There’s nothing worse than a noisy neighbour, in fact noisy tenants with no volume control are one of the biggest causes of complaint to landlords.

But what are our tenants up to that is so loud? The most common complaints we hear at Howsy include:

  • Noise from pets
  • DIY
  • Parties / loud music
  • Shouting / Loud voices
  • Unattended car alarms

All very frustrating noises to live next door to.

However, there are some noises that, whilst possibly very maddening to listen to are not classed as anti-social behaviour and cannot be addressed by local authorities. These include:

  • Traffic, trains and planes
  • Children playing inside or outside the property
  • DIY activities during the daytime or early evening (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm / Saturdays 8am-1pm)
  • Noise resulting from the ordinary use of a property (Including footsteps, doors closing, toilets flushing, and household appliances being used during the day time and early evenings).
  • Fireworks before 11pm, except on certain dates (until midnight on 5 November, until 1am following the first day of Chinese New Year, until 1am on the day following Diwali day, until 1am on the day following 31 December)

But what can you do if your noisy tenant is causing upset? Before you start delivering ear plugs, there are a few options to try…

Who is responsible for noisy tenants?

Whilst as a landlord you do have plenty of legal responsibilities (you can read more about them here) you are under no legal obligation act on unnecessary noise complaints from a neighbour. However, it is in your best interest to ensure that neighbours are happy – after all, they are your eyes and ears and it is important to keep on their good side.   Wherever possible, it is always good to help smooth troubles waters if you can.

Whilst unlikely to contain a specific ‘noise clause’, some tenancy agreements will contain a clause requiring your tenant to not do anything in the property that causes them to be a ‘nuisance’, and all-night parties every evening would certainly contravene that clause. In this instance, you would be within your right to start section 21 proceedings against the tenant on the basis of a tenancy breach, eventually ending in eviction (however it is unlikely that many landlords would do so if the individual was an otherwise good tenant, and the party was a one-off)!

How to deal with noisy tenants

Very often, having a chat to your tenants can be the best first step to managing this issue. Keep things light and friendly, and mention to them that their actions are causing distress. They may not be aware that whilst they may find heavy metal relaxing to fall asleep to, their habit is causing their neighbours sleepless nights! Try and work with them to come up with a solution to the problem. For example, if the noise levels from their midnight trumpet practice are keeping everyone else awake, rather than demanding they stop entirely, ask if it would be possible for them to stop at 10pm – meet in the middle!

Popping them a message after your chat can be a good idea. A quick text to say ‘thanks for being so understanding about my noise concerns when we spoke earlier, hope your trumpet concert goes well!’ is simple and to the point, but reiterates the chat, and also gives you written and dated proof that the conversation took place.

This evidence is also useful if the causal chat doesn’t work and you need to move to the next step, involving the local council. Collecting evidence that you have tried to remedy the situation yourself is key, as is collecting as much detail about the noise as you can.

It can be difficult for official bodies to investigate noise nuisances, as often it can be sporadic and takes place at inconvenient hours. Making sure you ask the complainant to make clear audio recordings of the noise when it happens (recordings on a phone is fine) and logging the times and dates could be invaluable to a subsequent investigation.

What to do if you live next to a noisy tenant

If you are the suffering neighbour living next to a noisy tenant, contacting their private landlord, housing association or the freeholder can be a good place to start if you would like to elevate the situation. Whilst ideally you would give your neighbours a friendly knock and have a chat with them about the noise issues, in some cases it can be easier to alert the landlord immediately, and ask them to manage the situation on your behalf.

What if that doesn’t work?

If reasoning with the noisy tenant doesn’t work, the last resort would be to involve your Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department. Legally, this department has a responsibility to manage any noise disturbance that is considered to be a ‘statutory nuisance’ under the  Environmental Protection Act 1990, which includes anything which is considered to ‘unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises’ or ‘injure health or be likely to injure health’. However, they are reliant on evidence to process a case – so audio recordings, dates and details are vital here.

Once a case is underway, the occupier will receive a letter saying that they are the subject of an investigation regarding noise disturbance, however your identity as a complainant is kept confidential (many neighbours and landlords choose to skip straight to this route for this very reason). Having examined the evidence, if it is deemed that the noise problem is too loud and the tenant isn’t willing to do anything about it, the council can issue an abatement notice. This strict legal action instructs the individual to cease or limit noise it to certain time of day. A word of warning though, the abatement notice can be served on an individual or the owner of the property – potentially the landlord.

What if they do not stop?

The individual does have the right to appeal an abatement notice, but this is a strict 21-day window. If they do not launch an appeal in this time, they are not able to do so.

Once the individual has received an abatement notice from the council, it is a criminal office to fail to comply with the requirements set out in the notice. In the event of a breach of the notice, the recipient can face prosecution and a hefty fine.

Should it get to this stage, if the property is rented it is possible that the unsuspecting landlord could be facing bigger problems than a noisy tenant. There have been cases in the past of tricky tenants leaving a rental property, and disappearing, thus landing their unfortunate landlord with the fine from a breached abatement notice!

Howsy’s Top Tips

  • If you have a noisy neighbour, notify landlords and managing agents of any issues
  • Keep a clear record of the situation – recordings, dates and conversations
  • Raise issues to Environmental Health if not rectified
  • Be patient – Environmental Health can take up to 12 weeks to process a case
  • Closely monitor any tenants who are causing a noise nuisance – make sure they are abiding by the rules!

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