Anti-Social Tenants: What are your Rights?
Even if you’ve undertaken all the best screening processes, you’re signed up to best landlord insurance policy there is and you’ve been sure to give your tenants a full run through the house rules, you can sadly still end up with anti-social tenants. Unfortunately, disputes between landlords and anti-social tenants can often get extremely personal and they put landlords in a very difficult position. Knowing your rights by law is key to safely resolving the dispute.
What is Anti-Social Behaviour?
Anti-social behaviour covers an enormous range of possible disturbances. Normally it’s persistent and inconsiderate noise pollution or vandalism and damages, but anti-social behaviour covers a variety of other factors. Littering, dog fouling or animal mistreatment, bullying, systematically racist or homophobic abuse towards neighbours, threats or even violence could all classify as anti-social behaviour.
Private Landlord Evictions for Anti-Social Behaviour
For most private landlords, complaints against anti-social tenants are grounds for eviction and, generally, they will pursue this line of action. If your tenants are bound by an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, anti-social behaviour can be considered a simple breach of contract and, normally, it’s a case of giving written notice. Normally this is two months, but you may be able to evict your tenants in as little as two weeks if you have a clause preventing anti-social behaviour in your contract.
Eviction by Neighbours
Even if you decide that the anti-social behaviour displayed by your tenant does not warrant eviction, your tenants’ neighbours can become involved. Initially they are likely to do this by complaining to you or to the housing ombudsman, but legally, neighbours are entitled to apply for an injunction to be placed on tenants. This means that a court order may be given to prevent tenants, say, leaving out rubbish and if they break the injunction they may be imprisoned.
The sensitive nature of many complaints for anti-social behaviour means that often it’s essential to get police involved. While tenants do have disputes, you have a responsibility as a landlord to notify the police of illegal activity on your property. This might be obvious cases like drug farming or money laundering, but cases of inciting racial hatred are considered illegal in the UK. These are unequivocally police matters.
In many cases, the best remedy to anti-social behaviour is to have a frank discussion with your tenants, explain the situation and explain that you or a neighbour has the right to evict them if the situation does not improve. Often this will solve the problem before the need to go to an arbitrator or a court of law.