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Department of Human Services

South Australian Housing Trust

Disruptive behaviour policy

The purpose of this policy

This policy sets out how Housing SA will investigate, manage and respond to complaints about disruptive behaviour at a public housing property. Housing SA aims to:

  • minimise the impact of disruptive behaviour on residents and neighbours
  • engage in early intervention and prevention strategies
  • help tenants maintain their tenancy whenever possible by meeting their responsibilities under their lease agreement with Housing SA.

What is considered to be disruptive behaviour

The person who signed the lease agreement, also known as the Conditions of Tenancy, with Housing SA is responsible for the behaviour of anyone living at or visiting their home.

Disruptive behaviour includes:

  • behaviour that unreasonably or repeatedly interferes with the peace, comfort and privacy of other neighbours and residents
  • behaviour that causes or is likely to cause serious property damage
  • threats, intimidation, assaults or other frightening behaviour towards anyone on or near the property, including Housing SA staff and contractors.

Noise and activity associated with daily life isn't considered to be disruptive behaviour.

How Housing SA responds to complaints

Investigating and substantiating a complaint

Housing SA will begin investigating all complaints within:

  • two working days if the complaint is serious
  • seven working days for all other complaints.

When investigating a complaint Housing SA will:

  • contact and talk to all parties involved
  • treat all parties fairly
  • give all parties the chance to state their side of the situation
  • seek extra information if needed from other agencies - eg SA Police (SAPOL)
  • refer people to mediation or support services where appropriate
  • inform the person making the complaint of the outcome of the investigation.

In some situations the matter may be outside Housing SA's jurisdiction. In these situations, Housing SA will refer the person making the complaint to the appropriate agency - eg reporting criminal activity to SAPOL, reporting barking dogs to the local council. Housing SA's response to a complaint of disruptive behaviour will depend on:

  • the seriousness of the behaviour
  • how often it happens
  • how it impacts on neighbours, residents and the community.

If Housing SA investigates and finds that a complaint is most likely to be accurate, the complaint is considered to be substantiated.

Assessing the seriousness of the behaviour

Housing SA rates behaviour as either:

  • minor - eg loud music, car parking disputes
  • moderate - eg domestic disputes, intimidating behaviour, verbal abuse
  • serious - eg serious damage to property, threats to life, health or safety, and the frequency of disruptive behaviour at any rating level.

When assessing the seriousness of the behaviour, Housing SA will consider how often it occurs. Minor or moderate disruptive behaviour is considered to be serious when it occurs on a regular basis.

Housing SA will also consider:

  • the intent and wilfulness of the disruption
  • the impact on neighbours
  • if the disruption was a result of other issues requiring support.

Verbal and written warnings

Housing SA will give tenants a verbal warning, also known as a step, if the disruption is minor or moderate, and isn't happening frequently.

Housing SA will give tenants a written warning, also known as a strike, if the disruption is either:

  • serious
  • minor or moderate and happening frequently.

Housing SA may require a tenant to sign an Acceptable Behaviour Contract when a written warning is issued. This is a contract between Housing SA and the tenant that sets out what behaviour is disruptive and strategies to manage it.

Verbal and written warnings remain active for six months.

Housing SA may take action to end the tenancy of a tenant who has received three written warnings.  If Housing SA determines the behaviour is serious and extreme, immediate action may be taken without issuing a written warning. 

Transfers of disruptive tenants or other tenants who contribute to the disruption

Housing SA won't approve a transfer application from a disruptive tenant or any other neighbouring tenant who has significantly contributed to the disruption.

Housing SA may initiate a transfer with the approval of the relevant Regional Manager provided the tenant agrees to the below conditions:

  • sign an Acceptable Behaviour Contract or case plan
  • actively engage with appropriate supports.

The tenant can't choose which property or area they are transferred to. They will be offered another property on a probationary lease agreement. If the tenant refuses to transfer, Housing SA can take action to end the tenancy.

Exclusion from services

Tenants and household members found to be directly involved in disruptive behaviour will be excluded for 12 months from registering for or living in public housing. This includes anyone who:

  • was evicted because of disruptive behaviour
  • left the property after Housing SA had started the eviction process
  • had a lease agreement with Housing SA terminated or not extended
  • left the property with an active, serious and substantiated disruptive complaint.

Once the exclusion period has finished, Housing SA will only accept a registration for public housing if the former tenant or household member can show that they can live independently and maintain a tenancy. They will only be rehoused if they meet Housing SA's conditions that include agreeing to and keeping a support plan or acceptable behaviour contract.

Related laws, policies and documents

Controlling documents

This policy is based on and complies with:

Supporting procedures

  • Disruptive behaviour procedures v 7.3

Related policies and other documents

Date this policy applies from

30 March 2016

Version number


The online version of the policy is the approved and current version. There is no guarantee that any printed copies are current.

State Government of South Australia © Copyright DHS .

Provided by:
SA Department for Human Services
Last Updated:
05 Jul 2018
Printed on:
16 Dec 2018
The DHS website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016