My tenants are disturbing the neighbours. What can I do?

Question

My neighbours have complained to me about how noisy my tenants are. What action should I take?

Answer

Now that the weather is turning cold we’re all inside more and noise pollution can be more acute, especially in flats, semis and terraced properties.

However, the neighbours cannot blame or claim against you for tenant noise. In most cases a human being cannot be held responsible for the actions of another human being.

But do empathise with the neighbours, and take it seriously as neighbour disputes can be very unpleasant, so the more you can mitigate against things spiralling down the better. It is always best to keep on good terms with neighbours whether you live in the property or not.

Like with so many aspects of a tenancy it’s important to be clear about your expectations in the tenancy agreement. Have a clause that your tenants must agree not to make unnecessary noise or nuisance that may result in stress being caused to neighbouring residents.

What to do in practice

1. Find out in as much details as possible about what type of problems your neighbours are having

2. Encourage your neighbour to take it up with your tenant

3. If they have tried this approach, or are unwilling to try, then you should communicate with your tenant:
Give the tenant a call and explain the situation and let them know you are going to send something in writing. Keep it pleasant and amicable. Send a copy of the tenancy agreement (highlighting the noise clause if included) and explain, in a nice way, the repercussions of if they breach that clause (possible eviction).

You may wish to outline in a little more detail the actual problem and make practical suggestions for example:

Music/Musical Instruments

Please avoid placing sound emitting appliances next to shared walls and turn down the noise level after 11pm to ensure noise can’t be heard by neighbours. Try not to play musical instruments in the room adjoining a shared wall if possible. If not, please be considerate about the time of day that the instrument is played.

General Noise

It’s appreciated that it’s not always easy with boisterous, excitable children, but please can you ask them to play in a way that is considerate to neighbours. Please also keep shouting to a minimum


DIY/Housework

Please consider the time of day chosen to carry out housework, DIY. Please inform the neighbours in advance if you are to carry out disruptive DIY work such as drilling, hammering etc.

Night noise

If going out or returning home late at night, please take extra care not to disturb neighbours through loud voices and slamming of car doors.

Animals

Please deal with dogs barking rather than leave them.

Parties/Friends Over

If having a party please inform the neighbours as far in advance as possible. If having a party or friends round, please keep the music down after 11pm and ask visitors to keep their voice levels down, so that neither disturb the neighbours.

4. If the above has no effect then you will need to enlist the neighbour’s help. They must keep a diary of days and times that the noise is occurring, any patterns and what they feel is the main cause of the noise. If they can use audio recording equipment to build evidence, they should. This will also help you ascertain how the tenants are behaving and whether you want to work towards evicting them.

5. If you choose, the evidence can then be presented to the Environmental Health Department in the Local Authority. By law, the local authorities have a duty to deal with any noise that they consider to be what’s known as a ‘statutory nuisance’.

The EHD are obliged to keep your/your neighbour’s identity confidential.The EHD will then assess the situation with all the proper evidence to hand. If they decide the noise is too loud and the tenants aren’t willing to do anything about it, you can take the necessary steps to terminate the tenancy. That will involve serving notice on the grounds of too much noise and anti-social behaviour.

6. You can of course issue 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. URBAN offer tenancy agreements as part of the Tenant Finder Premium package or as an extra to the Tenant Finder package, which includes a thorough clause on noise.

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