Problem neighbours in rented property

Problem neighbours in rented property

A leaf blower on a Sunday morning, children running down corridors, the thump of drum and bass shaking the walls — it’s enough to give you a tension headache. Problem neighbours come in many forms, whether it’s the noisy tenants next door or the flat beneath yours that’s grating on your last nerve. But when it comes to rented property, it can feel like there’s nothing much you can do besides ask politely and hope the behaviour stops. Can you report them to their landlord? And what does the law say about how to deal with noisy tenants or badly behaved ones? Well, keep reading and we’ll guide you through it.

What counts as a problem neighbour?

The first thing to note is that there’s a difference between someone who is going about their normal, day-to-day life and a problem neighbour who is behaving inappropriately. For example, if your upstairs neighbour can’t sleep and their footsteps disturb you late at night — you might gift them a pair of fluffy slippers to dampen the sound, but that’s about as much as you can do. Every tenant has the right to feel at home in their rented property and while they should be respectful, you can’t control when they’re asleep or awake.  

But, if your neighbour is leaving litter in the communal gardens or holding regular, raging parties that go on into the small hours? Then that’s inconsiderate and a problem that’s bound to get under your skin. Here are some other examples of problem neighbour behaviour:

  • Bin bags left to attract rodents at the back door
  • Aggressive or violent behaviour
  • Late-night DIY projects — such as drilling into walls
  • Spying on or entering your home without your permission
  • Large parties with blaring music
  • Parking in the wrong spot or across multiple drives
  • Making excessive noise in communal spaces
  • Children running around and creating noise early in the mornings
  • Pets left outside to bark into the night

Wondering if a landlord can evict the dog from next door? Check out: ‘Can landlords refuse pets UK’. Or struggling with peeping neighbours? Take a look at these: ‘9 ways to protect your new home’.

If your neighbours are behaving in any of these ways, or in another way that’s got you banging your head against the wall — then it’s time to look for a solution.

Are landlords responsible for problem neighbours?

So who do you turn to when neighbours become a problem? Well, a landlord can be held responsible for the actions of their tenants if they’re found to be negligent when it comes to neighbour disputes — for example, by encouraging problems or ignoring them. That means a landlord must do their best to resolve problems caused by their tenants whenever they arise. But before you contact your neighbour’s landlord, it’s a good idea to try to resolve the situation yourself first.

How to talk to a problem neighbour

Most problem neighbours in rented property are unaware they’re causing a problem at all. That’s why it’s best to chat with them one-on-one before getting their landlord involved.

Here’s a quick guide on how to approach that conversation:

  • Introduce yourself in person if you haven’t already. Your neighbour is more likely to help a friendly face — i.e. resist the urge to leave passive-aggressive notes on their doorstep.
  • Explain the problem you’re having in a clear, polite way. It doesn’t need to be a confrontation and you shouldn’t approach it like one.
  • Ask if you can swap mobile numbers — open communication between the two of you will help make sure the problem doesn’t resurface.

In most cases, a neighbour will appreciate you coming to them first. It gives them a chance to change up their behaviour and it’s much less hassle for you if it works out. But if your neighbour is unresponsive, aggressive, or makes you feel unsafe in any way, then it’s best to step away and try something else.

How to report a problem neighbour to their landlord

If you’re at your wit’s end with your neighbour, then it might be time to hand the matter over to their landlord. You can make a complaint via email, letter, or text — but you’ll want to do it in writing so everything’s recorded.

If you’re wondering, how do I find out my neighbours’ landlord? Then find your local council via GOV.UK and give them a quick call. They’ll know how to find out the landlord of a rented property and how best to contact them. Once you’ve got contact details, send your neighbour’s landlord a message outlining the problem — you might want to include a list of disturbances with dates, times, and descriptions so they can better understand the situation.

A quick note: it’s not illegal to capture audio, photos, or video to back up your claims, but you should consider it very carefully. It might be safe enough to take pictures of bin bags left to rot in the garden but maybe think twice before recording your neighbours’ arguments through the wall. It can make the problem worse if your neighbours feel their privacy has been invaded.

But let’s say you’ve contacted your neighbour’s landlord — what happens next? Well, most likely they will speak to their tenants, ask them to fix the problem, and possibly, mediate a conversation between the two of you. They might also make follow-up inspections to check everything’s resolved and if not, they can hand their tenants an eviction notice for breaking the terms of the tenancy agreement. That’s because tenants usually have to agree to look after a rented property and not become a public nuisance. In most cases though, a warning is all that’s needed to encourage a change in behaviour.

If you’re dealing with a landlord who won’t listen, why not read: ‘How to deal with a landlord who is unreasonable’.

A few final tips…

If you’ve tried everything, but you’re getting nowhere? Then you can choose to hire an independent mediation service. This is an impartial third party who can help keep things under control and escalate the problem to the council, or police if needs be.

For more personalised help, get in touch with Citizen’s Advice.

To get fully informed, why not read up on: ‘Your rights as a renter’.