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Neighbour Disputes and Nuisance Policy

Download Evolve Housing 'Neighbour Disputes and Nuisance' Policy (PDF)

Contents

1. Purpose
2. Scope
3. Definitions
4. Policy statement
4.1 Obligations of Evolve Housing and tenants
4.2 Early intervention and mediation
4.3 Written complaints
4.4 Neighbour disputes involving Evolve Housing tenants
4.5 Neighbour disputes involving non-Evolve Housing tenants
5. Responsibilities
6. Related resources
7. Where to get more information

1. Purpose

This document defines Evolve Housing’s approach to responding to issues of nuisance and annoyance when a resident breaches their Residential Tenancy Agreement.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all tenants of Evolve Housing.

3. Definitions

  • Applicant – the person who makes the formal application for housing assistance
  • Tenant – the person who signs the Residential Tenancy Agreement with Evolve Housing
  • Resident – a person who lives in the property on a permanent basis
  • Spouse – a husband or wife considered in relation to their partner
  • Household members – all people living in the home regardless of age or relationship

4. Policy statement

Evolve Housing is committed to maintaining a peaceful living environment for all residents.

Evolve Housing residents have the right to the peaceful enjoyment of their property and to live in peace and harmony with their neighbours. When disputes with neighbours are brought to Evolve Housing’s attention, Evolve Housing will firstly encourage residents to sort out their own problems by discussion or through mediation; if the dispute concerns a breach of the tenancy agreement by another Evolve Housing resident, Evolve Housing may take action. 

This document outlines Evolve Housing’s policy for assisting residents and intervening in neighbour disputes.  

4.1 Obligations of Evolve Housing and tenants

Evolve Housing is committed to a fair and discrimination free living environment for all residents and will not tolerate harassment or discrimination towards any resident or resident group. This includes verbal, physical or any other form of harassment, discrimination or threatening behaviour related to racial, religious, cultural or personal differences. While Evolve Housing may advise residents in dealing with disputes (see below), Evolve Housing will only intervene in a neighbourhood dispute or investigate allegations that involve breaches of the tenancy agreement – that is, where the neighbour being complained about is an Evolve Housing resident. Additionally, it is not the role of Evolve Housing to carry out criminal investigations.

Residents have an obligation to abide by the Nuisance and Annoyance conditions of their Residential Tenancy Agreement, including being responsible for their own conduct as well as for the behaviour of other occupants of the household and visitors to their property.

4.2 Early intervention and mediation

Early intervention practices and referral to support services where appropriate can minimise the escalation of disputes between neighbours.

Evolve Housing will encourage residents to try to resolve problems with other residents themselves, such as through discussion with their neighbour or with the assistance of mediation services. Evolve Housing will refer residents to Community Justice Centres for assistance when appropriate and if the parties agree to attend. Evolve Housing will not act as an advocate or third party in such disputes.

In general, Evolve Housing will make information available to all residents about how to be a good neighbour and seek to build positive relationships through mutual understanding and acceptance. This may include providing information in the New Resident Kit, in resident fact sheets, on the Evolve Housing website and in the Evolve Housing resident newsletter, as well as encouraging resident outings, activities and gatherings to get to know and understand each other.

4.3 Written complaints

If a neighbour dispute is not resolved through discussion or mediation, Evolve Housing will request the resident to put their complaint in writing for further consideration and possible investigation. All complaints of nuisance and annoyance made against Evolve Housing residents must be in writing.

  • The client’s name and address
  • Details of the complaint and supporting documentation
  • The date of the incident complained about
  • The date the complaint was lodged.

Following the receipt of a written complaint, Evolve Housing will investigate the matter promptly. As soon as possible after the complaint is lodged, Evolve Housing will write to the client to acknowledge receipt within 2 working days and inform them of Evolve Housing’s intention to investigate and respond within 20 working days. Evolve Housing may also keep the client informed about the progress of their complaint during this period if necessary or advisable. During the course of the investigation, there must be no identification of the complainant to the other Evolve Housing resident, unless with the written permission of the complainant.

4.4 Neighbour disputes involving Evolve Housing tenants

Where the alleged perpetrator is an Evolve Housing resident and the complaint involves behaviour that is persistent or intentional, represents a serious nuisance and annoyance and causes interference with the peace, comfort, or privacy of others, the resident may be in breach of their tenancy agreement with Evolve Housing.

Evolve Housing will initiate action to substantiate any claims. Where appropriate, Evolve Housing may seek information from other agencies such as the NSW Police. If the complainant is at risk, they will be advised to make a formal complaint to the police.

If Evolve Housing is able to substantiate that a complaint is a breach of the tenancy agreement, the resident may, in the first instance, be given the opportunity to change their behaviour. Evolve Housing may also take any relevant legal action required at the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to remedy the dispute under the Nuisance and Annoyance provisions of the Residential Tenancy Agreement.

Where it is considered the complainant and/or the alleged perpetrator may be inappropriately housed and that rehousing may alleviate further disputes or breaches of their tenancy agreement, Evolve Housing may rehouse the resident/s.

4.5 Neighbour disputes involving non-Evolve Housing tenants

Where a written complaint is received from an Evolve Housing resident in relation to problems being experienced with a non-Evolve Housing resident, Evolve Housing will seek to establish its responsibility as a landlord to intervene in such disputes. 

If it is determined that Evolve Housing is unable to or should not intervene, Evolve Housing will further counsel and inform the resident of the avenues available to them, such as:

  • Communication with their neighbour
  • Intervention by local authorities including bodies corporate, councils, etc
  • Intervention by the police, particularly if the complainant may be at risk
  • Available meditation processes, including Community Justice Centres.

This policy is subject to change from time to time at the discretion of Evolve Housing. Where an individual is observed to not be working within the scope of this policy, the breach will be addressed by a team leader.

5. Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the:

Chief Executive Officer to ensure this policy and associated procedures are applied and committed to by the Executive Leadership Team.

General Manager, Housing & Property Services to provide the team with timely policy-related support and guidance.

Leadership Team/Team Leaders to ensure familiarity with this policy and related procedures, to commit to following them accordingly and where relevant, promote the policy to their team.

Employees to ensure they comply with this policy, be responsible for their own behaviour and if required, attend relevant training as provided by the company from time to time.

6. Related resources

7. Where to get more information

Contact Evolve Housing on 1300 692 245 or 02 8862 1500 or info@evolvehousing.com.au.

If a client believes Evolve Housing has made a wrong decision they should ask for a formal review of the decision. To do this, the client needs to complete an Appeals Form stating why they disagree with the decision. Evolve Housing has an Appeals PolicyAppeals Factsheet and Appeals Form

If the client is dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal appeal process they can proceed to make an appeal to the Indepent Housing Appeals Committee (HAC). Evolve Housing will advise the client how to lodge an appeal with HAC. Alternatively, they may access the HAC website or free call on 1800 629 794. The HAC is an independent appeals agency for all NSW social housing clients.

Document no:  HS006   |  Approved:  December 2014