Q: Over the last three years, one of our residents, who is a leaseholder, has been having heated arguments within their flat including shouting, banging of furniture, slamming of doors at all hours of the day and night. On one occasion the lady of the flat commenced cleaning her bathroom with petrol at 00:30 am to the extent the Fire Brigade were called due to the toxic fumes causing concern to the other residents.
We have sent numerous letters and emails to the resident concerned and it does recede for a short period, but still continues. This week the tenant of the flat below moved out citing deteriorating health and being unable to sleep or relax due to constant shouting and loud conversations. The lady has been a tenant for over 25 years.
Her landlord has again written to the noisy neighbour stating that her new tenants will be moving in shortly and have small children, and the fear is that they too may be driven away by the unsocial behaviour of these leaseholders. She says she has sought legal advice that if her new tenants leave due to their behaviour she will seek loss of rent and legal costs.
Is there any other recourse or legal action that we as an association can take to stop the nuisance behaviour continuing?
FPRA Chairman Bob Smytherman replies:
These are really difficult situations, especially when warning letters are just seen as provocative. With regards possible action, it is for the local authority to deal with and take action for anti-social behaviour and should be involved at an early opportunity to collect the necessary evidence.
This evidence could also be used by yourselves to take action for possible breach in the terms of the lease. I am not a lawyer but from experience bringing such matters to court are not easy and would require very clear evidence from statutory authorities such as the Fire Service and Environmental Health as well as being potentially costly.
My advice would be to seek local authority action which can lead to Anti Social Behaviour Orders to force a change in behaviour or face the full force of the criminal law. Providing you take all reasonable steps to prevent this anti-social behaviour I would think it would very difficult to seek redress from the association for loss of rent from a departing tenant.
[Submitted August 2016]