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What to do about intimidating neighbours

by | Nov 28, 2022

Home $ Property Management $ The Importance of Tenant Management $ What to do about intimidating neighbours

Introduction

No one likes being in a property where neighbours are causing trouble to tenants. This can be extremely disruptive and often unfair as their intimidation can be unwarranted and unfair based on your treatment of the neighbours of a property 

So, whether your neighbours are noisy, intimidating or simply disruptive, this guide will walk you through how you can go about taking action to stop this as well as inform you whether taking action is the right thing to do anyway.

What can go wrong if you report a neighbour?

As you report a neighbour, you may consider the risk involved to you in the long term which is completely reasonable. Considering the risk of reporting a neighbour in the UK and deciding not to is reasonable once you truly understand what can go wrong.

Factors like how long you’re planning to stay in the property, how bad the intimidation from the neighbour is and what powers you possess must all be considered in the process of reporting a neighbour.

While it would be nice if everyone got along nicely, sometimes accepting that you don’t and maintaining the peace in a property is what you should do to move forward.

You could ruin the relationship with your neighbours for years

First of all, it is important to understand that neighbours are people and the relationship they have with you is extremely important. If you know you both have a long lease on a property and will be sharing a space for years to come, starting off with reporting your neighbour may not be the best thing to do.

Neighbours arguing after a neighbour was intimidating

For example, if you live in close vicinity to a neighbour and you have to see them most days, knowing that you’re going to live with that neighbour may stop you from reporting them so quickly. You may choose to work with them instead and perhaps try to resolve issues personally first.

Could put yourself at risk of physical violence

Sometimes, neighbours can be hysterical and it can be hard to tell who they really are. A neighbour could have mental health problems, be capable of physical violence or perhaps have a criminal record. As a result, reporting your neighbour could mean you feel unsafe in the place you live as they may react erratically.

While sometimes, reporting a neighbour is the only right thing to do, there is a chance that it may not be worth the risk if you know the neighbour will be gone soon, you will be leaving soon or you don’t have the necessary protection from the government or police officers before you start a confrontation.

Could struggle to sell or let a property

Selling a property on time is important for landlords who want to move on with a deal and make a property sale move along in their predicted time. When there are troublesome neighbours in a property and you report them, it could take a while for issues to resolve and things may get worse before they get better.

Hence, a landlord may choose to hold off on reporting a neighbour if they feel that filing formal compliance could make things worse before they sell a property. Hoping buyers or potential tenants do not notice.

What are the ways a tenant should complain about intimidating neighbours?

Complaining about a neighbour isn’t something you ever want to do as it is unfair that someone has to complain in the first place. In a perfect world, there would be no issues to report and everyone would get along. However, this is not realistic and knowing exactly how to move forward with a legitimate complaint is important if you want to treat a complaint efficiently and have a good chance of having a favourable outcome.

1: Collect evidence

Photo evidence, video evidence and perhaps audio of the noise levels of the neighbours that have been intimidating or causing a nuisance should all be taken. On top of this, if you are to confront a neighbour face to face and you know there may be an altercation, you may be able to discreetly record it or get someone to help you record what happens.

In other words, the more evidence you have the better. If things were to escalate to court, having the correct evidence will be advantageous in the outcome of a court case.

2: Sort issues out verbally

Verbal agreement and being cordial with neighbours verbally can be a good way to complain without having to involve a local authority or the judicial system. Complaining politely and explaining your situation at first to a neighbour can be a great way to get them to understand.

If you can establish some kind of friendship with those who live near you, they will be far more likely to accept what you request and change their behaviour so they are less intimidating.

Two neighbours that are sorting issues out verbally

3: Use council mediators

Council mediators are people hired by the local authority to give private advice and legal consultation to both parties involved in a dispute. For more examples of how these officials operate click here.

How this works is the mediator will meet with both people in disagreement first and then once it is decided what each party wants, they will meet together and a cordial discussion will take place between the two disagreeing neighbours or a neighbour and a landlord.

In most councils, this service is completely free and the moderators are trained specifically for the role. Making sure disputes get resolved to the best of their ability and the discussions are safe. Do not worry – if a neighbour is found to be disruptive or dangerous in the first meeting then there would be no need to meet a second time. This is what the moderator is for.

4: Contact a housing Ombudsman

If you are a tenant, a housing ombudsman will not discuss your case until you have looked at it with a landlord. So, the first thing you should do is discuss your case with a landlord so they can attempt to resolve the issue to the best of their ability. They will check if the landlord has had suitable time to act too.

