Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbours can make or break your tenant’s happy home and as a landlord, while you are not responsible for your tenant’s behaviour, the last thing you want is to receive complaints about them. 

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Landlords don’t want tenants who are nightmare neighbours, anymore than they want their tenants to have nightmare neighbours. Both scenarios create a lot of stress and result in needing to find a new tenant. Making sure you get your tenants referenced is one step you can take to make sure that your tenant isn’t the problem.

If your tenant turns out to be the problem in the neighbourhood, they’re more likely to become a problem for you too, so you should definitely make sure you have Rent Guarantee Insurance to cover yourself should your tenant stop paying. It will also cover the legal costs of eviction, so is a great support should you find yourself in need.  

So what is it that neighbours really fall out over?

What are common neighbour complaints?

  • Noise. While it’s to be expected that there will be some noise during the day and early evening, especially if you live in a block of flats or a terrace, consistent loud noise into the late evening and early hours of the morning is a massive pain to put up with
  • Parking. Especially in cities, parking can be incredibly stressful. Lots of properties come with designated parking, but this doesn’t always solve the problem if there are multiple cars per household or if people ‘steal’ your space
  • Maintenance. Lots of people are very house proud and put a lot of work into making sure their gardens and exterior of their homes are kept neat and tidy. It can therefore be upsetting if neighbours don’t do the same, especially if it means overgrown trees or bushes are encroaching on their space
  • Boundaries. Boundary disputes can get pretty heated and can cover anything from overgrown bushes and who owns the fence to drives and pathways where the division is unclear
  • Children and pets. Sadly, children and pets can cause tension if they make a lot of noise, stray into their neighbours’ space or send toys flying over the fence on a regular basis

While landlords aren’t legally responsible for their tenant’s behaviour, as it is your property, you are likely to be drawn in, either by complaints from the neighbours or by having to find a new tenant if yours decides they’ve had enough.

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So how can you smooth troubled waters or – better yet! – help avoid them all together!

Top tips for a happy neighbourhood 

  • Tenant Referencing. Make sure that you have done your due diligence when it comes to finding a new tenant. Ours is only £15 and includes previous rental history, so you are less likely to rent to someone who will cause a nuisance to the neighbours
  • Clarity. Make sure that your tenants are super clear on the boundaries of their property and their rights to parking. This way, they are unlikely to inadvertently step on anyone’s toes. They are also able to let the neighbours know if they are encroaching on your property in any way
  • Maintenance. Taking care of the property is your tenant’s responsibility, so make sure that they are aware of your expectations when it comes to the maintenance of the garden, for example
  • Contact. When you’re looking for a new buy-to-let, take the time to check out the area and have a chat with the neighbours, just like you would if you were buying a home to live in. This way, you’ll be alerted to any potential problems that might create a nightmare situation for a future tenant
  • Be open. If your tenant reaches out about a problem with the neighbours or a neighbour contacts you to complain about your tenant, it’s important to listen and act where you can. Perhaps you can advise your tenant to keep the noise down, as they didn’t realise how loud they were being? Or you could let the neighbour know about the legal boundaries of the property, so your tenant doesn’t have to argue with them?

When is a Landlord responsible for the tenants?

While you aren’t legally responsible for the actions of your tenant, it can be a bit of a grey area.

You are responsible for your tenant’s action if:

  • You rented to them, knowing they were a nuisance. This could mean that you rented to a drummer, knowing they’d be using the property as a rehearsal space, creating noise that would regularly disturb the neighbours. Or it could mean you knowingly rented to someone with a history of being a poor neighbour
  • You encouraged their nuisance behaviour. If the neighbours have complained that your tenant is a party animal and you’ve been over there attending and enjoying the party, when you should have been telling them to keep it down, you are involved in their anti-social behaviour

Anti-social behaviour isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a criminal offence, so it’s something you need to nip in the bud as quickly as possible.

What to do as a Landlord?

  • Be available. Remember you introduced yourself to the neighbours when you were looking for the property? Make sure that they also have your contact details so they can let you know if there are any issues.
  • Hear both sides. Just because you’ve had a complaint from a neighbour doesn’t mean your tenant is at fault, so don’t jump to conclusions and have a chat with the tenant to understand what is really going on. Work with your tenant to help clear up any misunderstandings as soon as possible to prevent ongoing tension
  • Check your tenancy agreement. Your tenancy agreement is your backup if it transpires that your tenant is the one at fault. There should always be a clause in there about noise or nuisance behaviour. Our Rent Guarantee Insurance comes with access to a legal advice helpline that is a godsend in such situations

Whether your tenant is the nightmare or is living it, as the landlord there will be a point where you will have to step in and sort the situation out if it can’t be done between them. Make sure you have the cover you need to get it sorted as soon as possible.

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