Managing Anti-social behaviour in rented properties

Anti-social behaviour is a subject close to the hearts of many and it is more complex than it appears on the surface, particularly when it is viewed from the perspective of management. We have recently been faced with the issue of excessive noise created by neighbouring tenants hosting parties and every website I look at says that it is recommended that the neighbours be approached first. I can see some merit in that, as sometimes they genuinely don’t know that they are causing a bit of a disturbance to others and respond accordingly. This is what we always do as the resident management company but what happens when reasonableness doesn’t provide the hoped-for response?

I had earlier had a chat with the tenant and when he said that he might have a party I said ‘fine, no problem, we don’t expect everybody to shut themselves up in summer, just keep the noise down and consider the neighbours’. What did we get on the night? A full PA system capable of around 2-300 watts cranked up at full volume, guests shouting and yelling and congregating around other parts of the common areas. We asked very nicely for the music ( I use the term loosely) to be turned down at 11pm as per the terms of the lease and emphasied that we have a number of very young children and babies on the development and what happened? Nothing.

We continued to try to ignore it for a while longer but eventually had to call our local authoritys’ noise team out. They had a number of noise complaints they were already dealing with (surprise surprise) and around 1am they arrived and asked for the party to be turned down. Whilst the sound system was, the shouting, yelling and wandering around didn’t stop till well after 2am.

We contacted our managing agent (who also acts as our ground landlord) that same Sunday morning via e-mail as we were too hyped up to sleep and they sent letters out to both the landlord and the tenant and we hoped that was the end of that. But no, it wasn’t because the same flat had another one a couple of weeks later! This time it was a birthday party, as we suspected, and as the music was not coming out of a PA system we didn’t go down and ask for it to be toned down until around 12.15am. Very reasonable we thought, especially as a number of kids had been contributing to the noise made by the adults by running round and screaming at the tops of their voices (but hey, thats whats kid do and it was a party after all). Indeed it did quieten down for around an hour or so. Then, for some unexplained reason it all kicked off again but minus the kids.

We contacted the noise team and they came out and this time they listened to the noise from out bedroom and again, after making a few notes they went down and asked for the music to be turned down which it was – just long enough for them to get in the car and drive off and it was turned right back up again. This time though we got them back fast enough for them to hear the noise again from our bedroom and decided it constituted a statutory nuisance for which they served a noise abatement notice. This got the noise stopped. What it didn’t do though is deal with the dispersal of the partygoers and there is no one to call on to assist us in this particular situation. The Safer Neighbourhood Team have no presence after 11pm and a 999 call is only warranted if there is an actual crime being committed, which I understand. Whilst anyone would expect it to take a bit of time for guests to disperse, we still found some of them wandering round the block, shouting, yelling and making some of the residents extremely apprehensive.

As the resident management company, and therefore highly visible, whilst we don’t like taking the kind of action we are sometimes forced to take, we also have to consider the wellbeing of everyone. Not to mention the fact that if we didn’t act then it would be reasonable for residents to ask why. So what did we do? We sent a letter to all landlords and tenants advising that we had taken the decision to ban all barbeques and outside parties for everyone. Having spoken to some residents since, we appear to have made the right decision.

Written by Sharon Crossland

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