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Antisocial Behaviour Management and Housing

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1 Antisocial Behaviour Management and Housing
Simon Y. Yau Department of Public and Social Administration City University of Hong Kong Public The University of Adelaide 15 February 2012

2 Outline of the Presentation
Overview of antisocial behaviour and its control definitions, classifications and causes control or mitigation measures Control of ASB in public housing in Hong Kong introduction of the Marking Scheme does the Marking Scheme work? flaws or social impacts of the marking scheme ASB in Hong Kong’s private housing insignificant or ignored? Future directions for ASB research and policy-making

3 Part A Overview of Antisocial Behaviour and its Control in Housing

4 Definitions of “Antisocial Behaviour”
Antisocial behaviour (ASB) is behaviour that opposes society's norms and accepted standards of behaviour. include criminal acts and less serious nuisance such as dumping rubbish (Chartered Institute of Housing, 1995: 3) “…the problem is a direct result of behaviour by one household or individuals in an area which threatens the physical or mental health, safety or security of other households and individuals.” (Scottish Affairs Committee, 1996) ASB is “behaviour that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the perpetrator”. (1998 Crime and Disorder Act)

5 Definitions of “Antisocial Behaviour” (cont’d)
Social Exclusion Unit Home Office White Paper Home Office’s One Day Count Noise Conflicts (including harassment and domestic violence) Litter and rubbish dumping Graffiti and vandalism Uncontrolled pets Using and selling drugs Nuisance from vehicles Unkempt gardens Harassment and intimidating behaviour Behaviour that creates alarm or fear Noisy neighbours Drunken and abusive behaviour Vandalism, graffiti and other deliberate damage to property Dumping rubbish or litter Litter / rubbish Criminal damage / vandalism Vehicle related nuisance Nuisance behaviour Intimidation / harassment Rowdy behaviour Abandoned vehicles Street drinking and begging

6 Definitions of “Antisocial Behaviour” (cont’d)
ASB is a confusing term never straight-forward to have an precise definition different parties (e.g. residents, politicians and housing managers) use the term for their own purpose ASB is also named as problem of “disruptive tenants or residents” in Australia “quality-of-life crime” or problem in the US “misdeed” in Hong Kong incivilities, social disorder, neighbourhood nuisances …… etc. ASB takes different forms with varying levels of intensity There is no universally applicable definition of ASB Situational definition – some look at the issue in a larger context while some in a smaller context

7 ASB as a Spectrum Category of Behaviour Actual Behaviour
Extreme behaviour Drug dealing, unprovoked assault, serious harassment, racial harassment Serious anti-social behaviour Threatening abuse, serious disturbance, vandalism, damage to property Other nuisance case Family disputes affecting others, dog control, behaviour of children (Source: Chartered Institute of Housing, 1996: 4) Type of problem Nature of Problem Neighbour Disputes from nuisance (e.g. noise) Neighbourhood Incivilities within public spaces (e.g. rubbish) Crime All forms of criminal activities (Source: Scott & Parkey, 1998: 329)

8 ASB Classes under Three-Strike Policy in WA
Dangerous Behaviour Serious Behaviour Minor Behaviour Assault and acts of violence toward neighbours Arson Manufacture of drugs Stalking Extensive, deliberate damage to property other than the rented premises Aggressive and threatening acts Abusive language directed at neighbours Vandalism to neighbour’s properties Drunken behaviour which impacts on other residents Car burnouts Dangerous driving Hoon behaviour Nuisance from children Excessive noise Property condition that impacts on neighbours Unwanted entry into neighbouring properties Domestic disputes which cause disturbance to neighbours

9 Perceived Causes of ASB in the UK
Which one or two of these do you think are the main causes of ASB by youth today? % Parents not bringing up their children appropriately 53 Drug and alcohol abuse 49 Lack of discipline in schools 28 Not enough for teenagers to do 27 Peer pressure 16 Break-up of marriages 14 Others 1 Mental disorder not counted Concentrated in social housing (Source: Ipsos Mori, 2006) N = 2,048

10 Perceived Causes of ASB in Hong Kong
Do you think that the following cause the neighbourhood problems in public housing? Mean score Poor parenting 3.85 Poor discipline at school 3.83 Ineffective policing 3.76 Boredom 3.51 Mental illness or disorder 3.40 Unemployment 3.24 Alcohol or drugs 2.51 Mental disorder not counted Concentrated in social housing (Source: Yau, 2011) N = 339

11 Common Measures to Control ASB in Housing
Legal measures ASB orders or injunction orders parenting orders Tenancy measures lease termination or non-renewal of leases introductory, probationary or fixed-term tenancies acceptable behaviour contract or agreement Mediating or intervention measures mediation or neighbourhood wardens close monitoring or intervention unit (e.g. in WA) multi-agency approaches most common reason for the eviction is rent arrear or non-payment of rent Not effective - cannot make sure that ASB will not be committed after the probationary period

12 Common Measures to Control ASB in Housing (cont’d)
Tenant incentive schemes paint kits or garden subsidies (e.g. in NT and WA) priority response to repair order or rental concession recognition and rewards scheme (in SA)??

