What should our managing agent do about our nuisance neighbour?

Home sweet home. The one place where we can properly relax and switch off. Unless of course the folk in the flat above have got their music playing at 2am, the dog next door has been barking because he’s been on his own all day, or the insomniac DIY enthusiast downstairs thinks nothing of getting the drill out at first light.

Communal living – as all leaseholders know – requires a degree of tolerance and acceptance on all sides, but thoughtless or antisocial behaviour can stretch even the most patient of individuals.

When you are living amongst conflict it really can feel all-consuming, and leaseholders’ first port of call is usually the managing agent - but the responses from managing agents can be pretty mixed!

A good managing agent will recognise that leaseholders need a friendly ear and a supportive approach, yet we hear of many that simply refuse to get involved in neighbour disputes.

First steps first
We often find that a quiet word with the offending party can sort things out quickly – they may not have even been aware that their behaviour was causing problems. This support from your managing agent can also help to take out the emotion from the dispute. In fact, your agent might even be able to talk to your neighbour without revealing who it was that made the complaint.

But what if things have escalated beyond this?

In reality, managing agents have surprisingly limited powers in dealing with antisocial behaviour – we are led by the clauses and covenants within the lease.

If a leaseholder is in breach of the covenants of their lease, then there is of course the ultimate weapon of forfeiture, but this is an expensive and risky route to take – and one we would caution against. The tribunal is unlikely to consider nuisance behaviour as being so significant that forfeiture can proceed.

Good record keeping
Where nuisance behaviour puts a neighbour in breach of their lease, a good managing agent should instead support you to take it up with your local authority. Councils have considerable powers to deal with nuisance behaviour and are generally a faster and MUCH cheaper option than pursuing forfeiture. ARMA also has a useful set of advice notes, including this one on how to deal with noisy neighbours which can be found here.

Ask your managing agent to help you record the behaviour and create a log of evidence and incidents, with dates and times. The local authority will need this if they are to be able to use their powers to tackle the nuisance behaviour.

Protect yourself if you rent out your flat
If you rent out your apartment you are of course responsible for the behaviour of your tenants. Whilst a good managing agent will involve tenants in their communications and any residents’ association, as the leaseholder you should also take steps to protect yourself – and your property – from any legal action taken in the event of your tenant’s nuisance behaviour.

We recommend you provide your tenants with a copy of the covenants you are legally responsible for and, importantly, talk them through the detail. So, if the lease covenants stipulate no noise after 11pm or no commercial vehicles to be parked on the property, make sure your tenants know and understand their responsibilities.

Building communities and building trust
At Clear Building Management we take neighbour disputes seriously; we recognise the mental and emotional toll that they can take. We see property management as being far more than simply managing the building, it is also about helping to build communities. Through active residents’ associations and regular communications that allow issues to be resolved at an early stage, we seek to build trust between residents and establish successful communal living. And, when neighbour disputes do arise, we provide hands-on and practical support to help secure a swift resolution.

March 2018