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Antisocial Behaviour Management Policy

1. Background

The purpose of this policy is to outline how the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) manages antisocial behaviour in public housing tenancies.

2. Scope

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 neighbours 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 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 landlords and businesses.

This policy aims to balance the responsibilities of tenants, the rights of their neighbours in social housing, private residents 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 which results in a breach of the tenancy agreement under the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

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 or property 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 or visitor which constitutes 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 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;
    • Physical assault or acts of violence against other tenants, neighbours or DCJ staff where there is no grievous bodily harm.
  • Serious antisocial behaviour involves activities that severely disturb neighbours; place the safety or security of a tenant, other household members, neighbours or DCJ staff at risk; or cause damage to a DCJ property. These behaviours may also be illegal and may include, but are not limited to:
    • Threats, abuse, intimidation or harassment towards neighbours, visitors, DCJ staff or their contractors;
    • 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 property.
  • Minor and moderate antisocial behaviour involves activities which disturb the peace, comfort or privacy of other tenants or neighbours. Such behaviour may include but is not limited to:
    • Obscene language towards neighbours and visitors;
    • Bullying and harassment towards neighbours and visitors;
    • Noise causing nuisance e.g. loud and uncontrolled parties, excessive shouting/screaming or excessive noise from music or television;
    • Environmental and common area issues e.g. 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, and
    • Damaging any DCJ property including individual tenant’s properties and common areas.

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 a breach of the tenancy agreement has occurred. 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. 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, Southern Cluster of Districts 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.
  • Commencing 30 November 2018, tenants who cause minor and moderate antisocial behaviour will be encouraged to take a positive step towards engaging with the support they need to sustain their tenancies.
  • After DCJ investigates and substantiates a first incident of minor and moderate antisocial behaviour, the tenant will be asked to refer themselves to a relevant support service, such as mental health support, domestic and family violence assistance, or drug and alcohol treatment. DCJ will provide the tenant with a referral form and, if needed, assist the tenant to make initial contact with the service.
  • The referral form must be completed by both the tenant (to provide consent for DCJ and the support service to communicate) and the support service. When they return the completed referral form, it demonstrates the tenant has engaged with the support service.
  • If the tenant returns their completed form to DCJ within 14 calendar days, they will be issued a warning. If they do not return the form within 14 calendar days, DCJ will record a strike 1 instead.
  • If there are no services operating in their area or if the tenant is already engaged with a support provider, DCJ will issue the tenant a warning.
  • DCJ will issue a strike notice for subsequent substantiated incidents. 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.

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Last updated: 04 Nov 2019