Complaints made by neighbours about tenants need to be treated with caution and the following points carefully considered:

  • You (the landlord) are not liable for the behaviour of the tenant or their visitors and any nuisance they may cause – the tenant and any visitors are responsible for their own behaviour.
  • Sympathise with the neighbour and remind the neighbour you are not liable for the tenant’s behaviour. Suggest to the neighbour that they raise the issue direct with the tenant. If the occupier of the property was an owner-occupier, who would the neighbour complain to?
  • If the neighbour has raised the issue with the tenant to no avail they should report the noise to the local council. The council will investigate and determine whether there is a noise nuisance and if so what action needs to be taken. Councils can investigate complaints of statutory nuisance and have powers to tackle noise produced at any time of day or night. They may also issue warning notices in response to complaints about noise above permitted levels from 11pm to 7am.
  • Any action brought under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act or Environmental Protection Act would reasonably be brought against the tenant, not the landlord.
  • When a complaining neighbour eventually sells their property, they have a legal obligation to provide details of any disputes or complaints regarding a property nearby on the Property Information Form. Failure to provide details of disputes with, or complaints about, a property nearby could leave the seller open to expensive legal action. By preventing would be buyers from making an informed choice, the complaining neighbour (now seller) has effectively committed fraud.
  • You could politely advise your tenant that a neighbour is concerned about noise and, just in case the neighbour gets the council involved, they would be wise to be careful about noise. However, before contacting the tenant consider the following:
  1. A tenant is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property – free from interference from the landlord. The landlord, using information provided by the neighbours, may be perceived to be using the neighbours to gather intelligence about the tenant which is tantamount to harassment.
  2. The version of events reported to the landlord will be the neighbour’s and may not be the same as the tenant’s version and may not be an accurate recollection of what actually occurred. The neighbour may give a version of events that reflects a grievance or bias they have against the tenant (or tenants in general).
  3. Informing the tenant that ‘a neighbour’ has made a complaint is not good for neighbourhood relations, creates suspicion (which neighbour went behind the tenant’s back?) and may create some ill-feeling and may even cause the tenant to leave.
  4. The problem may be the neighbour and not the tenant, so losing the tenant may not solve the problem as the neighbour complains about the next tenant.

Further Reading

Report a noise nuisance to your local council

Noise nuisance: how councils deal with complaints

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