Your responsibilities as a tenant
When you signed the tenancy agreement for your new home, you accepted a number of responsibilities which were explained to you by your community based housing officer. These responsibilities are to do with the care you take of your home, your neighbours and your neighbourhood. They are intended to make sure that you and your neighbours can live in your homes in peace and comfort.
Antisocial behaviour and disputes between neighbours can often be addressed by the Community Safety Unit (CSU) which is situated within the West Lothian Civic Centre building at Howden South Road in Livingston. The CSU continues to maintain the good partnership working that exists between West Lothian Council, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and West Lothian voluntary organisations.
For more information visit the Antisocial Behaviour page.
Mediation is an attempt to get all parties to discuss the causes of the issues and to find a solution that benefits both parties. There are two types of mediation. Firstly face-to-face mediation where the Officer will arrange a meeting for you both to discuss the problems, alternatively, shuttle mediation is when the Officer will act as a go between and tries to find common ground and a solution to the problem.
Will the Council evict an antisocial tenant?
Yes. The CSU will explore many possibilities in an attempt to resolve any issues or concerns before a decision is taken to evict an antisocial tenant. If all these have failed or are impractical then legal action will be considered. Before the Council can evict an antisocial tenant it will need your support as a witness in any court action. The Sheriff in court will make the final decision.
Will antisocial tenants be rehoused by the Council if they are evicted?
The Council will usually have no obligation to rehouse antisocial tenants in West Lothian with a Scottish Secure Tenancy Agreement after they have been evicted. All cases will be considered based on their own circumstances.
Why does the Council take so long to evict antisocial tenants?
The process of removing a household from their home is a lengthy one which involves many agencies other than Housing, Customer & Building Services. To be fair to everyone concerned we must be objective and take time to make sure all parties have an opportunity to either be heard or change their behaviour.
The Council will always respond as quickly as possible to these problems and ensure that you are kept informed of the process as it progresses.
We take antisocial behaviour very seriously and will investigate all reports, and attempt to resolve the problem, through legal action if necessary. However, resolving the problem may take time.
Support can be provided by Victim Support West Lothian.
Noise is a fact of every day life, and everyone has to accept that some daily activities will create noise. However, there are some types of noise which are unacceptable and some times of the day and night when noise really does cause a nuisance.
It can be really annoying when dogs bark for long periods of time or during the night. If you have a dog please make sure that it is not left alone for long periods of time, and that it is exercised regularly - particularly if you live in a flat and don't have your own garden. If your neighbours do complain please take their comments seriously and try to solve the problem.
There are a number of areas in West Lothian where dogs running around on their own cause distress and concern, particularly to children and to elderly people. Always make sure your dog is on a lead in residential areas and only let it run around when it is safe to do so. Permission is required to have a dog in your tenancy; this can be requested at your local Housing Office. Any complaints regarding dogs should be directed to the Customer Service Centre on 01506 280000.
Music played loudly at any time of the day or night can cause genuine distress and is one of the main reasons why neighbours fall out with each other. Please show consideration for others - play music at a reasonable level, and if you like it loud - use headphones!
If you intend to have a party please make sure you let your neighbours know well in advance. Your neighbours may be elderly or have young families and loud music playing into the night is likely to be very annoying and upsetting if it happens regularly.
Housing, Customer & Building Services and our partners the Community Safety Unit are experienced in dealing with noise complaints and will take action, (including legal action) against tenants who are acting unreasonably. Again, if your neighbours do complain, take it seriously - because West Lothian Council and our parent agencies will!
Children and young people playing
Please make sure that you know where your children and teenagers are, and that they are not causing a nuisance to others living in your neighbourhood. It can be dangerous for young people, especially young children, to be out at night and it can be a cause for concern for other local people.
Youth disorder can cause some distress within a community, it is important to note that Housing, Customer and Building Services will take the appropriate action against any tenant involved in situations where youth disorder or unreasonable behaviour has been identified as being connected to their property and has continued to occur and it is clear that action has become necessary.