Once you are able to prove you’re not able to resolve an issue with the help of a landlord, the complaint should be referred to the ombudsman. In order to continue the case, a maximum of twelve months must have passed since the landlord last responded to the case.

A description of the dispute you have with other tenants in the property or the landlord for that matter, evidence of a landlord’s final response and evidence that the tenant is allowed to file a complaint on behalf of a landlord should all be in the complaints document.

Contact the housing ombudsman by finding their email and phone number on their official website here.

How to determine if anti-social behaviour is worth reporting

There are so many different forms of anti-social behaviour it can be hard to tell what is worth reporting and to what extent they should be reported. Some issues are worth going to court for whereas others may be resolved with a simple verbal discussion.

For example, going to court for a dispute over a neighbour using your bins for rubbish waste is an example of low level anti-social behaviour not worth reporting that may be resolved with a simple conversation with a landlord

What are all the things that are worth reporting?

While this list should be looked at sceptically, here are some of the things a neighbour or landlord should complain about. It may be fair use of a property but these examples may encroach on another neighbour’s ability to enjoy their living space:

  • Building high fences out of planning permission regulations found here
  • Loud noises in a property that can be heard inside another property after 9 pm
  • A neighbour consistently using outdoor bins that don’t belong to them
  • Pets that cause damage to the property of a neighbour
  • Threats or abuse showed towards neighbours (verbal or physical)
  • Purposeful and excessive littering on shared space of a property
Two neighbours living close by each other with shared living space

Click here for a more in depth guide on what is considered anti-social behaviour by the metropolitan police in the UK.

How to avoid anti-social behaviour in the first place

While this is more of a prevention tactic, being able to prevent anti-social behaviour from occurring is extremely useful.

One of the first things you can do as a neighbour is to establish a rapport with your neighbours from the very beginning. Simple things like checking in on a neighbour, or having a light conversation between fences as you see them can be great ways to develop a friendship.

Secondly, reducing the ability for neighbours to conduct anti-social or intimidating behaviour is another tactic. Asking to be invited to any large gathering they may have that is going to affect your livelihood anyway because of the noise involved can be recommended. 

Other than this, keeping your personal belongings behind closed doors, reducing litter if necessary and making sure you are a good neighbour just too could be great for preventing a neighbour from retaliating.

What are the ways a landlord should complain about intimidating neighbours?

It is standard advice that a landlord should encourage a tenant to do all they can to complain about an intimidating neighbour. However, there are a few things a landlord can do that give them additional power in the situation and a landlord still has a duty of care over their tenants to make sure they are in a safe, respectable living environment.

Talk to tenants frequently

Talking to tenants will allow you to find issues early on. If they are able to tell you about a neighbour that isn’t treating them very nicely, you could visit the property and speak to any neighbours yourself.

Often, neighbours will see a landlord as more authoritative and a landlord may just be better versed at dealing with people in general so they are able to diffuse situations and come to an agreement. Keeping up to date with tenants in this way is a crucial part of tenant management.

Evict intimidating tenants if applicable

Sometimes, the neighbours that tenants complain about could be in the same property that the complaining tenant is also in, as if they all lived in a HMO. This means a landlord has the power to evict a tenant for the benefit of tenants who complain.

In fact, severe offences of anti-social behaviour are breaches of a tenancy agreement that give landlords the right to evict a tenant straight away under section 8. This can be done in as little as two months If you’re wondering how much notice a landlord must give a tenant to move out.

What should you do if children are being bullied by neighbours?

When children are involved in disputes between neighbours, unless there is a threat of physical violence between them, these kinds of disputes are often taken a lot less seriously as real cases of there being intimidating neighbours between adults often have more profound reasoning behind them.

In this case, it is recommended to get the guardians of the children involved to resolve things. But if it results in threats of violence, it would then be reasonable to escalate cases like this to local authorities.

Teenagers arguing as neighbours

In conclusion

Having troublesome neighbours is an unfortunate circumstance of living in a property as a tenant. It is vital that everyone in this situation exercises all the power they have to get rid of neighbours or the behaviour that is causing disruption.

However, having a methodical strategy is also recommended as there are times when you may as well leave intimidating tenants alone, at least temporarily. So use your judgement and understand the options you have available to you before you start taking action as a landlord or tenant.

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