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Noisy neighbours, antisocial behaviour & delapidated property
summary of your rights & options
§ Parties, loud music etc., - local authorities can issue warning notices and fixed penalty fines - contact your local authority's antisocial behaviour team or environmental health department (EHO) (Part 5, Antisocial Behaviour etc., (Scotland) Act 2004 in Scotland; in England & Wales - see the Noise Act 1996 and the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003) if noise over 37dB from 7pm or 31dB from 11pm (40dB is a quiet home, normal conversation is 60dB).
§ Under ASB (Antisocial Behaviour Act) environmental health officers (EHOs) can seize equipment making a noise, if further noise is made after a warning notice has been given. The police also have powers of entry and seizure of noise making equipment.
§ Any person aggrieved by a noise nuisance can serve an abatement notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) giving the person causing the noise 3 days to abate same; the council also has powers to serve abatement notices; and enforcement proceedings can be raised in your local court.
§ Problem of noise could be related to poor or inadequate acoustic deafening between separating floors or walls; not uncommon where re-wiring done in the past for the puggin (ash or limestone chips) to be removed - so could be a structural problem; solution may be to install acoustic deafening material.
Closure notices - use of premises for persistent or serious ASB
§ If senior police officer satisfied premises used for serious and persistent antisocial behaviour the police can serve a 'closure notice' on the premises. Then an offence for anyone other than owner to entry the house. Police then apply to the court for a closure order; if granted no-one can enter the house for up to 3 months and can be extended up to 6 months.
Dispersal of groups, gangs etc.,
§ Senior police officer has reasonable grounds to believe a group of 2 or more people in a locality have caused alarm or distress and engaged in serious ASB. Disperal notice issued for specific period and constable can disperse people for up to 24 hours; arrestable offence for failure to disperse.
ASBO and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs)
§ ASB Act - interim and full Antisocial Behaviour Orders. ASBO targets repeated behaviour likely to cause alarm or distress. Can be made against anyone. A breach of an ASBO is a criminal offence punishable by fine or prison sentence on prosecution. Only the council or housing association can apply for a ASBO. Breach - summary conviction, up to 6 months or a fine, or before a jury up to 5 years and unlimited fine.
§ Local authorities and the police can also use ABC as a form of intervention to try and prevent ASB. The Acceptable Behaviour Contract is a voluntary agreement between a relevant authority and child or adult involved in ASB; failure to adhere to a ABC may lead to an application to the court for an ASBO.
§ Local authorities are obliged to work with the police to have in place local ASB strategies; strategies to ensure there is joint-working between agencies and early intervention.
Behaviour Act 2003 (England & Wales)
Register of Private Landlords; obligation on private landlords
§ ASB Act set up Register of Private Landlords - muts be registered to let property; must be a fit and proper person; and failure to deal with tenants ASB could result in deregulation; statutory offence to let property without being on the register. In England many houses in multiple occupation must be licenced. Complaints to the local authorities private rented department.
Absentee owners & landlords (who 'land bank')
§ Range of powers on Council and Health and Saftey Executive to take action where empty property is in serious disrepair (falling tiles, structural instability, or other hazards).
§ Under the Building Acts and Housing Acts the local authority has a range of powers from requiring the owner to carry out repairs, to the council carry out works itself and billing the owner, to demolishing the property - a demolition order.
§ The Buildings Act 1984 also enables the council to take repair or enforcement action where a building or site is deterimental 'to the amenities of the neighbourhood'. Failure to comply may result in a fine and the council can do the work and recover these costs from the owner.
§ In England, the ASB Act 2003 enables homeowners to complain to their local authority about high hedges. Council can issue a 'remedial notice'.
Tenants & ASB
§ Eviction grounds - tenant, resident or any visitor causing nuisance within vicinity of the tenancy; this may constitute grounds for eviction; an eviction action may be raised by the landlord.
§ Protection from Harassment Act 1997 - an individual can apply to the court for a NHO, and if granted and the opponent breaches the order this is an arrestable offence.
Need more help?
Find a community law centre in your area -
link to the Law Centres Federation (England, Wales & NI).
For Scotland visit here.