13 Part B Control of ASB in Public Housing in Hong Kong

14 Control of Anti-social Behaviour in Hong Kong
ASB is a term never used by the Hong Kong Government Piece-meal controls over different ASB in the city: ASB Control Creating noise nuisance Noise Control Ordinance Deliberate littering Fixed Penalty (Public Cleanliness Offences) Ordinance Objects dropped from height Summary Offences Ordinance Drunkenness Graffiti and vandalism

15 Opportunistic Start of ASB Control in Housing
As an aftermath of the SARS outbreak in 2003 Team Clean set up on 5 May 2003 stringent enforcement of spitting and littering in public areas raising fixed penalty for spitting and littering from $600 to $1,500 inspection of external drainage pipes in all residential buildings clean-up of hygiene blackspots terminating the leases of and evicting public housing tenants who repeatedly breach the health code The Subsidized Housing Committee of the Housing Authority (HA) endorsed at its meeting on 29 May 2003 to strengthen action through the introduction of a marking scheme for tenancy enforcement in public housing

16 Introduction of the Marking Scheme
Marking Scheme for Tenancy Enforcement implemented since 1 August 2003 by the Housing Department in public rental housing (PRH) and interim housing (IH) renamed to the Marking Scheme for Estate Management Enforcement in Public Housing Estates on 18 October 2006 to signify its wider use for more effective estate management Stated objectives of the marking scheme to promote environmental hygiene and management of public housing estates to build up a sustained healthy and pleasant living environment

17 Operation of the Marking Scheme
Leasing conditions public housing tenants should keep the leased premises and the estate environment clean and hygienic tenants should not interfere life enjoyment of other tenants Marking Scheme for Tenancy Enforcement tenancy terminated when 16 points recorded within 2 years if tenancy is terminated, the households will be barred from applying for PRH through General Waiting List for two years 5 pts 5 pts 5 pts 10 pts Household accumulated 10 points: receive a warning letter from the HD Detail the points allotted and remind the tenant of the possible consequence if more points are allotted. Copied to all adult members of the household HD staff will meet the tenant and the person(s) who committed the misdeeds 16 valid points accrued: tenancy will be liable to termination by the service of Notice-to-Quit (NTQ) required to vacate the public housing flat offer of IH in the New Territories applications for PRH through General Waiting List: banned for two years will not offer a flat of better quality 1 Jan 05 5 Jan 06 17 Aug 06 1 Jan 07

18 Operation of the Marking Scheme (cont’d)
Other effect on the household any household carrying valid penalty points to be barred from applying for alternative accommodation, better/larger or otherwise, through external or internal transfer (except those affected by government’s relocation actions) As at 31 January 2012, there were 28 misdeed items grouped under Category A, B, C or D Category A minor misdeeds carrying 3 points Categories B and C - more serious ones carrying 5 and points respectively Category D - the most serious one carrying 15 points

19 Misdeeds (with prior warning before point allotment)
Misdeeds where warnings will be given before allotment of points Points 1. Drying clothes in public areas (except in areas designated by the HD) 3 2. Utilizing laundry pole-holders for drying floor mop 3. Putting dripping flower pots or dripping laundry on balconies 4. Dripping oil from exhaust fan 5. Obstructing corridors or stairs with sundry items rendering cleansing difficult 5 6. Causing mosquito breeding by accumulating stagnant water 7. Causing noise nuisance 8. Water dripping from air-conditioner 9. Denying the entry of HD staff for repairs which are the responsibility of the HD 7 10. Refusing to repair leaking pipes or sanitary fittings for which the tenant is responsible 11. Damaging sewage pipes causing leakage to the flat below 12. Accumulating a large quantity of refuse or waste inside leased premises, creating offensive smell and hygienic nuisance

