How to deal effectively with anti-social neighbours

And anti-social behaviour becomes even worse if you live in a flat – so if you live in a leasehold block what can you do?

"Many lessees believe that managing agents, where one is employed, or the landlord have a big stick to wave at anti‐social behaviour in blocks of flats," said Brett Williams, chairman of the Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA).

"This is not so. Most leases will contain covenants which say leaseholders shall not cause, say, nuisance and annoyance to neighbours. There may be more specific restrictions such as no loud music between say 11pm and 7.30am or that floors should be carpeted.

"These clauses are all well and good but in practice difficult to enforce for several reasons. Firstly, the meaning of the covenant should be clear before considering enforcement; any benefit of doubt over the meaning will always be given to the offending lessee.

"The lease may not contain a clause that requires the landlord to enforce the covenants; if it does not there is no obligation on the landlord to take any action. Even if the lease does contain a clause requiring the landlord to enforce the covenants against other lessees (a mutual enforceability covenant) there is usually a catch; the catch is that the complaining leaseholder suffering the noise or nuisance will have to pay the landlord’s costs of enforcing the covenant."

Legal remedies open to the landlord are an injunction or forfeiture both of which could be time consuming and costly for the lessee. For these reasons, the more practical route for a landlord or his managing agent faced with distressed lessees complaining about anti‐social behaviour from neighbours, is to offer advice on how they can take better and cheaper action themselves.

To achieve this the ARMA has produced a new Lessee Advisory Note, Anti Social Behaviour.

The advisory note explains practical steps lessees can take themselves, what local authorities and the police can do and comments in more detail on the common anti-social behaviours.

It goes on to explain how ASBOs (Anti Social Behaviour Orders) and local authority injunctions can be obtained and includes information on premises closure orders. It also provides a list of where to find further information and help.

"It is never pleasant when a neighbour becomes selfish and disregards the rights and comforts of others," Williams said.
"However, we hope this new Lessee Advisory Note will help leasehold flat owners obtain their right of ‘peaceful occupation’ and understand the issues which agents and landlords face."

Have your say on this story using the comment section below