For some landlords the idea of finding their tenant has been committing anti-social behaviour is all too real. But what rights do the landlords have and what procedures must be carried out so that the issue is dealt with fairly and lawfully. Here we provide a brief guide on what a landlord can do and the steps needed to be taken in order to deal with this anti-social behaviour.
What is anti-social behavior?
The term anti-social behaviour (ASB) is used to describe a wide range of inconsiderate and nuisance behaviour, such as:
- too much noise
- disputes with neighbours
Although, not a criminal offence, this type of behaviour can have a negative effect on the quality of life of individuals and communities. It is therefore vital to report your concerns about the anti-social behaviour at an early stage, before a problem gets out of control.
The tenancy agreement
A tenancy agreement that is well-structured and clearly prohibits anti-social behaviour is essential. There should also be a clause prohibiting illegal or immoral behaviour.
What action can be taken?
The first step is to communicate with the tenant and make it clear that the behaviour complained of is not acceptable. This can be done orally or in written form but all conversations should always be confirmed in writing. Clearly, before taking any action you need to be satisfied that any complaints received about your tenant are genuine and if possible be able to provide some evidence before you take up the matter with the tenant.
If the initial approach to the tenant does not work, then obviously you should consider a follow up such as a “final warning”. Again, always put this in writing.
It is very important that you collect any evidence of anti-social behaviour. Keep a record of dates, times and places of what happened, as well as the names and details of possible witnesses. Try and obtain some sort of statement at the time from a witness such as a letter setting out their record of what happened. You can ask neighbours to keep a diary of all incidents with full details, including dates and times.
Can the landlord be responsible?
As a matter of law, there is rarely any obligation for a landlord to do anything about anti-social behaviour. But help can be obtained from a variety of sources. Local councils, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Housing Associations, private landlords and police all have a role in tackling the range of behaviours which people often consider as anti-social.
- Local councils
Local councils have responsibility for:
- noise nuisance
- disputes about high hedges
- litter and illegal dumping
- fly posting
- dog fouling
- dog nuisance
- stray dogs
- abandoned vehicles
- Northern Ireland Housing Executive
The Housing Executive has responsibility for:
- noisy or disruptive tenants
- neglected dwellings/ gardens
- use of premises for illegal purposes
- use of premises for business purposes
- neighbourhood disputes
- Police Service of Northern Ireland
Some anti-social behaviours may involve criminal activity and, where this is the case, the police should be notified. The police have responsibility for:
- motoring offences
- drunken and rowdy behaviour in a public place
- criminal damage
- drug use/ dealing
- hate crime
- Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs)
Policing and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSPs) also have a role in working with organisations and communities to address anti-social behaviour in your local area.
Anti-social behaviour from tenants can have a negative effect on the quality of life of individuals and communities. It is therefore important, as a landlord, to report your concerns about anti-social behaviour in your property at an early stage so that the best source can deal with the problem effectively and efficiently so that normal life can resume for those directly affected by this behaviour.
If you are a landlord and feel you need to take legal advice H McPartland & Sons have experience in landlord and tenant law and we recommend that you contact us sooner rather than later to discuss anti-social behaviour issues.