Neighbour Problems & Antisocial Behaviour
These cover a broad range of different issues from excessive noise, litter problems, dog fouling etc. to more serious incidents such as threatened or actual violence.
Ideally, neighbours should try to resolve any such problems between themselves without the need for outside assistance. However, in practice, disputes can progress beyond a point where there is a realistic prospect of both parties coming to a mutually acceptable agreement.
The following information is intended to provide general advice which will differ depending on whether you and your neighbour are council tenants, housing association tenants, private tenants or owner-occupiers.
- Angus Council Community Safety and Antisocial Behaviour Strategy 2009-2012 (900 KB PDF)
- Angus Council Antisocial Behaviour Policy (200 KB PDF)
Frequently Asked Questions
What initial action can I take?
It is important to appreciate that not all behaviour, although annoying to neighbours, is unreasonable e.g. children playing, normal levels of day-to-day noise. However, if you feel that you have justified grounds for complaint it is worthwhile making a direct approach to your neighbour. They may be unaware that their behaviour has been causing a problem and be prepared to take immediate action to remedy the situation.
There are some points that you should remember before making a direct approach to your neighbour:
- Think about what you want to say before you approach your neighbour and what outcome you want to achieve.
- Try to stay calm and don't shout even if the other person shouts at you.
- Explain clearly what the problem is and how it is affecting you.
- Don't interrupt the other person when they are talking. Listen to what they have to say.
- Don't argue over what has already happened. Try to concentrate on how to improve matters in the future.
- Be prepared to compromise. After discussion with your neighbour it may be that an agreed compromise is the best solution.
- If your neighbour becomes unreasonable you should leave immediately and if you are threatened, or feel threatened, you should contact the Police.
What further action can be taken if the problem still persists?
If there is no improvement or it was not appropriate to make a direct approach to your neighbour, you should, if you are a tenant, contact your landlord.
If you are an Angus Council tenant, or the household causing the problems are council tenants, you should contact your local ACCESS Office to report the matter. If you telephone, call in to the office in person, or write, an officer will discuss with you, the problem you are encountering and provide advice and guidance on finding a way forward. This discussion will be in confidence, and they will not disclose your details to your neighbour, without your permission.
Owner-occupiers should seek Legal Advice on the action that is available to them. You can also contact the Angus Council Community Safety Team Antisocial Behaviour Unit, who will be able to provide advice and guidance on finding a way forward.
What incident details are required to allow action to be taken?
It is important to remember that, if court action is ultimately required, the prospects of success will depend significantly on the evidence presented and it is therefore very important that details of incidents are kept from an early stage. You should record dates and times of incidents as well as the nature of the incident and how it affected you.
The officer investigating your case will provide you with incident sheets for this purpose.
What will happen to my neighbour once I have made a complaint?
It will depend upon how serious the complaint is, whether there have been any previous and/or recent incidents, whether there are any other witnesses to the incidents, whether the agency/department can deal with the problem or whether you wish any further action.
Providing the complaint has not been made maliciously, and there are sufficient grounds to support the complaint, your neighbour will be interviewed, and one of the following actions carried out:-
These are normally provided as an early intervention method, to get your neighbour to correct the problem, which is the subject of your complaint. Frequently this is all that is required to resolve the matter.
In certain situations, and where both parties agree to participate, Angus Council, your Solicitor, your Landlord, the Police or other Advice Agency may offer to refer the case for mediation. This is a process where an independent third party, attempts to resolve the problem between the parties involved, in a manner which is acceptable to both.
If you are interested in this option, you should highlight this to any of the above when discussing your complaint. Neighbour disputes are frequently successfully resolved by this method.
Acceptable Behaviour Agreement
Where written warnings or mediation have proved to be unsuccessful, Angus Council or Police Scotland may request your neighbour to undertake a voluntary signed agreement to correct the problems which are the subject of your complaints.
This agreement will also outline what further action will be considered should your neighbour fail to adhere to the conditions contained in the agreement. This has proven to be a very successful method in resolving problem behaviour without resorting to Legal Action.
Whilst every effort will be made to find a solution to the problem without the need to commence Legal Proceedings, there are occasions when it will be required. Any application must be supported by sufficient independent evidence to persuade a sheriff that the case has been proved and that it is necessary to grant the application.
Where court action is required the following options will be considered, to ascertain the most effective to deal with the problem:-
An application for an Order can be made to a Sheriff Court, to stop your neighbour, other persons residing in the house or visitors to the house engaging in persistent or serious anti-social behaviour that is causing you or members of your household alarm or distress.
In Angus, an order can be obtained against any individual by the council or in certain circumstances a Registered Social Landlord, where it is pertinent to their property.
A person, who is the subject of an Order and fails to adhere to its conditions commits a criminal offence and can be arrested. If convicted they could be liable to a fine and/or imprisonment.Should the person defend this action, there is a likelihood that you will be required to provide evidence in court to substantiate your complaints.
Decree for Eviction:
If your neighbour is an Angus Council tenant and they, a member of their household or visitor to the house, continues to pursue acts of persistent or serious problem behaviour which contravenes their tenancy agreement, the council may, if there is no other alternative, apply to the court for a decree to evict the person or persons from the home.
This action is a last resort and requires strong supporting evidence to be successful. There is a probability that you will be required to provide evidence in court to substantiate your complaints.The same provisions apply if your neighbour is the tenant of a Private or Registered Social Landlord. In the circumstances described, a decree to evict cannot be sought against the Owner Occupier of a property.
What other Legal powers are available?
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 sets out certain statutory nuisances (e.g. premises that are in such a state that they are prejudicial to health; noise that is a nuisance) and gives local authorities enforcement powers to deal with these types of nuisance. Contact the council's ACCESSLine on 08452 777 778 and a member of the Environmental Protection Unit will contact you to offer advice.
Under the Dog Fouling (Scotland) Act 2003 local authorities can issue fixed penalty notices to people who allow their dog to foul in a public space such as footpaths, play areas or any other area maintained by the council. Local authorities also have powers to deal with stray dogs and constant loud barking.
Council tenants require the prior consent of the Housing Department before they are allowed to keep a dog as a pet and permission will be withdrawn if the dog causes a nuisance to neighbours.
Local authorities have powers to deal with people dumping household or other rubbish other than in a bin or at approved sites.
For advice on any of the above please contact the Angus Council ACCESSLine on 08452 777 778.
Some cases of excessive noise, for example, shouting and screaming to the alarm and annoyance of others, can amount to a breach of the peace, which is a criminal offence. If there is sufficient evidence, it may be possible to prosecute the individual.
Police also have the power to deal with excessive noise from premises, in certain circumstances, and have the power to seize the noise-producing equipment. This can include loud noise from domestic premises. For more information please contact your local police station on 101.
The Police might be able to take action under the criminal law where there is sufficient evidence of you being the subject of harassment or threatening behaviour by another person.
The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 sets out restrictions on the ownership of certain dangerous dogs and other types of dog which present a serious danger to the public and also stipulates that dogs must be kept under proper control. If anyone contravenes this Act they are guilty of a criminal offence.
If you have suspicions of anyone being involved in using or supplying illegal drugs you should contact the Police or Crimestoppers (0800 555 111).
The Police can take action if a person's actions or behaviour are likely to cause annoyance, for example a person acting in an indecent manner, dropping litter or a car causing an obstruction.
For advice from Police Scotland, please telephone 101.
Who do I contact for further information?
ACCESSLine on 08452 777 778 or your local ACCESS Office.
Service Page: neighbourdisputes.htm
Service Details Last Reviewed : 23 March 2013