Problems with my tenants' neighbours

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    Problems with my tenants' neighbours

    Hi

    I have a problem with the neighbours of a house that I own and rent to students, that I hope someone may be able to advise me on.

    The neighbours moved in about 4 years ago - a husband and wife with a young daughter. Since then they have made a couple of complaints a year regarding noise from the students in the house, which have been a different group each year. Generally the tenants have been apologetic and the issue has been resolved, but this year there have been three complaints and now there has been a written "Formal Complaint" to the management company who deal with the property, claiming that the house is being mismanaged and threatening to take action against me to gain compensation for work the husband missed due to lack of sleep. They are also claiming they will sue me if they have an accident while driving to work due to tiredness (which seems ridiculous to me).

    I know the agent is managing the property well and taking appropriate steps. The tenants were not having a party or even playing music, simply talking late at night, and are expressing concern as they don't think they are making much noise. They have even suggested that the neighbours contact the Environmental health Department to monitor the noise. Both the husband and to a lesser extent the wife appear to have anger management issues and they never seem to politely ask for the noise to be kept down, rather scream and swear in a very violent manner. One girl said she thought the wife was going to hit her on their last encounter, and the husband left a message on our answer machine once that terrified my wife.

    If the tenants were having loud parties and being very antisocial I would have full sympathy with the neighbours, as would the letting agents, but we've started to feel they are serial complainers and will make a fuss about every little noise they hear. Talking late at night a couple of times in 4 months doesn't equal noise pollution in my mind. I am also concerned that they are going to scare the tenants away and make the house unrentable in the future. Also I don't understand why a familly that does not like being disturbed buys a terraced house on a student street where roughly 50% of the houses are rented by students. Their own house was a student house when they bought it and we have owned our house for several years before they moved in.

    Does anyone know where I stand legally on this? It seems to me the best solution would be to get environmental health involved as the tenants are quite happy with that. If the noise is within appropriate levels is there anything we can do to prevent intimidating action from the neighbours? If the noise is unacceptable (which we very much doubt) we would of course do everything we can to rectify the problem, but would the neighbours be able to take legal action against us in any way as they are threatening?

    Thanks for any advise
    Jon

    #2
    Why are you involved? Surely the dispute is between the neighbour (N) and T. What have you done wrong?
    JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
    1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
    2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
    3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
    4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for your reply. I'm not directly involved at the moment. However the letter from the neighbour was sent to the letting agent and was threatening legal action against me. My original view on this was that it was an issue between the tenant and neighbour and nothing to do with me, but when people start talking legal action you like to be sure!

      Also my main concern is over the neighbours threatening behaviour towards the tenants and how this may affect future tenants. Being in the student market our tenants change pretty much every year and I don't want to be held to ransom by a neighbour

      Comment


        #4
        I do not see any direct enough relationship between you and N to be honest, I think that is what Jeffrey is getting at in any event,... I could be wrong. Any action brought about would almost certainly have to be against T and not yourselves.
        [I]The opinions I give are simply my opinions and interpretations of what I have learnt, in numerous years as a property professional, I would not rely upon them without consulting with a paid advisor and providing them with all the relevant facts[I]

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by jpmoore40 View Post
          Both the husband and to a lesser extent the wife appear to have anger management issues and they never seem to politely ask for the noise to be kept down, rather scream and swear in a very violent manner. One girl said she thought the wife was going to hit her on their last encounter, and the husband left a message on our answer machine once that terrified my wife.....

          Does anyone know where I stand legally on this? It seems to me the best solution would be to get environmental health involved as the tenants are quite happy with that. If the noise is within appropriate levels is there anything we can do to prevent intimidating action from the neighbours? If the noise is unacceptable (which we very much doubt) we would of course do everything we can to rectify the problem, but would the neighbours be able to take legal action against us in any way as they are threatening?
          It's very unlikely you could be liable for alleged nuisance caused by a third party, so I wouldn't worry about being sued (successfully) for damages. Do get in touch with Environmental Health/Noise Abatement Dept at the council and see what they say - but as you're not the one making a complaint I've no idea how they'd approach the matter.

          As for the neighbours' "intimidating action" if there are repeated incidents such as the ones you describe, then this may constitute harassment, which is a criminal offence, so you (and the tenants) should keep careful records of any intimidating behaviour, noting date/what was said/done, and threatening letters. There must be at least two incidents (against the same person).

