Antisocial Behaviour Management Policy
Last published 10 Feb 2023
The purpose of this policy is to outline how the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) manages antisocial behaviour.
This policy applies to all tenancies managed by DCJ, including Aboriginal Housing Office tenancies.
3. Policy statement
Antisocial or illegal behaviour puts the safety of others at risk and impacts negatively on the local community. Antisocial behaviour is a problem that affects and damages communities.
Antisocial behaviour has a strong link to the stigmatisation of people living in public housing. It has a significant impact on the quality of life of vulnerable people through fear of crime and the long term effects of victimisation. It also gives rise to additional costs for a wide range of organisations and individuals including families, schools, NSW Police, non-government organisations, local government, social housing landlords and businesses.
This policy aims to balance the responsibilities of tenants, the rights of their neighbours in social housing, private residents, DCJ staff and associates (which includes consultants and contractors and staff of community housing providers participating in Housing Pathways) and the broader community with the need to support tenants to sustain their public housing tenancies.
Definition of antisocial behaviour
Antisocial behaviour is behaviour which disturbs the peace, comfort or privacy of other tenants or neighbours or the surrounding community or DCJ staff and/or associates which results in a breach of the tenancy agreement under the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
The policy is used to manage:
- all incidents of antisocial behaviour that occurs at a tenant’s residence, neighbouring property or common area, regardless of the date the Residential Tenancy Agreement was signed
- all other incidents of antisocial and/or difficult behaviour towards DCJ staff and/or associates, for tenants who signed their Residential Tenancy Agreement on or after 6 February 2023.
The Client Service Delivery and Appeals policy is used to manage incidents of antisocial and/or difficult behaviour against DCJ staff and/or associates, that does not occur at a tenant’s residence, neighbouring property or common area, by:
- tenants who signed their Residential Tenancy Agreement before 6 February 2023
- all other clients such as household members, applicants and members of the public.
Categories of antisocial behaviour
DCJ will not intervene in a neighbourhood dispute or investigate allegations unless there is an alleged breach of the tenancy agreement.
DCJ will encourage tenants to resolve neighbourhood problems themselves, or with the assistance of mediation services. DCJ will refer tenants to Community Justice Centres for assistance when appropriate and where the parties agree to attend.
Types of antisocial behaviour that DCJ manages may include criminal and illegal activities, physical violence, harassment, and other inappropriate actions by tenants, other household occupants and visitors that cause deliberate or reckless damage to a DCJ property or place the safety of others at risk.
Action may be taken against the tenant for any substantiated antisocial behaviour caused by them, any household occupants or other visitors.
It is not the role of DCJ to carry out criminal investigations. Such investigations are the responsibility of the NSW Police.
DCJ defines antisocial behaviour in the following three categories:
- Severe illegal behaviour is behaviour which poses a risk to the safety or security of residents, property or DCJ staff and/or associates and may result in criminal charges and/or conviction; or significant damage to a DCJ property.
Examples of severe illegal behaviour may include but are not limited to:
- committing injury towards a neighbour, visitor or DCJ staff and/or associates which constitutes grievous bodily harm
- severe physical assault or acts of violence against other tenants, neighbours or DCJ staff and/or associates where there is no grievous bodily harm
- the use of the premises for the manufacture, sale, cultivation or supply of any prohibited drug;
- the use of the premises for storing unlicensed firearms;
- the use of the premises for a show cause offence within the meaning of the Bail Act 2013;
- intentional or reckless damage to a DCJ managed property making it uninhabitable;
- the use of the premises as an illegal brothel;
- the use of the premises for the production or distribution of child abuse material;
- the use of the premises to facilitate organised car or boat rebirthing;
- Serious antisocial behaviour involves activities that severely disturb neighbours; place the safety or security of a tenant, other household members, neighbours or DCJ staff and/or associates at risk; or cause damage to a DCJ managed property. These behaviours may also be illegal and may include, but are not limited to:
- serious physical assault or acts of violence against other tenants, neighbours or DCJ staff and/or associates where there is no grievous bodily harm
- serious threats, abuse, intimidation or harassment towards neighbours, visitors or DCJ staff and/or associates
- victimisation and intimidation towards neighbours or visitors
- provoking pets to attack neighbours or visitors
- hate and threatening behaviour that targets members of identified groups because of their perceived differences (e.g. race and ethnicity, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, mental health or disability)
- negligent and extensive damage to a DCJ managed property
- serious damage to a DCJ office.
