Are Landlords Responsible For Their Noisy Tenants?

Noisy Tenants

There are noisy tenants who step heavily, speak loudly, and they may bother their neighbours a bit with their banging and general loudness, and they probably look stupid, too. But broadly speaking, they probably don’t cause many concerning issues, albeit annoying, but just a minor annoyance really.

And then there are noisy tenants. Tenants who get into screaming matches, host blowout parties with cocaine buffets, and play tasteless and obscenely loud music at all hours of the day and night. These tenants may actually cause so much noise that it interferes with their neighbours’ quality of life. And that’s a serious issue!

But are landlords responsible for their outrageously noisy and stupid tenants? What does the law say, and what can you do if your tenants are extremely loud and are bothering their neighbours? Are you responsible for handling neighbour noise complaints caused by your tenant? Let’s take a look…

Most commonly, tenants complain of noise in house-sharing situations (e.g. HMOs) when their housemates are being disruptive. Essentially, it’s tenant-on-tenant beef! Another common scenario is when neighbours are being disturbed by tenants’, particularly when they have thin sharing walls. But really, it doesn’t matter what the scenario is, noise is noise, and too much of it is annoying for everyone but the donkey causing it!

Table of contents:

What constitutes as “loud noise”?

Obviously we’re talking about noise that’s too loud, to the point of disruption.

Noise can be, well, anything! From stomping around to shouting, dogs barking and more. When it comes to noisy tenants, though, the noise in question is usually stemmed from one or more of the following:

  • Loud music or TV
  • Noise from parties including shouting, voices, music, stomping around and more
  • Dogs barking excessively
  • Children who scream and shout excessively
  • Loud noise from appliances, equipment, tools, engines, and other such machines

What the law says about noise issues

This is the good news, whether you’re a landlord, tenant, or anyone else suffering from noise disturbance.

When it comes to excessive noise the law is on your side! Well, presuming you’re on the side being attacked by it (and not the asshole dishing it out).

The law stipulates that noise is a statutory nuisance if it “unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises”

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, multiple pieces of legislation protects us from being disturbed by excessive noise that interferes with our quality of life, including:

Please note, the legislation states that noise must be “excessive enough” to cause a nuisance. So bear in mind, stepping too heavily in an upper-storey flat probably won’t count. Dropping bowling balls, however…

Are landlords liable for their noisy tenants?

In short, no.

Noisy tenants are not a landlord’s responsibility unless you directly contribute to the noise issues. For example, if you’re throwing raucous parties at your tenant’s home. Ultimately, you can’t control what tenants do – so legally, it’s not your problem.

While that may seem like good news, obviously it doesn’t fix the problem, because your tenant is still being a leery little shit and needs to be contained. There’s still an issue which needs to be resolved ASAP.

How to deal with noisy tenants – your options

While it’s not necessarily the landlord’s responsibility to take care of noise issues, noisy tenants can drive away neighbours, cause fellow tenants to vacate (in house sharing situations), make your property undesirable, and generally cause headaches.

If someone has complained to you about your noisy tenants, whether it be a fellow tenant or neighbour, there are a few steps you can take:

  • Encourage the house mates/neighbours to resolve the issue
    Since most landlords are usually made aware of their noisy tenants by house mates or neighbours, it’s best to encourage them to try and resolve matters with your tenant directly, particularly because you are not legally responsible.

    However, bear in in mind that, understandably, neighbours are often intimidated and don’t want to cause confrontation by approaching the tenant directly, so this option might be a non-starter.

  • Talk to your noisy tenants’ directly
    Reach out to your tenant and try to work things out. Many times, a tenant may not even realise their neighbours are complaining about noise. Make it clear that excessive noise is not acceptable, but try to be non-confrontational.

    If this approach doesn’t work, it might be worth checking your tenancy agreement for a “noise” clause (most tenancy agreements will have one). If there is one, highlight the clause and the potential repercussions of breaching the clause (possible eviction).

    If they persist in putting “excessive noise” out into the world and continue causing havoc, it might be time to gather some evidence in order to escalate the situation; enlist the neighbour’s help to document the noise (e.g. dates, times, cause of noise, recordings etc).

  • Contact your local Environmental Health Department
    It is always encouraged for complainants to try and resolve noise issues directly with the person(s) responsible, but if that fails (which it often does), the next step is to lodge a complaint with the Environmental Health Department in your Local Authority.

