In an ideal world when renting out your property, everything would always go according to plan—your property would be matched up with the perfect tenant and you would face no problems throughout the duration of their tenancy. In reality, despite the deep dive you (or your letting agent) may have conducted to confirm a tenant’s eligibility and credibility, sometimes things can go slightly south and that’s (unfortunately) just the way the cookie crumbles.
You may well just be responsible to bear the brunt of some of your tenant’s behaviour…
A tenancy turning sour can’t always be anticipated and is often beyond a landlord’s control. On the other hand—however, blindsided a landlord may feel due to a tenant’s actions—they still have a duty of care to their tenant and a level of responsibility to govern a tenant’s behaviour and ensure all parties are upholding their obligations as per the Tenancy Agreement.
Am I Responsible For A Tenant’s Behaviour – As A Landlord?
Noisy Tenant’s Behaviour
A noisy tenant’s behaviour can be their neighbour’s worst nightmare and is up there as one of the most common grievances raised by adjoining properties or those who live nearby. Whilst noise made during the daytime can still be challenging, for the most part, it tends to be overlooked. However, if this same noise is made at night, it is understandably poorly received and largely regarded as unacceptable.
In many instances, long-term noisy tenant’s behaviour can be dealt with amicably between a tenant and their neighbour without a landlord’s intervention, but in some cases, it is sadly not that simple. Sometimes, a neighbour will be left with no choice but to escalate a noise complaint to the landlord (or letting agent), due to an ongoing issue remaining unresolved despite attempts to sort things out directly with a tenant.
At this point, it is the landlord’s responsibility (and in their best interests) to step in and identify the root cause of any issues. When faced with this situation, it’s advisable not to jump the gun or appear to be taking sides as it is best for a landlord to build and maintain a positive relationship with their tenant.
That said, an ideal course of action is to encourage open communication with the tenant by explaining to them what the neighbour has said and asking to hear their side of the story. This will help to gain a better understanding of the bigger picture and gives a landlord the opportunity to establish how their tenant intends to rectify the situation and if they are stuck, offer advice on some possible solutions.
There are many ways that a tenant can display antisocial behaviour towards their neighbours. Some of the most common examples are:
- Inconsiderate or dangerous parking (e.g., blocking driveways or public pathways)
- Waste issues – overflowing bins and dumping waste
- Invasion of privacy
- Acts of violence
- Being aggressive when approached with complaints
Much like in the case of noisy tenant’s behaviour, it can sometimes be difficult for issues to be resolved peacefully between a tenant and their neighbour, as they are too close to the situation. However, a landlord has a duty of care first and foremost to their tenant and for this reason, before taking any action or jumping to conclusions — the first step should always be to have an open conversation with the tenant to better understand the situation and if it a tenant has already attempted to resolve the issue themselves, a landlord could offer to step in and act as an intermediary between the two parties, to ensure matters are resolved and to prevent them from escalating further.
Is the Tenant Definitely to Blame?
No matter what, a tenant’s behaviour should be taken seriously.
But, a landlord should always act in the best interests of their tenant, above any third party such as a neighbour. Therefore, one of the main considerations a landlord should make is:
- Is the neighbour being completely truthful?
- Does the neighbour hold liability for the cause of conflict?
- Is the tenant truly to blame?
If the complaints received from a neighbour seem vague or in contrast to the tenant you have come to know, then this could be a red flag. Ask yourself:
- Does this sound like something my tenant would do?
If a landlord speaks to their tenant and is advised that it is in fact the neighbour who is the aggressor in a situation regarding noise or antisocial tenant’s behaviour, it is the landlord’s duty of care to the tenant to ensure that any disturbances are dealt with in line with their rights as a private tenant. Beyond offering to personally act as a mediator, if a landlord wishes to keep themselves at a professional distance from the tenancy or simply does not have the time, they can use a mediation service.
Alternatively, they may advise the tenant to keep an accurate record of any problems and if the situation still does not improve then a landlord may be required to contact the local authority or even seek legal action.
Breaking the Terms of the Tenancy Agreement Because Of The Tenant’s Behaviour
On the other hand, if it later transpires that the tenant is in fact the perpetrator behind any conflict, a landlord should be able to fall back on the Tenancy Agreement, as there is generally a clause that covers ‘noise’ or ‘nuisance’ which clearly explains a tenant’s obligations whilst living at the property. Again, it is always important to try and salvage the tenant-landlord relationship as much as possible, as it is in everyone’s best interests to stay on good footing, so rather than allow any disputes to contribute to a relationship breakdown, this is a landlord’s opportunity to clearly and concisely address any rules and regulations that have been broken and how.
Equally, breaches of the Tenancy Agreement work both ways and it is important that a landlord ensures that they are also adhering to their obligations under the Tenancy Agreement, no matter the tenant’s behaviour currently.
Read more about this in our article What are my maintenance responsibilities as a landlord?
It’s times like this where a landlord could really benefit from working with a reliable letting agent, to help to remove any of the friction that can come with some of the downsides to being a landlord and keep a professional distance between the landlord and the tenancy. For more information on how Abbey Property may be able to assist you, have a read of our article What Is The Worth In Using A Letting Agent?
I appreciate that the scenarios discussed above as potential causes for disruption and conflict are not pleasant to consider and much like an ostrich – it can seem easier to simply bury your head in the sand and think if you ignore the possibility of encountering these issues with your tenant, then they will never occur. If only life was that simple. Ideally, being a landlord is smooth sailing from the beginning to the end of a tenancy, but at times it can feel like a minefield and the lines between a tenant and a landlord’s rights as well as responsibilities can become blurred.
For more information on landlord’s rights, take a read of our article My Rights As A Landlord.
The best way to help avoid having the sole-responsiblity of being responsible for your tenant’s behaviour is to take on a letting agent to oversee these issues on your behalf.
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