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Neighbour disputes: taking legal action

In most cases legal action will not be appropriate and we will make every effort to resolve a dispute without going to court. However, in some cases we can and will apply to the court for one or more of the following remedies:

  • An Interdict
  • An Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)
  • A Decree for the Eviction of the problem tenant

However, all these remedies are granted at the discretion of the Sheriff. In other words the Council must provide enough supporting evidence to the court, so that the Sheriff considers it reasonable to grant them.

To be successful, court action might also involve further investigation by other council departments (such as Environmental Health) or other agencies (such as the Police).

Interdicts

An interdict is an order from the Sheriff Court to prevent a named person or persons repeating certain nuisances (e.g. Acts of violence or harassment).

Interdicts can only be used to stop a person from doing something, it cannot be used to make a person do something, such as make them clean the stairs or keep their garden tidy.

As well as the council, any individual person can also apply for an interdict. In certain serious and urgent circumstances the Sheriff may, grant an Interim Interdict until he/she decides whether or not to grant a full interdict.

The council can apply for an interdict as an alternative to, or in addition to, seeking an order for eviction.

If your neighbour continues to carry on with the activity, they are classed as being in breach of interdict. This is considered as contempt of court and your neighbour could be liable to a fine, or possibly imprisonment. However, the council will have to go back to court again, to prove its case to the Sheriff.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs)

Anti- Social behaviour orders (ASBOs) can be used to tackle serious anti-social behaviour, such as drug dealing, unprovoked assault, severe harassment, persistent vandalism, serious damage to property, racial harassment etc.

Like interdict's these orders try to prevent a person from doing something specific, which is causing alarm or distress in the community.

ASBO's can be taken against anyone over the age of 16, living in the South Ayrshire Council area, who commits serious anti social behaviour, such as those mentioned above, on at least two separate occasions.

NOTE - We will only consider making an application for an ASBO, when all other means of trying to resolve the problem, short of eviction, have failed.

We can go to court to seek an anti-social behaviour order not only against tenants, but against home owners, and those renting from a private landlord. However, we must provide enough evidence to convince the Sheriff to grant an ASBO.

If someone, who has been served with an ASBO, breaches the order, the police may arrest them and they may be liable to a fine or term of imprisonment.

Important

  • The council cannot apply to the court for an ASBO against someone whose behaviour is simply different or eccentric, or is a result of a mental health disorder.
  • ASBO's cannot be used, to address disputes between neighbours over boundaries and/or access rights.

When the court grants an ASBO, it will spell out exactly what the offender is not allowed to do in very clear terms. The council will then review the need for the ASBO on a regular basis.

If the person continues to act in the manner that led to the order being issued, you should contact Police Scotland (Ayr Office) on 01292 664 000, who will advise what to do next.

Decree for eviction

If all other attempts of resolving the problem with your neighbour have failed, the council can apply to the court for a decree to evict the tenant, who is causing the problem or nuisance.

The process of seeking a decree for eviction can take some time and usually involves people giving evidence in court.

In all cases the Sheriff decides whether to grant a decree for eviction. Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, we must show the Sheriff that it is reasonable to evict the tenant. Therefore, we need strong supporting evidence from neighbour(s) and also from other agencies and council departments, such as the police and environmental health.

If the Sheriff grants a decree for eviction for anti-social behaviour, we will not offer the problem tenant another Secure Tenancy with South Ayrshire Council, within a three year period of the date of the decree.

We may however offer a Short Scottish Secure Tenancy, which gives them fewer rights and less security of tenure.

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Last updated: 25 February 2016

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