DIY work and alterations to your home
If you are carrying out improvements to your home please make sure that you let your neighbours know if you intend to work in the evening. Any work that involves banging, drilling or other loud noise should not be carried out too late at night or very early in the morning. If you are doing a lot of work, please make sure that you tell your neighbours and your Community Housing Officer how long it is likely to take and when it will be finished. If you do this, you are less likely to receive any complaints.
Please bear in mind that improvements and alterations will require written consent from the council (See the section on Repairs for more details).
Other serious breaches of your tenancy conditions
If your home is used for illegal or immoral purposes, such as drug dealing, prostitution or any criminal activity linked to these activities you will be in serious breach of your tenancy agreement and the Council is likely to take action to recover possession of your home.
Fixed Penalty Notices
A Fixed Penalty Notice can be issued where, after being served with a warning notice, a person continues to make noise that exceeds the permitted legal levels. If the person pays the penalty on the notice - currently £100 - they would not then be liable to prosecution. If the penalty is not paid, the offence would then be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.
Before a fixed penalty notice can be served, officers would require a measurement of the noise levels from within your property. The officers would make every effort to be discreet on entering and leaving your property and in no circumstances would your details be divulged to the person any notice was served upon.
Housing, Customer & Building Services will take all possible steps to prevent harassment from happening and will tackle this and any intimidation experienced by our tenants.
What is harassment?
Harassment can take many forms, this can include any behaviour or actions intended or likely to intimidate, offend or harm an individual or group.
There is no 'list' of what behaviour or actions are unacceptable, if an incident or the way in which someone is being treated is felt to be harassment or intimidation by the victim or any other person this can then can be classed as harassment.
Where does it happen?
It can happen to anyone; unfortunately it tends to be the more vulnerable members of a community who suffer from harassment. Victimisation can occur based on:
- Race or ethnic origin
- Disability - mental or physical
- Sexual orientation
- Circumstances - single parent, homelessness, neighbour disputes
What will Housing Customer & Building Services do?
We will respond to all complaints of harassment in West Lothian regardless of whether the victim (or the perpetrator) is a council tenant, private sector tenant or an owner/occupier. We will take all possible steps to stop such harassment and any further threats by referring the case to the Community Safety Unit.
Our commitment to victims of harassment
- We will act swiftly to respond to reports of harassment and will work to prevent the occurrence of further harassment.
- When an incident is reported, an officer from the CSU team will respond within 5 working days to arrange a suitable time to meet and discuss the issue.
- Where violence is threatened or the issue is more serious, this will happen within 24 hours
- Where racist or sectarian graffiti has occurred, we will remove this within 24 hours
- If necessary, we will provide interpretation and translation where required.
- We will ensure that there is a range of options to report harassment, including in person or by phone at our CIS/CSC, anonymous reporting, textphone for hard of hearing and deaf customers, online, by fax and in writing.
- We can provide a range of options, including legal action where necessary to resolve the complaint.
Who to contact if you are being harassed?
Contact your local office or the Community Safety Unit on 01506 280000. You can also contact Police Scotland.
The Scottish Secure Tenancy Agreement requires you to get written permission before keeping a pet. If permission is given, you will be asked to sign an agreement to keep the conditions that apply.
To protect the pet, your neighbours, the property and the neighbourhood environment, the following conditions apply to all permitted pets:
- You are responsible for the behaviour of any pets owned by you or anyone living with you
- You must take all reasonable steps to prevent such pets causing nuisance, annoyance or danger to your neighbours. This includes fouling, noise or smell from your pet,
- You must take reasonable care to see that such pets do not foul or cause damage to your house, your neighbour's property, communal areas, communal gardens, footpaths or drying areas,
- You are responsible for cleaning up dog faeces, and on the spot fines can be imposed on those who allow their dog to foul in a public place without cleaning this up. If you think your local area needs a Dog Fouling Bin, please contact the Customer Service Centre on 01506 280000 to have this considered.