- Minor and moderate antisocial behaviour involves activities which disturb the peace, comfort or privacy of other tenants, neighbours or DCJ staff and/or associates. Such behaviour may include, but is not limited to:
- obscene language towards other tenants, neighbours or DCJ staff and/or associates
- bullying and harassment towards other tenants, neighbours or DCJ staff and/or associates
- noise causing nuisance, for example loud and uncontrolled parties, excessive shouting/screaming or excessive noise from music or television
- environmental and common area issues, for example vandalism, graffiti, abandoning vehicles in the front yard and refusing to remove them, carrying out noisy vehicle repairs in communal areas
- leaving large amounts of rubbish within the home, garden or on communal areas
- behaviour which limits other tenants’ access to communal facilities, such as preventing other tenants from accessing communal gardens or laundry facilities
- damaging any DCJ managed property, including individual tenant’s properties and common areas
- damaging any DCJ office.
How DCJ manages antisocial behaviour
DCJ is committed to sustaining tenancies and will work in partnership with other government and non-government organisations to support tenants.
DCJ will investigate allegations of antisocial behaviour and will facilitate early intervention and referral to support services to minimise the escalation of antisocial behaviour and the need to resolve cases through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).
DCJ aims to support vulnerable tenants and families by addressing antisocial behaviour that places them at risk. DCJ will seek to refer tenants to relevant support services when required. Any reasonable suspicion that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm will be reported to DCJ Community Services.
DCJ staff will exercise discretion and in particular will consider the safety of victims of antisocial behaviour when making decisions on the action to be taken for substantiated incidents.
DCJ will not invoke the antisocial behaviour management policy in cases where the antisocial behaviour is caused by a perpetrator of domestic violence if the victim of the antisocial behaviour is the person responsible for meeting the obligations of the residential tenancy agreement.
When a substantiated breach of the tenancy agreement has occurred and it relates to antisocial behaviour and it is appropriate to take formal action, DCJ may respond as follows:
- DCJ response to Severe Illegal behaviour:
DCJ will generally apply directly to the NCAT to seek termination of the tenancy. However, in recognition of concern expressed during stakeholder consultation about the impact of mental health conditions or domestic and family violence on the behaviour of tenants, the following process will apply:
Commencing 22 February 2016, the Deputy Secretary, Housing, Disability, District Services and Disaster Welfare will review these matters to determine if the decision to bring proceedings to NCAT is appropriate. This review will consider whether there is evidence available of a mental health condition or domestic and family violence and whether other solutions to address the behaviour may be more appropriate. DCJ staff will be required to include this information in their submissions.
- DCJ response to Serious antisocial behaviour:
DCJ will generally issue a Notice of Termination followed by an application to the NCAT to seek termination of the tenancy. In some circumstances DCJ will apply directly to the NCAT to seek termination of the tenancy.
- DCJ response to Minor and Moderate antisocial behaviour:
DCJ will generally follow the strike notice provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 to record strikes against a tenant for breaches of the tenancy agreement. The strike notice process clearly establishes for all tenants what type of behaviour is not acceptable and when they are putting their tenancy at risk. A tenancy will be at risk when a tenant repeatedly breaches the terms of their agreement through antisocial behaviour.
- After DCJ investigates and substantiates a first incident of minor and moderate antisocial behaviour, the tenant will be issued with a warning notice.
- DCJ will issue a strike notice for subsequent substantiated incidents of minor and moderate antisocial behaviour within a 12 month period.
- Where three strikes have been recorded within a 12 month period, DCJ may make an application to the NCAT to seek termination of the tenancy.
4. Legislation and compliance
DCJ manages tenancies in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and the Housing Act 2001.
5. Further Information
Appeals and review of decisions
A tenant can not appeal a warning notice. If a tenant disagrees with the recording of a strike against them, they can discuss their concerns with a Client Service Officer and/or ask for a formal review of the decision. For information on the review process for strike notices and how it works, the tenant can ask the Client Service Officer for a copy of the fact sheet Appeals and reviewing decisions, or read the Client Service Delivery and Appeals policy.
Tenants cannot appeal to DCJ on matters where an application has been made by DCJ to the NCAT. Those matters are managed through the NCAT.