    By law, the local authorities have a duty to deal with ‘statutory nuisance’ (e.g. noise, anti-social behavior). It’s worth noting that they are obliged to keep your/your neighbour’s identity confidential, which is nice!

    The GOV website makes it easy to report a noise nuisance with your local EHD.

  • Evicting noisy tenants
    If you’ve had enough and you just want your tenants out of the property because they’re not willing to play nice, it might be time to start the eviction process. You can actually do this before, after or alongside lodging a complaint with the Environmental Health Department.

    No one wants to go down this path, but sometimes it’s the only sensible option left. Some people are simply unreasonable and no amount of rational talk will get through to them. Life facts.

    There a couple of ways to start an eviction process, either by serving your tenant with a Section 8 or Section 21 (one option will most likely be more suitable than the other).

    If you decide that the Section 8 route is the best for you, you can evict them using Ground 14(a):

    been guilty of conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance or annoyance to a person residing, visiting or otherwise engaging in a lawful activity in the locality.

    For the best chance of success, you should have your evidence ready, because your tenant can dispute your allegation, and then it can be an unbearable and tedious case of your word against theirs. It might actually be best to wait for the EHD’s report before serving a Section 8, because if they too decide the noise is too loud, you will have a stronger case.

    If the tenancy is periodic or the fixed-term is coming to end shortly, you might be better off serving a Section 21 (the “no-fault” eviction notice).

    I’m not going to cover the specifics of tenant evictions in greater detail right now, but you can find out more in my how to evict a tenant blog post, and this blog post will help you understand the difference between a Section 8 and Section 21 notice (if you’re not already aware).

    Also, it’s definitely worth bearing in mind (I probably should have mentioned this before!) that if you do require legal advice with problem tenants and/or evictions, you can access free landlord advice (no obligations) from our partner Legalforlandlords, one of the UK’s most popular and best rated landlord legal services.

How to avoid noisy tenants (tips for the future)

If you’re currently dealing with noisy tenants this is probably the last thing on your mind, but it’s important to learn from this experience and prevent it from happening again in the future. Or at least, minimise the risks.

So here are a few tips on how you can avoid noisy tenants:

  • Thorough tenant referencing
    It goes without saying that every prospective tenant should be thoroughly referenced because it’s by far the best way to avoid bad tenants in general. A good credit rating won’t necessarily identify a noisy tenant, but references from previous landlords just might.
  • Ensure you have a noise clause in your tenancy agreement
    As briefly touched on, most [good] tenancy agreements will have a clause related to noise – such as “quiet hours” from 11PM to 7AM – which makes it much easier to manage loud tenants. If a tenant consistently violates the noise clause, this will give landlords grounds for eviction, which is a powerful trump card to have when negotiating.

    All the tenancy agreements available from my website have the following clause:

    7.5 The Tenant shall not allow any noise to be heard outside the Property so as to be a nuisance to any person and shall not play loud music or play a television, radio or other such instrument between the hours of 11pm and 7am at a volume which will cause a nuisance to any other person.

  • Avoid tenants that are more likely to cause noise
    I need to be careful about how I word this, because I could easily send the wrong message (or the right one, and cause offence), but hopefully you’ll know what I’m getting at.

    There are certain types of tenants that are more likely to create a nuisance than others, or in this case, noise. For example, tenants with large dogs or tenants of a younger age are more likely to cause more noise than an elderly couple.

    I’m sorry, but they’re just the facts!!

    I’m not saying landlords should blanket-ban certain types of tenants (in fact, you definitely shouldn’t do that), but it’s important to be mindful and realistic. Life is a game of odds, and we need to make decisions based on the odds being in our favour.

Right. That’s it, that’s all I’ve got to say on the issue, what do ya’ think? Hope it’s been helpful.

If you’re currently ripping your hair out because of irritatingly loud tenants, I’m with you! I feel your pain, and I wish you the best of luck! If it’s any consolation (which it won’t be), remember that it’s not your legal responsibility to pipe your tenant down (*cough* but you should probably help nip the problem in the butt).

P.s. Remember, if you do need legal advice with problem tenants and/or evictions, you can contact our partner Legalforlandlords.

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