Even with the various checks and references you acquire before choosing to take on a tenant, there’s no guarantee as to how they will behave when living in your buy-to-let property. If their anti-social behaviour begins to disrupt the surrounding neighbours, it can become very easy for disputes to arise.
The question is, do landlords have a duty of care to these neighbours and are landlords responsible for nuisance tenants? From excessive noise, messy pets or boundary disputes, if your tenant causes a neighbour dispute, here’s what you can do to help rectify the situation.
Have you included a nuisance clause in the tenancy agreement?
Including a descriptive clause in the tenancy agreement concerning nuisances, will ensure that you are legally covered to take action should the dispute get out of hand. A tenancy agreement will contain each of your rules and regulations as a landlord, that the tenant has agreed to adhere to. If they cause a neighbour dispute, you will want to have the right to evict your tenant if they refuse or make no attempt to resolve the situation.
Here are a number of things to include in the tenancy agreement, that the tenant should implement to avoid neighbour disputes:
- Avoid excessive noise from media systems such as televisions and sound systems
- Carry out housework or DIY tasks during sociable hours
- Clean up after yourselves and your pets (if you are allowing pets)
- Try to keep your pet from making too much noise
- Make sure any children do not play within the common areas in the case of flats/apartments
What to do in the first instance
Landlords can only be legally responsible for nuisance caused by a tenant in limited circumstances but the actions of a tenant can reflect badly on you and affect your relations with neighbours and may result in complaints from neighbours. You may want to therefore take action to try and resolve the issue to avoid further aggravation from neighbours.
When the neighbour comes to you with their first complaint politely ask what steps they have taken to ask the tenant to stop the disruption. If the neighbour expresses that they have already spoken to the tenant, or that they are not comfortable with doing so, then you should look to speak with your tenant. Simply explain to them that a neighbour has made a complaint (avoid mentioning which neighbour specifically), as well as what the nuisance was and offer a solution to prevent it from happening again in the future.
What to do if the nuisance continues
If the tenant then makes no attempt to reduce the noise or other nuisance, you might find that the neighbour makes an additional complaint to you. In this case, you should then send a second copy of tenancy agreement to your tenant, referring to specific clauses that they may have breached.
Send a letter alongside the agreement, explaining why you are sending a copy of the agreement and what consequences the tenant could expect if the dispute continues.
Involve the neighbour themselves
You will find that in some cases, a tenant simply refuses to rectify the situation and as a result, further complaints arise. It’s then that you should ask the neighbour to begin recording the dates and times that each nuisance occurs, along with what the nuisance is and why they think it is happening.
If they are comfortable recording the nuisance, either through audio equipment, videos or images, then this will provide more evidence for a resolution further on down the line.
Take legal action
A neighbour dispute caused by your tenant can reflect badly on you as a landlord and could result in you being sued for your tenants actions in some situations, which is why the situation should not be allowed to continue when you are notified of an issue.
In the event of continued breaches of the tenancy agreement with regards to nuisance clauses then you may want to take action to evict the tenant due to breaches of the tenancy agreement and not making any attempt to reach a resolution.
How can our property solicitors help you?
If you’re looking to speak to a legal professional who specialises in residential property disputes, our team of expert property solicitors are here to lend a helping hand. From trespassing to nuisances, the property solicitors at Abacus Solicitors have dealt with all kinds of neighbour disputes. If you’re looking for advice on what steps to take in your own circumstances, feel free to get in touch with us today.