          Read this, Protection from Harassment Act 1997
          http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1997/40/contents

          You can, in the first instance, report harassment to the police. It may also be appropriate to seek advice from a solicitor.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by westminster View Post
            You can, in the first instance, report harassment to the police. It may also be appropriate to seek advice from a solicitor.
            I don't think that OP can- as it was not OP whom N harassed.
            JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
            1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
            2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
            3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
            4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

            Comment


              #7
              I believe it's an offense to drive if you know you're not well enough to. I remember something about a man that killed a family when he fell asleep at the wheel. He'd been online all night yapping. I don't think there is a court in the land that would say that you would go to jail instead of the neighbour that drove tired! that's just bizarre!

              It can be hard though to live next to a student house, they can be noisy. I used to live above some and whilst I got on ok with them the family next door did storm into their flat one day with baseball bats and a few ended up in hospital (our "house" had been coverted into 2 flats, next door was still a family dwelling).

              Either you stop letting to students (unlikely) or they move. If you're sensitive to noise then don't live next to student accomodation or in flats.
              I'm a good tenant with great landlords
              I'm also a living, breathing, fully cooked female.

              Comment


                #8
                Very often the police response to a complaint of Harassment will be to issue a warning to the alleged harasser. This is sometimes known as a First Instance Warning. It lets the suspect know in clear terms that their behaviour is unwelcome and unacceptable and has to stop. It also acts as a record for the police to show that any further behaviour is the second Act and therefore the P.F.H.A. provisions come into play. Further acts can result in the arrest of the harasser, not necessarily using powers given under the Act but with other enforcement powers, common law for example.

                Harassment is against individuals, maybe a family, so if you or your wife indivdually or together consider that she/you has been the victim of any threat or intimidation and this has been repeated she should report the matter now, so that the 1st incident can be recorded.

                Similarly the students should also keep a detailed record, written and if possible audio recording of all and any threats or exchanges between them and the family doing the threatening/harassing.

                Get it reported. And make that reporting part of your diary. Detail is the key.

                pm
                Before acting on forum advice, you may wish to consult an expert, someone who has all the relevant facts, and who accepts liability for their advice.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by jeffrey View Post
                  I don't think that OP can- as it was not OP whom N harassed.
                  Neighbour has verbaiiy attacked OP's wife.

                  Originally posted by jpmoore40 View Post
                  the husband left a message on our answer machine once that terrified my wife.
                  OP's wife can certainly complain to the police if it happens again.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    could the agent write to the neighbours giving contact details for env health and suggesting that they are the appropriate place for the complaint to go?
                    Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks all for your responses. I did think the situation was nothing really to do with me but wasn't sure so good to hear confirmation from you. If there are any more complaints I will advise the agent to direct them to environmental health, and in the mean time ask the tenants to keep records of any aggressive behaviour from the neighbours.

                      Thanks again

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by westminster View Post
                        Neighbour has verbaiiy attacked OP's wife.


                        OP's wife can certainly complain to the police if it happens again.
                        OK- but that's a quite separate issue from the question about the dispute between N and T.
                        JEFFREY SHAW, solicitor [and Topic Expert], Nether Edge Law*
                        1. Public advice is believed accurate, but I accept no legal responsibility except to direct-paying private clients.
                        2. Telephone advice: see http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=34638.
                        3. For paid advice about conveyancing/leaseholds/L&T, contact me* and become a private client.
                        4. *- Contact info: click on my name (blue-highlight link).

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Recently had this at one of our properties. Our experience is that we made a mistake by letting ourselves be sucked in to support the T. However dealt with by Ts keeping diaries of interactions with neighbours including confrontation for which police were called.

                          At one stage a formal complaint was going to be made under Public Order (threats etc) to police although we advised T against that. Subsequently complainers were deemed "serial" ( think we said that they would problem complain even if they lived next to a nunnery about the servce bells) and problem went away.
                          Wholly agree with Jeffery do not get sucked in BUT do keep your own diary running for year on year as I suspect that whoever lives there will be complained about. the critical tool is the diary.

                          re Neighbours as said elsewhere "hot air" in my non legal view!!

                          Also suggest under an FOI if necessary (which is what we used) copies of councils policy on Noise abatement (usually on a web site ) but also their internal processes (FOI that) for dealing it gives you a greater understanding and therefore control.

                          Comment

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