendly way if this is possible. Thus, as long as it is appropriate and safe to do so, we encourage a ‘self help’ approach to resolve noise nuisance. This means that we would ask you to approach your neighbour directly, either in person or in writing, and explain to your neighbour politely they are disturbing you. People often reduce the noise once they realise it's causing annoyance. However, approach the matter carefully if you think your neighbour might react in a negative way to this. If you would like an example of a letter that you might want to pop through their door, you can find one here.
A great option for neighbour issues: Mediation
An option that we strongly recommend is to consider independent mediation to help the situation. We work in partnership with Bucks Mediation. Mediation is voluntary, and an informal and often successful way of resolving disagreements amongst neighbours. This is achieved through listening, supporting and guiding each of you towards resolving the problem. Mediation is not about deciding who is right or wrong, nor about what should or should not have happened in the past. The focus is to find a way of improving the future. Mediation is a good solution for all types of neighbour issues, not just noise. It won’t cost you anything, and it’s confidential. Let us know if you want to find out more on this or would like us to refer you. Alternatively, you can approach Bucks Mediation directly, their website is www.mediationbucks.org.uk contact no: 01494 520821 (10am - 3pm) or email: www.mediationbucks.org.uk.
What else can you do?
If you feel mediation is not an answer, or perhaps you have discussed your complaint directly with your neighbour but the noise is still a problem for you, you can report your complaint directly to the Environmental Health team at Wycombe District Council. Alternatively, Red Kite may refer your case to them. Under Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Local Authorities have powers to deal with defined statutory noise nuisances. Red Kite work therefore closely with Environmental Health if the noise is related to one of our tenant or leaseholders.
As part of your complaint, you will normally be required to complete an Environmental Health Incident Diary to record the incidents of noise nuisance. It is essential that you provide accurate detailed information. This is an important source of evidence to establish frequency, patterns of behaviour, how serious the noise is and its impact on you. Depending on the issues that you note, Environmental Health will then consider investigating your complaint further, such as installing a noise recorder in your home to gain the evidence needed to take more formal action. They will also write to the person causing the nuisance saying that a complaint has been made, asking them to take any steps that may be necessary to reduce noise, and also wider neighbours may be approached. You should be aware therefore that when investigating the complaint, the person you are complaining may well realise who has raised the issue, even if they are not specifically told who has complained.
What determines whether further steps are taken?
Environmental Health staff will consider whether or not your experience constitutes a statutory noise nuisance. In general terms, this is something that interferes with your enjoyment of your home or is a regular disturbance that is considered unreasonable.
There is no set level at which noise becomes a statutory nuisance and an assessment will take into account a number of factors including the locality, the time of day or night, and the frequency and duration of the noise complained of. As part of the assessment, distinction is required to be made between “normal living noise” and something which prevents the quiet enjoyment of a person’s home.
To take formal action, there needs to be clear and substantiated evidence of a problem. That means, for example, if the noise nuisance is infrequent or there is no independent evidence to demonstrate a serious problem and back up your concerns, then it may not be possible to take further action.
The following are unlikely to be considered a statutory noise nuisance:
- An occasional party
- Neighbours talking or occasionally arguing
- Slamming/shutting of doors
- Washing machine vibrating during the daytime or a vacuum cleaner being used
- Children playing or crying
- Dog barking occasionally
- Lawnmower noise
- People going about their ordinary day to day business
- Occasional DIY at reasonable times
Whilst these types of behaviour can cause disturbance, it may not be considered to be a nuisance as far as the law is concerned. This doesn’t mean that the situation is being ignored, it is just that strong evidence is needed to be able to take further action.
Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 also gives complainants the power to take independent action through the local Magistrates’ Court to deal with noise and nuisances where, for example, Environmental Health considers that the problem is not a statutory nuisance, or Environmental Health cannot obtain enough evidence to serve an Abatement Notice or to prosecute.
If there is a statutory noise nuisance, what happens next?
If Environmental Health is satisfied the noise amounts to a statutory noise nuisance they can serve an Abatement Notice. This is a legal document that requires the person on whom the notice is served to stop nuisance or restrict it (e.g. to certain hours of the day). Breaching an Abatement Notice without reasonable cause is a criminal offence. Any potential breach will need to be investigated and evidence obtained prior to formal action being taken.
What will Red Kite do?
Red Kite may take action due to noise complaints such as alerting the neighbour to concerns about their behaviour and warning them of the possible consequences, and/or recommending or facilitating mediation.
Due to confidentiality and data protection, please be aware that we will not share information and details regarding your neighbour and our interactions with them, even if you are the person complaining about them.
If there are substantiated and serious breaches of tenancy due to noise, such as if Environmental Health has served an Abatement Notice due to statutory noise nuisance or such a Notice is breached, we may take formal tenancy enforcement action against the tenant causing the problem, depending on the circumstances.
When deciding what action is appropriate, we will consider each case on its own merits, including the impact of the noise and whether it is proportionate to take action. The type of formal action we might take could be an injunction or possession proceedings. For a judge to agree to an injunction or to evict someone, the evidence will need to be very strong. Your evidence may be required if legal proceedings are taken, and this would be discussed with you if needed.
If you want to move home and options such a mutual exchange are something you may want to consider, please contact us to discuss further.
Top tips to being a good neighbour
It is important to be aware of the noise levels your household causes and consider the impact it might be having on your neighbours. With this in mind, we have put together some simple, practical solutions to everyday noise at home, which can reduce the disturbance we all might cause to our neighbours:
- Keep the volume down on TVs and music players
- Arrange speakers away from walls and the floor and ensure that you turn the bass down
- Avoid slamming doors; consider fitting soft-closing mechanisms to doors to minimise the noise
- Make your children aware that their noise can disturb others – for example, jumping on the floor if it’s someone else’s ceiling can cause noise problems and disturbance to the downstairs neighbour
- Do the vacuuming at a reasonable time
- Fit thick underlay and carpets as they absorb the sound, as do rugs and curtains
- Wear slippers or soft shoes when you’re inside your home
- Inform your neighbours if you are having a one-off party and give them some idea of when the party will end
- Warn your neighbours before you start any DIY activity and try to carry out the work at a time that will be least disturbing to them. Drilling, hammering and sawing are noisy and their repetitiveness can be as much of a nuisance as the volume
- Make sure noisy household appliances, such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners, are used at reasonable times.
- Ensure noisy appliances are away from partition walls where possible
- Ensure your tumble drier and washing machine are correctly fitted; if you are in an upstairs flat you should consider fitting it with a vibration pad or washer stand
- Don’t shout or use raised voices - your neighbours don’t need to hear you
- Don’t sound car horns or rev engines, especially at night
- Try and be considerate and aware of others at all times
Please don’t abandon unwanted vehicles. To report an abandoned vehicle, please call our Relationships Team on 01494 476100. Please note - if you abandon your vehicle, or park it somewhere without permission, or if we think a vehicle or other object on our land is dangerous or unroadworthy, we will take action. We will give seven days notice (or 24 hours where the vehicle is dangerous) then we will remove and destroy it. You will have to pay all of the costs involved in this.