- You must make sure that your pet is exercised appropriately
- You are required to pay the costs of making good any damage to our property caused by your pet.
If your pet causes a persistent nuisance we can require your pet to be removed from your home, and take legal action against you for breaking your tenancy agreement.
When can written permission be given?
You do not need written permission for working guide dogs and hearing/assistance dogs.
- Permission will normally only be given for domestic pets, such as cats, dogs, small caged rodents, caged birds, fish in tanks
- Permission will normally be limited to two pets per house
- Permission will only be given for an exotic pet (e.g. reptiles, insects, and spiders) if you can demonstrate that the pet would be kept in appropriate conditions to protect the pet, the neighbours, the neighbourhood environment, and avoid causing any nuisance to neighbours. You would be expected to have looked into good practice advice provided by animal welfare groups or breeder organisations and be able to look after the pet in accordance with that advice
- Permissions will never be given for poisonous pets such as poisonous snakes or spiders, or pets prohibited by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1992, or by any other law
- Permission will not be given for poultry or farm animals such as sheep, pigs, cows, goats
- Permission will only be given to keep pigeons if the pigeons will be kept in a pigeon coup, which meets all the requirements as specified by Building Standards
- Permission will not automatically be refused if you live in a property with a shared entrance, but you must be able to show that you can avoid causing any nuisance to neighbours
- Permission will not be given if you live in sheltered accommodation or Homeless accommodation
- Permission will not be given if there are complaints about other pets at the property. Please note that permission to keep pets will be dependent on responsible pet ownership and condition of tenancy
- The therapeutic benefits of pet ownership will be taken into consideration
These guidelines were drawn up in partnership with tenants, to reflect tenants' views.
If you can no longer look after your pet
If your circumstances change and you're no longer able to look after your pet, it's an offence to abandon an animal, and you could be jailed or fined if you do so. Citizens Advice Scotland give guidance on what to do if you find yourself in this situation.
Domestic and Garden Rubbish
West Lothian Council collects domestic refuse and commercial refuse in all areas of the district on a regular basis, as well as providing a wide range of recycling facilities throughout. For more information on your recycling and collection days visit the Check Bin Collection Dates page.
All bins should be out on the kerb side by 7am on collection days. Unfortunately, we cannot take any refuse that is not in the bin. It is vital that all refuse is in the bin with the lid shut.
If you're elderly or disabled and struggle to get your bin to the kerb side, please contact us on 01506 280000 or Request an Assisted Collection online.
If your house has shared areas with other residents please respect their privacy and keep the areas you share in a clean and tidy condition.
The council employs a contractor to keep the common areas clean. This will include stairs and landings but does not include gardens and drying greens. These are your responsibility.
If you have use of a communal drying area, you are only permitted to use the drying area allocated to your property.
If you have a car you must park it in your driveway if you have one, or in the space provided. If you do not have a parking space please make sure that you do not block roads, paths or grassed areas. You need to make sure that there is enough space for fire engines, ambulances and police cars to get through.
Parking spaces marked for people with disabilities only must not be used for any other purpose.
You need our written permission before parking any motor vehicle, boat, or caravan in your garden, drying area or on a communal grassed area.
Illegally parked vehicles e.g. parked on the pavement
The police deal with illegally parked vehicles. This includes:
- Vehicles parked on the pavement
- Vehicles which have no road tax
If you have a vehicle that is in need of disposal search online or in a local business directory for car breakers.
An abandoned vehicle is a vehicle with no trace- able owner.
When a potentially abandoned vehicle is reported to the local office, or has been identified by a member of staff during the course of their duties, the local staff will contact local police to ask that they check whether it has been abandoned or not. If the police confirm that the vehicle has been abandoned the council will serve a 7 day notice on the vehicle and, on expiry of the 7 days, remove the vehicle.
