Letting agents and property managers frequently loose their HMO licenses for failing to manage tenants’ antisocial behaviour (ASB). As a condition of the license, you are responsible for managing any potential ASB from tenants.
If ASB continues in or around your property, there can be even more serious consequences. Not only do letting agents suffer reputational damage and the loss of their licences, but they are also left vulnerable to banning orders. A banning order restricts your ability to rent out properties for a minimum of 12 months with no statutory upper limit, meaning ASB could impact your business indefinitely.
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 disturbances will likely lodge an ASB complaint to the local authority if the behaviour continues.
Following a complaint, 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 have a robust policy in dealing with ASB. Some councils may even demand that you adopt their standard policy.
Preventing and stopping ASB
It’s important that you do everything possible to prevent, mediate and stop ASB in your licensed properties. Here are seven top tips for getting started:
- 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 experience 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 if neighbours complain to you.
- Make sure your properties have correct sound insulation. Sometimes even reasonable domestic noise travels through walls, ceilings, flooring and windows.
- If the alleged tenant is a student whose ASB does not improve after initial warnings, you could consider speaking to their school. The threat of disciplinary action from universities could effectively stub out ASB.
- Treat every tenant and complaint fairly. Investigate any allegations from the council or neighbours. They may think the noise comes from your tenant's residence, but in reality, sound travels, and the noise could originate from another house.
These are just examples of how you could 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. A paper trail 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. Download our free factsheet about section 8 today.