Effective management of anti-social behaviour (ASB) is a common license condition for houses in multiple occupation (HMO). You may question why your tenants’ behaviour should come under your remit. The answer is simply that you are responsible for any ASB associated with your licensed properties and tenants. And if you ignore complaints about ASB at your properties, you can face serious consequences. One of the most severe outcomes is that you could be issued a banning order, restricting your ability to rent out properties for at least 12 months. There is no statutory upper limit as to how long one can be banned from letting houses and working in lettings or property management.
Who's accountable for ASB in rented properties?
Be it excessive noise, late-night parties or misplaced rubbish, recurring nuisance can seriously interrupt the daily lives of nearby residents. Neighbours affected by such nuisance are usually those who would lodge an ASB complaint to the local authority. When a complaint is lodged, the council will look to you for resolution, as you are ultimately accountable for your licensed properties. You must demonstrate that you take these complaints seriously and that you have a robust policy in dealing with ASB. Some councils demand that you adopt their standard policy or come up with your own policy on the issue.
Preventing and stopping ASB
Here we’ve listed 7 things you could do to prevent, mediate and stop ASB in your licensed properties.
- Conduct thorough tenancy referencing before establishing a new tenancy agreement. Ask tenants for a reference from their previous landlord or property manager. Ask the previous landlord for a recommendation.
- Incorporate a clause in the tenancy agreement which defines the actions and non-actions which could constitute ASB and the processes for dealing with it.
- Give nearby neighbours your emergency contact details. If they ever noticed ASB from your tenants, they can contact you directly before lodging a complaint with the council.
- Save your tenants’ phone numbers on your mobile phone so that you can easily reach them when neighbours complain to you.
- Make sure your properties have proper sound insulation. Sometimes even reasonable domestic noise travels through walls, ceilings, flooring and windows.
- If the alleged tenant is a student and their ASB does not improve after initial warnings, you could consider speaking to their school. The threat of disciplinary action from universities could be effective in stubbing out ASB.
- Treat every tenant and complaint fairly. Investigate any allegations from the council or neighbours. Sometimes, they may be mistaken about the source of the ASB. They may think the noise comes from your tenant’s residence but in reality, sound travels, and the noise could come from another house.
These are just examples of what you could do to deal with ASB. If you’re facing an issue with your rental property, please consult the local authority and qualified professionals so they can provide you with tailored recommendations.
ASB: Grounds for eviction?
If after warnings and complaints the tenant continues to display antisocial behaviour, you should consider serving a section 8 notice and evict the tenant. Always record all your communication with the tenant. Papertrail is especially important when serving section 8 notices. When relying on ASB as a ground for serving section 8, you must meet the minimum notice of possession period.
If ASB is left unresolved, your ‘fit-and-proper’ status to hold and manage HMO properties may be questioned. You could face civil lawsuits for the nuisance and harassment inflicted on others. In the most severe cases, the council could decide to apply for a banning order against you from the first-tier tribunal, if granted, you may not be able to rent out properties for a minimum of 12 months with no maximum limit. Take ASB seriously.