Crime reporter MIRANDA NEWEY speaks to Bolton at Home staff in the first of a two-part feature on how to deal with nightmare neighbours. This week: anti-social behaviour.
BOLTON at Home bosses are warning tenants they are taking a zero tolerance approach to anti-social behaviour.
Each year the housing association secures injunctions against tenants to protect neighbours from abuse.
People can also have their homes taken from them by Bolton at Home if they are found to be involved in crime, fail to make payments or breach another aspect of their tenancy agreements.
Tess Ash, assistant director of neighbourhood safety at Bolton at Home, said: “Taking possession of a person’s property is not a decision we come to lightly.
“We want the perpetrator to understand the conse-quences and engage in support services to help them change their behaviour.
“Sometimes there are underlying issues, such as drugs and alcohol, or the person might have issues with life skills and they might need support.”
Neighbours will go through mediation to try to resolve problems — but more severe action is taken against people taking part in “corrosive” anti-social behaviour. They risk prosecution and losing their home.
Kim Painter, a lawyer for the housing association, said that when people are taken to court, Bolton at Home has to prove to the judge the person has been given opportunities to “engage” and that taking the home from the tenant is the last resort.
Staff say it is a myth that young people cause the majority of anti-social behaviour incidents, as most of the complaints received are about adults.
These can range from abuse, drug dealing, violence, drug cultivation and loud music.
Bolton at Home was granted an injunction at Bolton County Court in May, banning Carl O’Brien, of Anfield Road, Great Lever, from entering a home on that road and from harassing anyone. He faces arrest if he breaks the injunctions.
Neighbour from hell Lyndsey Glove, of Wilderswood Avenue, Horwich, was evicted from her home after repeatedly disturbing other residents with her anti-social behaviour.
In March, Damian Gaskell, aged 37, and Leanne Davies, aged 29, were thrown out of their Bolton at Home property in Campbell Court, Farnworth, after running into rent arrears. The police had also received a catalogue of complaints about the couple.
People evicted from their homes are referred to Homeless Welfare, who will accommodate them for 28 days. But then they have to find their own place to stay. People will often struggle to get social housing again if they have caused trouble for a former landlord.
Sharon Naughton, principal neighbourhood safety manager at Bolton at Home, said staff liaise with police and other authorities regularly to keep tabs on people who are causing problems and to help reduce crime. She added that action is taken against people who are not creating a safe environment.
Mrs Naughton said: “In all of these cases we’ve worked tirelessly to ensure strong action is taken against these individuals.
“We will not tolerate tenants, or their associates, causing alarm and distress to neighbours and other members of the public.
“We continue to urge anyone who witnesses such behaviour to report it to us, and to the police, so that we can deal with it accordingly and create a safer environment for all our residents to live in.”
- Next week: Domestic violence and warnings over behaviour during the World Cup.