What should I do if my tenant disturbs the neighbours?
When you let a property finding tenants, or rather finding the right tenants, is so important. Naturally enough as a private landlord, it's in your interest to find someone who will pay the rent on time and who will take care of your property. You go to a lot of time and trouble to check references, conduct credit checks and filter out those tenants who may cause issues. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out.
The ideal tenant you installed into your property may turn out to be anything but. Even if you aren’t the one being inconvenienced.
The tenant may pay their rent. They may look after the property. But they can still cause problems by disturbing the neighbours. And if the neighbours complain to you it then becomes your problem.
Why is it my responsibility?
As a private landlord, you aren't legally responsible for your tenant’s behaviour. If they are causing a nuisance or disturbing the neighbours you aren't accountable. But that doesn't mean you should just turn a blind eye to the neighbours’ complaints.
Why you should listen to the neighbours
Everyone needs to enjoy a healthy relationship with their neighbour. Just as everyone has a right to live in peace in their own home. And your neighbours should be important to you even if you don't live in the property. There will still be occasions when you need their goodwill and they will be able to keep an eye on the property for you when it's empty.
You may also know the neighbours personally. If the property you're letting is your former home you will already have a relationship with them. Hopefully, it's a good one. But even if you purchased the property as an investment a good relationship with the neighbours is important. This is why you should take any complaint about your tenant seriously.
How to prevent your neighbours from being disturbed
You can't exactly mount drive-by patrols to monitor noise or keep your tenant under 24/7 surveillance. So what can you do to prevent anti-social behaviour?
Prevention is always better than cure so be proactive. Set expectations and boundaries before the tenant moves into the property. Use the tenancy agreement to spell out the tenant's responsibilities.
Include a clause which explicitly states your tenant agrees not to create excessive noise or indulge in any behaviour which is likely to cause distress to the neighbours. Make sure the tenant is aware of the consequences if they break these terms.
What to do if you receive a complaint
Your first cause of action should be to ask the neighbour to approach the tenant. Talking can often resolve problems. But if the neighbour is reluctant to approach the tenant, or has already tried with no result you will have to take the lead.
Contact the tenant, preferably in person. There are always two sides to every story though do remind your tenant of their responsibilities. But do try to be understanding. Your tenant may be blameless. But if you suspect the tenant is causing problems, try to mediate a solution.
If that doesn't work you should send the tenant a copy of the tenancy agreement highlighting the clause about anti-social behaviour. Explain to your tenant they are risking eviction if the behaviour continues.
If the problems persist you should ask the neighbour to gather evidence against the tenant. This should be in the form of a diary supported by photos and video if applicable detailing the disruption. Give any evidence to the local Environmental Health Department. They will investigate and if they find the problem exists you could take steps to evict the tenant for breaking their tenancy agreement.
Alternatively, if the timing is right you may be able to serve a Section 21 notice and resolve the issue through a no-fault eviction. This is far less hassle than serving a Section 8 notice.
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