20 Misdeeds (no prior warning before point allotment)
Misdeeds where points will be allotted immediately Points 1. Littering 5 2. Disposing of domestic refuse indiscriminately, such as improper disposal in lift lobbies or inside bins without cover 3. Keeping animal, bird or livestock inside leased premises without prior written consent of the Landlord 4. Allowing animal and livestock under charge to foul public places with faeces 5. Boiling wax in public areas 6. Smoking or carrying a lighted cigarette in estate common area 7. Illegal gambling in public places 8. Throwing objects from heights that jeopardize environmental hygiene 7

21 Misdeeds (no prior warning before point allotment)
Misdeeds where points will be allotted immediately Points 9. Spitting in public areas 7 10. Urinating and defecating in public places 11 Dumping or disposing of decoration debris indiscriminately at refuse collection points, within building or in other public areas 12. Using leased premises as food factory or storage 13. Illegal hawking of cooked food 14. Damaging or stealing Housing Authority's property 15. Using leased premises for illegal purpose 16. Throwing objects from height that may cause danger or personal injury 15

22 Figures about the Marking Scheme (up to Dec 2011)
17,990 allotments of penalty points involving 16,410 households (2.3% of public housing households) 1,030 households accrued 10 points or more Most frequently committed misdeeds smoking in estate common area (6,160 cases) littering (5,720 cases) 46 households receiving 16 or more points 2 surrendering their PRH flats voluntarily 34 Notices-to-quit (NTQs) issued with 10 cases withdrawn on special grounds (Source: Hong Kong Housing Authority)

23 Is the Marking Scheme Effective?
Improvement in Strongly Agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree Environmental cleanliness 18.0% 39.8% 30.7% 7.7% 3.8% Quietness 2.9% 30.1% 40.1% 23.0% Conditions of facilities 4.4% 20.1% 41.9% 26.0% Personal safety and security 6.2% 24.2% 41.6% 23.9% 4.1% Overall quality of the living environment 7.4% 39.2% 18.3% 5.0% (Source: Yau, 2012) N = 339

24 Flaws and Social Impacts (1)
Household as a subject unit of the marking scheme one of the members commits wrongdoings and other members of the family are punished as well i.e., collateral punishment or sanction by association contradicting with the principle of welfare contractualism 40.4% of the respondents (in Yau, 2012) regarded household-based punishment unfair 59.6% thought that family harmony has been undermined because of the marking scheme (due to “culture of blame”) Think Point: Should a resident be responsible for the activities of his or her family member in public housing?

25 Flaws and Social Impacts (2)
Tenure-biased or selective enforcement against ASB public rental housing tenants being the only subject 46.9% of the respondents (in Yau, 2012) opined that the marking scheme has stereotyped public housing tenants as problematic residents Enforcement against ASB being location-specific penalty points will be allotted only if the misdeed is committed in the housing estate where the perpetrator is living Think Point: If the marking scheme aims to rectify bad habits of the residents, why bother discriminating the enforcement?

26 Flaws and Social Impacts (3)
Mutual surveillance among neighbours 54.9% perceived a greater tension among residents after the implementation of the scheme Eviction helps victims but not perpetrators fostering a culture of “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) beyond the capacity of the HKHA to change behaviour (e.g. creating nuisance due to mental illness) 35.7% of the respondents (in Yau, 2012) worried that someone could abuse the marking scheme to pick on them  social exclusion of minority or disadvantaged groups 50.7% became more afraid of being evicted because of weakened tenure security

27 Flaws and Social Impacts (4)
No prior comprehensive public or tenant consultation consulting Estate Management Advisory Committee only 34.5% thought that they had not been well consulted before the implementation of the marking scheme Do all the items under the marking scheme are socially undesirable? e.g. pet guardianship at home? misdeeds that are not necessary to be included (Yau, 2012) obstructing corridors or stairs with sundry items keeping animal inside leased premises without consent water dripping from air-conditioner

28 Flaws and Social Impacts (5)
Whose responsibility in case of design flaw? drying clothes in public areas  no balcony or utility platform damaging sewage pipes causing leakage to the flat below  drain stack running in the flat (not on the external wall) Waste stack

29 Part C ASB in Hong Kong’s Private Housing (an ongoing study)

30 No ASB in Private Housing ?


32 Perceived Seriousness of ASB
Private Housing (n=287) Public Housing (n=339) Noise nuisances 3.72 Litter 3.62 3.68 Illegal gambling 3.48 Pipe leakage or seepage 3.57 3.46 Abusive use of communal space or facilities 3.53 Objects thrown from height 3.41 Uncontrolled dogs 3.40 Vandalism or graffiti 3.28 Passive smoking 3.31 Illegal dealings 3.21 Waste accumulation 3.18 3.16 (Sources: Yau, 2012; an ongoing study)