Attempts will be made to identify the owner of the caravan by making enquiries in the locality. If the owner is identified, the Community Based Housing Officer will explain that they are in breach of their tenancy agreement, the action they should take to resolve the situation, and the possible con- sequences of failing to comply with their tenancy agreement.
If no owner can be identified, the details will be passed to the local police to request that they check whether it has been abandoned.
You will need to get permission to run any kind of business from the property. The conditions that will apply to any permission given are intended to:
- To minimise nuisance and disruption to the neighbours
- To promote the safety of the neighbours
- To protect the property
Find out how to apply for building warrants, letters of comfort and other information from Building Standards.
When can permission be given?
Permission will only be given if:
- The business would not lead to a significant increase in vehicles using the street or vehicles parking in the street or neighbouring streets
- The hours of operation of the business are not significantly different from normal office hours
- The business is not likely to cause alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance to any person
- The business is not likely to cause damage to the property or any other property
- The business is not likely to cause any health or safety risk (for example, storage of materials which may increase the fire risk)
The following conditions will apply to any permission given:
- The tenant has discussed the proposed business with Building Standards, and either obtained the relevant permissions, or been advised that no permission is required
- The business is not run in an anti-social way. It must not cause alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance to any person
- The business does not lead to a significant increase in vehicles using the street
- The business does not lead to a significant increase in parked vehicles in the street or neighbouring street
- The business does not lead to an increased health or safety risk to the tenant's household or to anyone else.
If you have a garden then you are responsible for keeping it tidy. Failure to do so will result in West Lothian Council arranging to have the work done and re-charge you the full cost.
- Any grassed areas must be cut at least once every 4 weeks in the growing season.
- Hedges should not be allowed to overhang footpaths or get excessively tall.
- There should be no rubbish in the garden
West Lothian Council runs a garden maintenance scheme for elderly people and for people with disabilities. If you are interested in the scheme:
- Ask at your local office for an application form, or
- Call the Customer Service Centre on 01506 280000 for information and/or an application form.
If the house is in a terraced block of houses, you may be entitled to right of access around the end of the terrace to gain access to your back door. Please check with us whether you are entitled to such a right of access prior to crossing or entering your neighbour's/neighbours' property. If you have such a right of access it must be used sensibly and reasonably, and not as the sole means of access to your house, if there is a dispute over the right of access we are entitled to decide whether access is necessary. Before making our decision we will consult with you and the other residents. Our decision will be binding on you.
You should use this right of access sensibly and reasonably, for example:
- Access in bad weather,
- Putting your bin out and bringing it back in
- Access for tradesmen
- Taking gardening tools to and from your front garden
You must get written permission to store any flammable material or use Calor gas, paraffin or LPG (liquid paraffin gas) heater in the house. Any permission given will be subject to conditions relating to safety precautions.
The conditions that apply to any permission given are to promote the safety of your household, and your neighbours, and to protect the property.
When can permission be given?
- Permission will only be given for use of Calor Gas or LPG heaters if the house does not have central heating, or for a limited period if the heating system has broken down or there was a prolonged loss of supply.
- Permission will not be given to store anything that is excessively dangerous, flammable or explosive in the house or in any communal area or garden ground.
- Permission will not be given to store firearms and ammunition without a valid permit.
- Permission will not be given for use of paraffin appliances, due to safety considerations.
- Permission will not be given for any Calor gas or LPT appliances other than heaters.
The following conditions will apply to any permission given to use a Calor Gas heater:
- Only one spare cylinder could be kept at the property at any one time.
- Cylinders should not be stored in any communal area or on garden land.
- Empty cylinders should be disposed of appropriately and not stored at the property, in communal areas or on garden land.
- Heaters must be in good working order. The tenant must arrange for the heater to be serviced annually by a GAS SAFE registered engineer. Copies of the inspection report to be given to the local office to be kept on the tenancy file.
- Permission is only valid until central heating has been installed/restored at the property.