Are noisy neighbours a landlord’s responsibility?
Despite rigorous pre-tenancy checks, disruptive tenants can still be a problem, and noise ranks high on the list of neighbour complaints.
Noisy neighbours can make people’s lives a misery, especially in summer when, with the windows and doors wide open, and with everyone enjoying the outdoors, neighbours’ lives are suddenly being lived in full view – and sound – of each other.
But what if it’s your tenants that are proving to be the noisy nuisance in a neighbourhood? Is it your responsibility as their landlord to intervene?
In short, it usually isn’t, although there are some exceptions: for example when a landlord encourages the nuisance or deliberately turns a blind eye to it. You may also be responsible if you let the property out with knowledge of a nuisance, but this would only be in the case of leasing the property for use as, for example, a music venue…
You can’t be held liable under the common law of private nuisance as a participator in the nuisance simply because you did nothing to stop or discourage the tenant from or failed to attempt to prevent the nuisance.
So, while legally you’re rarely obliged to act, as the owner of a property where the problem is arising from, you do have a duty of care towards those who are being affected – after all you don’t want your tenant’s behaviour to reflect badly on you.
Plus, any disputes could harm your reputation and relationships with neighbours you may one day need on your side – you may need their permission to undertake works, or, perhaps you will be moving into the property in the future.
What can you do if your tenants are being noisy?
- Include an anti-social clause in the tenancy agreement that covers specific nuisances such as noise.
- If a neighbour comes to you complaining of a tenant’s noise encourage them to first speak to your tenants face-to-face – if they feel safe to do so.
- If they have spoken to your tenants and there has been no change in their behaviour, or the neighbours feel intimidated by your tenants, you may need to step in.
- Initially, write to them explaining the complaint (although keep the neighbours anonymous) outlining the clause of the tenancy agreement and explaining they are breaking their terms. Give them a chance to explain themselves and don’t assume the fault lies with them.
- If they continue to cause a nuisance, then you may have to draft in the neighbours again to keep a diary of the noise, they may even need to record excess noise.
- If the local authority decides that too much noise is being created by tenants unwilling to reduce it, you will be able to use this as grounds on which to terminate the tenancy.