Getting support from local authorities

If you are a council tenant

If you are a council tenant, the borough can take a number of actions to assist you including

  • Firm action against the perpetrator(s)
  • Provision of security measures
  • Regular visits from your housing officer, or other forms of support
  • Seeking injunctions against the perpetrator(s)
  • Consideration for a transfer or provision of emergency temporary accommodation

 

Obtaining assistance

If you are a victim of an incident of harassment you should report this to your area office, or make an appointment to see either your housing officer or the Area Tenancy Enforcement Officer. If the incident is serious the officer may attend your house. Remember that you should report the incident without delay.

You should give the Tenancy Enforcement Officer a clear account of the incident, and if you believe that it was connected with your race, you should say so.

The Housing Department will ensure that full details are taken, and advise you of the action that they can take. They should then ask you what you would like them to do and take action in accordance with your wishes insofar as that it is possible.

Ask them to give you a copy of the report that they have taken, and confirmation of the action they have agreed to take.

 

Action that can be taken by the Housing Department

The council can do the following:

  • Send general warning letters, which remind all tenants of their obligations, under the tenancy agreement. The council need not mention that you have made a complaint.
  • Before taking action send a letter, which specifies, what the perpetrators have done, and which state clearly that legal proceedings will be commenced if there is a further incident.
  • Ban racist youths around certain parts of council property
  • Obtain an injunction through court proceedings. An injunction is a court order which states that a particular person must not harass another person or even go to a certain area. If an injunction is breached then the council can take the person back to court, and have them committed. They can be imprisoned, though usually they get fined, or given suspended sentences. At the moment an injunction can only be obtained against someone who is eighteen years or older.
  • Commence possession proceedings to evict council tenants where they, their children, or their visitors are the cause of harassment. The first step involves serving a Notice of Seeking Possession. An injunction can also be obtained as part of these proceedings to ensure your immediately safety.
  • Commence Magistrates Court Proceedings to prevent noise nuisance. This applies when there is regular loud noise. The Environmental Health Department and not the Housing Department is responsible for these proceedings. Further the Environmental Health Department has a strict legal duty to action such circumstances.
  • Use other legal powers available to them, for example, in connection with the use of roads and highways.
  • Appropriate support measures
  • Carry out emergency repairs
  • Offer you certain security features including fireproof letter boxes
  • Remove offensive graffiti
  • Give you consideration for a priority management transfer

This can only be done with your consent. If you do not give your consent you cannot expect the council to take any action against the perpetrator. The council can conceal your address, and possibly your identity, if you are fearful of reprisals.

The local authority will award a priority management transfer if the harassment is sufficiently serious. This will only be on and like for like basis and you will only receive one offer, If the harassment if very serious the local authority may also provide you with temporary accommodation in the interim.

 

Where should you report racist incidents

If you are unhappy with the response from the council

If you are unhappy with the response of your Tenancy Enforcement Offlcer, or if you need assistance in communicating with your communicating with your housing officer, you should ask either so see the Area Contract or contact the Monitoring Group for help.

If you remain dissatisfied with the response from the local authority you should complain through their complaints procedure or write to the Head of Community Support, Housing and Social Services Department.

If after complaining to the local authority you remain dissatisfied then you may complain to the Local Authority Ombudsman. The address is

Local Government Ombudsman

PO Box 4771 Coventry CV4 0EH

Tel: 0300 061 0614

Fax: 024 7682 0001

Email: advice@lgo.org.uk

Web: http://www.lgo.org.uk

What to do if you are NOT a council tenant

The council has a duty to give you some assistance, whether or not you are a council tenant. You should approach you local area Housing Office for help. Dependant on your circumstance the council may do the following

  • Prosecute the landlord or another tenant/owner-occupier who may be harassing you, with the intention of forcing you to move out of your home
  • Take action to prevent a statutory nuisance, which would include noise nuisance or dumping of rubbish at, or near your property. Thus increasing the risk of disease and infestation. The Environmental Health Department will be responsible for this, and has a duty to take such action.
  • Assist you in obtaining an injunction against perpetrators. This would be either through funding proceedings, which you commence, or by using other law (that is soon to come into force) which will allow the council to seek injunctions against perpetrators, if they are council tenants.
  • If you bought you property under the right to buy, the Council will have a duty to assist you.