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I've had noise complaints - shall I get involved?

Question

My tenants haven’t caused me any problems, but I have had recent complaints from neighbours they are getting a bit too fond of a party – it’s causing upset, and I only expect it to get worse with the World Cup! Is this something I need to get involved with?

Answer

Noise management is a really difficult issue to address – what is considered unbearable for one person could simply be the radio playing to another. So, this is quite a tricky situation to manage.

If your tenants are not causing you any other issues and are otherwise behaving well and treating your property as you would like, it is understandable that you would not want to rock the boat unnecessarily if the problem is not major, however, if they really are causing undue issues, this does need to be addressed.

However, how do you assess if the situation has become more than the odd get together, and mores the point, what do you do about it?

Have a quiet word

If a neighbour has alerted you to the issue, it has become your problem, so you should be putting a plan in place to attempt to rectify the situation of possible. Start by having a casual chat with your tenant, mentioning to them that you have had a report (don’t mention where from!) that things may have been getting a little rowdy. Keep it light and friendly, and ask them to maybe tone it down after a set time so that they don’t disturb the neighbours. Follow this conversation up with an email so you have a paper trail of the conversation.

Keep everyone in the loop

Make sure you keep the neighbours informed of the chats you have had with the tenants, so that they know that you have acted on their complaint.Try and get evidence of the noise yourself

If there is no change in the behaviour, you may need to consider taking the next step in the process – gathering evidence of the behaviour in action. You may need to enlist the original complainants help for this!

Ask the neighbour to keep a diary of the noise, if there are any patterns forming, and if they can gather any recordings of the issue – most mobile phones now have a recording device which will suffice, it’s just to get an idea of the level of noise that they are suffering in their home.

Hand the information over to the authorities

Once you have this evidence it can then be presented to the Environmental Health Department of your Local Authority. This department has a duty to deal with any noise that is considered to be a statutory nuisance, so they may decide to either take matters into their own hands or squash the issue once and for all.

If the EHD decide that the noise does class as a statutory nuisance, but the tenants still continue to carry on in the same manner, you are able to serve them notice under the grounds of anti-social behaviour.

How to evict

If, in a worst case scenario, you have no option but to serve notice on your tenants, you have the option to either serve a section 8 notice under the grounds of anti-social behaviour, or a section 21 notice after 6 months of the tenancy (you must give notice two months before). The Section 21 eviction is a very valuable concession for landlords as it allows for no-fault (no reason required) eviction of tenants, but recent changes in the law means it is more difficult to use Section 21 so make sure you have followed the correct processes from the start of the tenancy.

Be clear with everyone from the start

If your property is in a built up residential area, make it clear to your tenants that all night raves are not acceptable behaviour. You could consider inserting a clause into your tenancy agreement that dictates that your tenants must not make unnecessary noise that may disturb neighbours, and even outline what is classed as ‘unnecessary’.

Also be sympathetic towards the neighbours of the property. Disputes are not pleasant, and it is always more useful to have the neighbours on side instead of working against you. If you can show that you are taking steps to look into their complaint, and act on it if required, you will help maintain the good relationship into the future.



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