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Firstly I would like to say how helpful I find this forum and thank you all for all past advice.
I will try to be as brief as possible. I have a downstairs neighbour of one of my properties who is constantly complaining about the noise from my tenants.
I originally gave the letting agent (tenant find only) permission to give her my number and she texted me to say that the tenants were smoking and talking loudly outside her baby's window. I asked them to stop and they complied and all was well for a while.
Then she started texting saying they were walking around in the middle of the night and coming and going and banging their front door shut. Unfortunately, due the construction of the property noise would travel and I believe she can hear them.
The tenants are four guys who work shifts as chefs. They start and finish work at all hours so there is a lot of getting ready for work and coming and going to work. It does not help they are quite heavyset gentlemen.
They are very good tenants who always pay on time and keep the property in good state of repair and cleanliness. They are always very polite and respectful when I speak to them and promise to try and keep the noise down even more each time.
Things have escalated to the point where the neighbour has phoned me some time ago to say that one time when her husband knocked on the door to ask them to keep the noise down they answered it with a baseball bat. The tenant says that he was shocked to get a knock on the door at the time of the night and dropped the baseball bat as soon as he saw it was them.
Since then I now get texts all the time complaining about noise, that there were more people then the original four staying there (of which I found no evidence of), that they shout and scare her kids when they play in the garden and that they pour grease down the drain which blocks it and backs up into her garden.
On the few occasions that I have spoken to her she seemed really nice and almost apologetic. Saying that she fires off the angry texts when she or her baby or her kids are woken up during the night. I really do sympathise with her. I know how frustrating it can be to put a baby down for the night only to be woken up by noisy neighbours.
Because I felt sorry for her I took steps, firstly I got rid of very expensive and very nice wood flooring and got carpets laid. I hoped it would help but does not have seemed to.
Then I spoke to an environmental officer who stated that unfortunately due to modern working and lifestyle needs that noise made by people coming from or going to work at all hours was just a fact of life. There was not much that they or I could do about it. He advised me to tell the neighbour to treat the tenants as if they owned the property and take steps that they would normally take if there was no landlord to complain to.
I did just that. In fact, she laughingly made the observation that she was aware that it could be a lot worse. She herself said that "what if they were a bunch of students playing music at all hours". She is really nice when I speak to her on the phone and in person.
After getting fed up after loads of texts and just to appease her I made the mistake of telling her that I would look into evicting them. My thoughts at the time were to keep the neighbours happy at all costs.
Since then I have been made redundant and the rental income is my sole source of income. If the tenant did, in turn, decide to make things difficult and stopped paying the rent, following an eviction notice, I would not be able to afford a lengthy eviction process. Besides why should I get rid of perfectly decent tenants as far as I am concerned.
Another thing that changed my mind about evicting them was when I received a text from her saying that they were away for a few days so she did not know how much noise the tenants had made while they were away. This seemed a bit strange to me.
She texted me again this morning saying they were up all night making noise and also she gave my number to another neighbour who asked what I was going to do do about them and when they could expect these tenants to be evicted.
Basically I am asking what my legal obligations are. Was the advice I was given by the environmental officer wrong?
Your insights and stories of similar situations and what you did to remedy it would be welcome.
If you more information or more detail please ask.
Its difficult without knowing the layout - construction of the property, but are there any other neighbours that could be approached to either verify, or, dispute your complaining tenants account. ?
Environmental Health are the authority who are responsible for noise complaints.
The answer they've seemed to give you is what I'd suggest is ' passing you off ' - spinning you a line etc.
Ultimately, Enviro Health should if appropriate, install sound monitoring device in the flat that will confirm to the decibell the noise level.
But its for your complaining tenant to take up with Env Health, she is the complainant that will have to lodge the complaint and provide evidence, not you. If her complaint is substantiated by Envir Health, they will take action against your other tenants.
This is a difficult one and I've been the one several times as the person downstairs from the noise. It was a nightmare.
4 guys working shifts sounds like the X guys who moved in above mine working shifts as taxi drivers. Washin machine going at 4 in the morning etc.
Was their a tenant in your flat before, or a people living there and how was that group made up.
If you were to evict this lot who's to say who moved in would be better?
You've created an HMO by having more than 2+ unrelated people in there - were you aware of this and/or is this the doing of the Letting Agent?
You will have to move them on or ask some to move out to comply, which may not be what you want to hear but the council noise team may already have been called and this may not end well for you.
Thanks for your prompt replies.
Chris I'm sorry I think that my post was maybe not clear enough. It's not my tenants that complaining about the noisy neighbour but the other way round. On the contrary, I was very happy with the answer that that I got from the environmental officer . The post was becoming too long so I edited some details. I had actually asked an environmental officer who was a friend of a friend working for an unrelated council. Then suspecting that he was just telling me what I wanted to hear I asked again contacting the council in the borough the property is located. He also gave me the same answer.
Adam, your reply has got me a little bit more worried with regards to unwittingly creating a HMO. Again, trying to keep the post short I left out some information. The letting agent at the time, no longer trading but were very good and very professional, did not warn me that I was going into HMO territory. The lead tenant and second tenant who's names are on the AST are brothers who were sharing the flat with two other friends. It was the lead tenant and his brother who was solely responsible for the payment of the rent. Since then one of the friends have moved out and there is only three of them in there now.
Until your reply I thought I was on solid ground legally but was just asking what you guys would do morally as I do sympathise with the neighbour and I wish there was a solution to this without having the to kick out perfectly good tenants. It has been getting harder and harder to find good tenants lately.
So it's 2 related (brothers) + one unrelated friend?
I'll have to pass that one over to someone with more legal knowledge on HMOs than me.
If there's 3 people in there doing shift work, that sounds like more than enough ;->
Unfortunately you've learnt a lesson about trusting Letting Agents here, which for me is another nail in the coffin for ever trusting them again.Well done for voicing your problem on here, sure you'll have it all answered before long.
There are 3 people in 2 households which is an HMO. Just because it is an HMO it does not necessarily require a licence. You need to check if the local council have implemented an additional licensing scheme. Even if a licence is not required, you will still need to comply with all the regulations surrounding fire safety, managing regulations etc.
Have you thought about asking your tenants to allow you to install some sound monitoring equipment so you can see how much noise is being made?
Suggest to neighbour she installs sound insulation in her flat, eg suspended ceiling. you did your bit laying carpets. hard floors in flats very bad idea and modern leases prohibit it.
You have no obligation to the neighbour at all as long as:
1. you have not breached a term of your lease by installing wooden floors; or
2. you have not encouraged the tenants to annoy the neighbour.
You are certainly not obliged to evict the tenants. In general, landlords are not responsible for the behaviour of their tenants and this is a matter between the tenants and your neighbour.On the related question, yes it is an HMO. Whether it is licensable or not depends on the local authority and what additional licensing schemes they operate
Thank you all for your advice.
There is good case law which confirms that a landlord cannot be held responsible for nuisance caused by tenants. If you are interested I can look up the case.
Hope that helps.