Let’s start with the good news: the vast majority of tenants pay their rent on time and cause their landlords very little, if any, grief.
Now for the not so good news: a small percentage of tenants wreak havoc. They infuriate the neighbours, damage property and behave in a violent and aggressive way.
From a legal perspective, it’s difficult to hold a landlord responsible for the behaviour of a tenant (we’re all responsible for our own actions, right?). However, a landlord can be liable if it can be shown that they encouraged anti-social behaviour or did nothing to stop it.
Steps to Deal with Nuisance Tenants
1 Reference checks
The first step is to do all you can to avoid nuisance tenants in the first place. Check all references rigorously. Sometimes landlords take shortcuts because they want to let the property quickly or because “a friend of a friend” has vouched for a prospective tenant. Do all the relevant checks every time, even if Bob from the pub “swears” his nephew is a “real diamond”.
Take a detailed inventory of the property and photograph the condition of every room. This will serve as a useful record if you wind up in a dispute over damage to the property.
3 Read the fine print
Tenancy agreements should contain clauses relating to sub-letting, noise, pets and anti-social behaviour – all potential areas of conflict. If you need to evict a nuisance tenant later on, you may need to rely on these in court.
4 Regular inspections
Inspections allow you to spot problems early. They also send a clear message that you are on the case. Tenants are more likely to take liberties with absentee landlords.
5 Talk – and listen
If a neighbour complains about the behaviour of your tenant, you need to get the tenant’s side of the story. Stay calm and don’t jump to conclusions. It’s not unheard of for neighbours to make false complaints or to nit-pick. Try and pin your tenant and the neighbour down on details. Usually if a story is untrue it quickly unravels when you press for times and dates.
6 Strike a balance
Things get tricky if both parties accuse each other of lying. If this is the case, you’ll need to rely on your own judgement.
If you suspect your tenant is trying it on, ask the neighbours to keep a diary of anti-social behaviour.
Conversely, if the neighbour reminds you of nosy Mrs Mangel from Neighbours, ask your tenant to keep a diary of conversations and events.
7 Keep a paper trail
Follow up all conversations and meetings with emails, and keep details of any communications with neighbours, the council or police.
If the issue cannot be resolved, you could opt for mediation or push for eviction. If you pursue the latter and you’ve followed the steps listed here, you will have a useful body of evidence to help you to make your case in court.
Dealing with nuisance tenants takes the patience of a saint, the negotiating talent of a top diplomat and sharp-eyed detective skills. But if you’re not the embodiment of Mother Teresa, Kofi Annan and Hercule Poirot, don’t worry. We can take the stress and burden of managing a property off your shoulders.
Here at Mackay Property Agents we have the skills, experience and expertise to expertly manage any difficult situations.
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