Arguably one of the hardest things about being a landlord is handing over control of your rental property to your tenant. There’s not a lot you can do about what your tenant chooses to do day-to-day, including how they react to situations that they may find themselves in with their neighbours – whether it’s their fault or not.
Neighbourly disputes are amongst the most difficult things to deal with as a landlord. There’s no standard set of guidelines when it comes to solving the problems, as every situation is so different with an individual set of circumstances. Unfortunately, many people’s go-to solution when dealing with a problematic neighbour is to contact their landlord, making it your problem as well as theirs.
Our friends at CIA Landlord Insurance take a look at some common issues and how you can overcome them…
Noise is a very common complaint between neighbours. In fact, a third of people face inconsiderate neighbours who make too much noise and prevent them from sleeping – whether that’s loud music, a dog excessively barking, shouting and arguments or perhaps noisy DIY work such as drilling or hammering.
Our homes are our safe spaces where we go to relax and unwind after a long day at work. When someone else’s routine or lifestyle interrupts this peace and quiet day-in-day-out, the frustration can easily reach boiling point. Being kept up at night and a lack of sleep can have a knock-on effect to the rest of someones day, with low concentration levels and a negative impact on their wellbeing.
As the world’s population increases, we’re all living within close proximity to one another. In many cases, this only worsens the noise issue between neighbours. Luckily, noise ordinances are in place in the majority of areas, with the exception of small or rural communities, to control the limit of allowable noise levels at different times of the day. These are typically higher during the daytime hours and lower during nighttime hours.
In the event of a violation of these noise ordinances by your neighbour, it’s always best for your tenant to approach the neighbour first and try and resolve it that way. Often, all that’s needed is a chat on both sides to clear up the issue. Noise ordinance issues can also be reported to the police or other law enforcement agency, which will then usually be followed by a site visit to record sound levels and potentially issue fines and enforce corrective action.
Another incredibly common issue is boundary disputes. This can be anything from out of control hedges, dilapidated fences, shared driveways to building works. It’s slightly simplified with rental properties, in that issues such as fences falling down and walls needing repairs are the landlord’s responsibility to manage. It’s also a landlord’s responsibility to pay for the repairs so it may be you who ends up in the sticky situation if you’re not 100% clear on where your property’s boundaries start and end.
Again, communication is key and boundary disputes can usually be avoided by a simple discussion between your, or your tenant, and the neighbour. It’s likely to be a simple misunderstanding. In saying that, make sure you approach the issue in the right way. Any negativity between you and the neighbour will ultimately affect your tenant, leaving them feeling unhappy about their tenancy and potentially leading to more problems.
Rented or not, everyone has the right to feel safe and sound in and around their home. Tensions can run high between neighbours as there’s nowhere to hide, so in the worst cases, situations reach boiling point and harassment, or even assault can take place.
So, what exactly is harassment? By definition, it’s any type of behaviour or action taken towards someone which threatens their own sense of security. Whether that’s violent threats, actual violence or verbal abuse, a number of things will be classed as harassment and will be taken seriously by law enforcement.
If your tenant is being harassed by a neighbour, they should let you know as soon as possible. Don’t get involved with the neighbour in question as you run the risk of making things much worse for your tenant. Instead, consider taking extra security measures such as fitting extra locks, outdoor lighting or maybe even installing CCTV cameras.
As a landlord, you can’t be held liable for the actions of another human being, so there’s no way that your tenant can threaten against you in the event of neighbourly disputes, however it is wise to ensure your tenants safety as much as you can. If the harassment persists, it’s time to pass the issue onto the police. Encourage your tenant to keep written records of any harassment so that the police have as much information as possible.
If trying to resolve the issue between you isn’t working, it may be time to turn to call your local mediation program to talk with a mediator. Mediation is when a third party impartial mediator helps to solve the issues and clear up misunderstandings so that you, your tenant and the neighbour can move forward. They listen to both sides of an issue and point out areas of common ground to guide the parties involved in crafting their own win/win solution. This is a much more attractive option than taking the issue to court.
The key with disputes is communication, and perhaps coming to a compromise. After all, your tenant is likely to be living in the property for an extended period of time and some battles just might not be worth fighting.
Give difficult neighbours the benefit of the doubt until you’ve spoken with them and tried to resolve the issue. Worst case scenario, there’s always the courts to turn to but hopefully, our advice means that you can handle neighbourly disputes without the help of the law.