Just like your family, you don’t get to choose who moves next door to you- whether it be a tenant or a home owner, there is a strong chance at some point neighbours will have a disagreement. As a landlord it can be a tricky situation to deal with. With regards to RLA guidelines it is a grey area whether a landlord has a duty of care towards neighbours as this differs for every situation. For example, if a landlord lets to a tenant who has a history of anti-social behaviour then the landlord would be responsible for the ‘nuisance’ tenant. There are a few different ways to deal with or prohibit any disagreements between neighbours that may support landlords:
- Ensure any problems are dealt with before they escalate- check the tenancy agreement is robust and clearly prohibits any anti-social behaviour. This is often legally described as, ‘Nuisance or Annoyance’ behaviour.
- Descriptive clauses are a great tool within a tenancy agreement in order to set boundaries and clear expectations from a tenant. These could include; watching TV or listening to music at a reasonable volume, keeping gardens or communal areas tidy and free of any animal mess (if you choose to allow pets) and also only carrying out DIY at sociable hours.
- A simple yet effective tool is to ask the aggrieved tenant or neighbour if they have spoken to the other about the problem. Quite often this is not the case and a dispute can be solved by simply informing the other party. Regularly this is due to the perpetrator being oblivious to their actions and the distress they may have caused.
- If this does not work, as a landlord, it may be best practice to control the situation by acting as a ‘peacemaker’ in order to try and resolve any situation that may have arose.
- If a problem persists to occur then the best practice would be to ensure evidence is kept throughout any disturbances. The RLA and Citizens Advice suggest this with the addition of adding times and dates to any situations occurring. Evidence can be kept as a written log or through the use of pictures/videos.
- Finally, if all of the above have failed to resolve the situation then you may want to go down the route of mediation using a third-party company.
This is a cheaper alternative than going down the court route and helps neighbours deal with their disputes rather than having expensive court bills at the end of it.