33 Perceived Causes of ASB
Private Housing (n=287) Public Housing (n=339) Ineffective policy or management 3.92 Poor parenting 3.85 3.78 Poor discipline at school 3.83 Mental illness or disorder 3.63 3.76 3.58 Boredom 3.51 3.31 3.40 Unemployment 2.75 3.24 Alcohol or drugs 2.38 2.51 (Sources: Yau, 2011; an ongoing study)

34 Determinants of intolerance with ASB
Private Housing (n=287) Public Housing (n=339) Male Female Middle age (31-50 years old) Younger Better-educated Middle-income no effect Shorter length of residence Dissatisfied with housing quality Small family size Locally born or grew up Living in high-rise housing not investigated (Sources: Yau, 2011; an ongoing study)

35 Unhelpful Housing Management Agents
For those who have lodged complaints against ASB to the property management company or residents association 67% opined that the agent could help them to solve the nuisance that affect many owners in the building 22% opined that the agent could help them to solve the nuisance that affect the complainant only Perpetrator Managing Residents Association / Property Manager Electing or Appointing Complainant

36 Control of ASB in Private Housing
Powerful sanction e.g. eviction considered in few cases only e.g. rental housing estate solely owned by one single landlord owner-occupiers under no threat of eviction In most private multi-owned housing, ASB control relies on enforcement of deed of mutual covenant or house rules specific ordinances e.g. Noise Control Ordinance statutory injunction order tort law (claiming for damages only) Think Point: Is private property right always a hurdle for ASB control in private housing? What else can we do in private housing?

37 Part D Future Directions for ASB Research and Policy-Making

38 A New Perspective into ASB Research ?
Anatomy of social problems and associated policies social constructionism/constructivism, path dependency … etc. how about using new institutional economics? Common assumptions of neoclassical theories property rights being clearly defined cost of enforcement (e.g. court proceedings) being negligible Transaction costs incurred in different stages of control contract writing – defining the rights and ASB bargaining – reaching acceptable agreement policing – checking for ASB enforcement – punishing perpetrator

39 Example 1: Noise Nuisances
Why noise nuisances are so difficult to deal with? right to silence? or right to make sounds? what is or constitutes a noise? barking dog? crying baby? standard of silence? 45dB? 60dB? costs of policing and enforcement disproportionately high noises can be discontinuous and spontaneous how can you take the evidence of the nuisance? High contracting, policing and enforcement costs  prevalence of the noise problem

40 Example 2: Good Resident Agreement
What is a good resident? what are acts that a good resident should not do? can all these acts listed in the agreement exhaustively? is there a universal agreement applicable to all communities? Definition of ASB can be community-specific e.g. playing firecrackers considered a dangerous and annoying act in high-rise housing welcomed by villagers because it is a traditional custom How to be agreed by a large group of people?

41 Reducing Transaction Costs in ASB Control
New South Wales Maintaining a pleasant and comfortable living environment a matter of collectivism proper behaviour of one household is not enough ! Cooperation is more likely if there is strong social norm, community cohesiveness, place attachment, ... etc. ethical or norm-oriented behaviour reducing transaction costs Community- or neighbourliness-building strategies community-building projects in public housing in Hong Kong Good Neighbour Award in Singapore any examples in Australia ?

42 An old Chinese saying: “ 遠 親 不 如 近 鄰 ” Good neighbours are more helpful than distant relatives. -- Our neighbours can offer timely help when we are in need while distant relatives may not be able to offer immediate assistance.

43 References Chartered Institute of Housing (1995) Housing and Crime, How Well Are We Managing, Edinburgh: Chartered Institute of Housing. Chartered Institute of Housing (1996) Housing and Anti-social Behaviour, Coventry: Chartered Institute of Housing. Ipsos MORI (2006) Public attitudes to parenting, Scott, S. & Parkey, H. (1998) “Myths and reality: anti-social behaviour in Scotland”, Housing Studies, 13(3): Scottish Government Social Research (2007) Use of anti-social behaviour orders in Scotland, pdf. Yau, Y. (2011) “Ruling out trouble: unacceptable behaviour and its control in Hong Kong’s public housing”, Habitat International, 36(1): Yau, Y. (2012) “Social impacts of the marking scheme in public housing in Hong Kong”, Social Indicators Research, forthcoming.

44 Thank You ! For comments and questions,
please me at

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