Nuisance Neighbours and your Rights

Difficult Neighbours: What To Do

Moving into a new property can often be an exciting process, but it also can bring about stress. With paperwork, bills, unpacking and much more to be concerned with, the last thing anyone needs is nuisance neighbours.

But whose responsibility is it to deal with the problematic tenants next door?

As a new tenant you might feel uncomfortable and feel as though you are driving a wedge between yourself and your neighbour. Even if you have lived in the property for a while, it might feel awkward to complain.

Don’t worry – there are a range of actions you can take to deal with your problem neighbours.

Who Would Be Considered Nuisance Neighbours?

Any sort of behaviour within or around the properties concerned that would be classed by authorities as ‘anti-social’ creates grounds for action.

From frequent loud music to constant excessive littering – anything which causes regular problems for yourself and/or other neighbours is classed as a nuisance.

What To Do About Noisy Neighbours

If the issue you are having with your neighbour is regarding excessive noise such as loud late-night music, then simply chatting to them in an informal manner would be your first step.

They might not even realise that you can hear their music from your property, or that it is bothering you.

Give them the benefit of the doubt and talk to them first – hopefully this will do the trick, meaning no further action is necessary.

Recurring Problems

If politely requesting that your neighbours refrain from being too loud doesn’t work, then it may be necessary to contact their landlord in order to prevent the disturbance from continuing.

Be sure to make this contact in writing so your complaint is well documented in case further action is necessary in the future.

Once their landlord is aware of the ongoing issue it is their duty to resolve it to the best of their ability.

The landlord may simply explain that their actions are creating a nuisance for neighbours, or they may decide that they need to escalate the complaint to a higher authority.

Serious Anti-Social Behaviour

Although loud music or noise is very annoying, there are some tenants in rented properties who will completely disregard the presence of other tenants and neighbours by committing more serious anti-social behaviours.

If the property which you rent is being damaged by nuisance neighbours, or you don’t feel comfortable verbally discussing the problem with them due to the nature of the issue, then it would be best to go immediately to their landlord.

If possible, send photographic evidence of your neighbour’s anti-social behaviour on to their landlord. It might be a good idea to make your landlord aware of the problems too.

Anti-social behaviours which would warrant this response from you could include:

  • Damaging the property, for example graffiti or breaking windows
  • Theft of outside property such as gates, benches, letterboxes
  • Verbal threats or abuse towards you or other occupants of your property

If their landlord decides to take action, they can apply for an injunction against the anti-social tenant. An injunction will explicitly prohibit them from acting in the way they have been, ensuring that if they breach it they face imprisonment.

What If Their Landlord Refuses To Help?

Unfortunately, there are landlords who deny that it is their responsibility to deal with nuisance tenants.

In this case, you should report your neighbours to your local council.

The Environmental Health Department can assist you with problems like noise issues, littering, and incorrect disposal of rubbish such as fly-tipping.

If you are experiencing a more urgent or serious problem with your neighbour, it is advisable that you contact the police.

Under Part One of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, members of the police force are able to prosecute perpetrators of “housing-related nuisance or annoyance”, so if the problem becomes severe this is the direction to take.

Why Might the Landlord Fail to do Anything?

Your neighbour’s landlord might not take action against their tenant for the following reasons;

  • They decide the behaviour of the tenant is not unreasonable enough
  • They feel the complaining tenant was being too sensitive or the occurrences were unavoidable
  • The incidents are not happening frequently enough, for example if your neighbour plays loud music every other weekend
  • There are difficulties proving the anti-social behaviour, such as loud noise during the night

My Neighbour is Committing Crimes

Criminal activity happens all around us, but when it stares you in the face every day it becomes a nuisance.

Serious illegalities such as growing, selling or smoking cannabis, or partaking in or organising prostitution are problems which should be dealt with immediately by the landlord, who should report it to the police.

Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 states “A person commits an offence if, being the occupier or concerned in the management of any premises, he knowingly permits or suffers any of the following activities to take place on those premises.”

This essentially means that if a landlord is aware that criminal activities are happening and they fail to do anything about it, they themselves are actually at risk of being arrested.

Taking Legal Action against Nuisance Neighbours

If you have exhausted all attempts at talking to your nuisance neighbour and their landlord, you can consider taking official legal action.

In the case of noisy neighbours, the council can issue a ‘noise abatement’ order which will lead to a fine of £5,000 if the tenant fails to comply.

Please note: currently, our solicitors can not advice you on claims regarding noisy neighbours.

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