Disruptive Behaviour Policy

Context

This policy places managing disruptive behaviours within the context of a social housing approach with a principle aim of assisting clients to sustain their tenancies and sustaining communities. It is based on the following premises:

  • All Housing ACT tenants and their neighbours are entitled to quiet enjoyment of their dwellings;
  • Housing ACT intends to provide assistance to tenants and those members of their immediate community affected by such actions; and
  • Housing ACT will coordinate provision of resources in resolving disruptive situations and/or achieving positive behavioural change to assist tenants to sustain their tenancies.

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Definition

Housing ACT defines disruptive behaviours as those that cause nuisance or annoyance to sector/s of the community over a period of time and have an adverse or disturbing effect on that community. Such behaviours range from, but are not limited to criminal activities such as theft or assault, loud and abusive domestic disputes, harassment based on various forms of discrimination: race, gender, age, disability, political affiliation, etc, to uncomfortable levels of noise.

Housing ACT intends to:

  • comply with tenancy legislation incorporating Tenancy Agreements;
  • apply principles of natural justice by supporting all parties impartially;
  • ensure tenants understand their responsibilities under their Tenancy Agreements;
  • respect the rights of all tenants
  • support those making complaints and their families, and
  • ensure the rights of those complained about are upheld;
  • support and assist positive behavioural change; and
  • work towards achieving a decrease in the occurrences of disruptive behaviours.

Housing ACT will actively work with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in situations where there is credible evidence of criminal activities and significant harassment and threatening behaviours.

The AFP’s response to any situation will be limited by operational priorities at that time.

Disruptive behaviours do not include people going about legitimate day-to-day activities such as children playing in the street or people using lawn mowers, motorised equipment or playing music during permissible hours.

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Role

Housing ACT strives to ensure tenants and their neighbours have quiet enjoyment of their dwellings. Housing ACT encourages all parties to resolve issues at neighbourhood level in a positive and appropriate manner. In recognition of the particular role of Housing ACT in the social fabric of the ACT community and its relationship with tenants Housing ACT may take the role of facilitator or referral agency by assisting all parties to access community resources to address the causes and resolve neighbourhood disputes. The ultimate aim of any such intervention is to ensure that tenancies are sustained. Housing ACT will offer assistance impartially with the knowledge that receipt of a complaint indicates that there is a problem but does not prove fault.

Housing ACT also has a role in supporting both parties in a dispute. Housing ACT supports clients by:

  • dealing with their concerns promptly;
  • keeping them informed of developments within the limits of the Privacy Act;
  • referring them to the CSD Complaints Management Unit (CMU) if required;
  • referring them to appropriate support services including mediation;
  • establishing multi agency partnerships/responses if/as required;
  • discussing the possible results of actions such as giving evidence in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) so that complainants can decide on their level of involvement knowing the limited value of anonymous evidence;
  • respecting decisions to retain confidentiality; and
  • exercising a social obligation to report illegal behaviours to the AFP.

Housing ACT acknowledges that in some circumstances facilitation and referral will prove inadequate to deal effectively with a dispute. In these situations Housing ACT may commence the legal process which may ultimately lead to eviction however Housing ACT will continue to work with the client during the legal process. As a final attempt to have the disruptive behaviours stopped, Housing ACT will request the ACAT to instigate a termination and possession order including enforceable conditions based on immediate termination of disruptive behaviours.

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Approach

Housing ACT believes that allegations of disruptive behaviour warrant a prompt, courteous and effective response. Housing ACT’s approach, incorporating the HACS Complaints Handling Process, includes:

* promoting mediation amongst parties to a dispute, where appropriate;

registration of complaints to ensure timely and effective action is taken including recording of all subsequent actions until the matter is resolved;

* continued development of protocols, memoranda of understanding and on-going productive relationships with relevant referral agencies;

  • providing support to those affected by disruptive behaviour coming from a Housing ACT tenancy including:
    • dealing with concerns promptly,
    • reporting illegal behaviours to the AFP,
    • communicating with those involved within the limits of the Privacy Act,
    • providing referrals to dispute resolution services and other support agencies appropriate to their expressed desires (eg: confidentiality, resolution, protection from danger),
    • establishing multi-agency responses if/as required,
    • outlining the limits of anonymous evidence to action/s involving the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal,
    • respecting a tenant’s decision to retain their anonymity,
    • access to interpreters, and
    • regular visits by housing managers, community support workers and/or patrols by the AFP*;
  • providing support for the subject of complaints:
    • assumption of innocence,
    • communicating with those involved within the limits of the Privacy Act,
    • access to counselling services,
    • assistance to resolve disputes,
    • assistance to eliminate disruptive behaviours by referrals to appropriate agencies if/as required,
    • access to telephone and/or face-to-face interpreters, and
    • regular visits/patrols by housing managers, community support workers and/or the AFP*; and
  • providing support for Housing ACT employees including but not limited to:
    • training and development activities,
    • AFP* intervention where required,
    • access to employee assistance provider,
    • OH&S services, and
    • ongoing support from managers.

      * note that the AFP’s ability to respond to any situation depends on resources at the time.

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Conclusion

Housing ACT will strive to ensure tenants and other community members have quiet enjoyment of their properties as outlined in the Standard Residential Tenancy Terms of the Residential Tenancies Act. However, Housing ACT does not provide policing services and is not legally responsible for the behaviours of tenants and residents of and visitors to social housing. Instances of illegal activities and significant harassment should be reported to the AFP and clients may need to consider measures such as Protection Orders. As a social landlord Housing ACT recognises our obligation to assist public and private tenants to resolve disputes to sustain tenancies and communities.

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Further Information

To contact Housing ACT: click here for details

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