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How trying to be a helpful landlord can be unhelpful!

January 22, 2010

Today I have learned a valuable lesson about being helpful…and when helping may not be as helpful as it first seems!

The issue started about one year ago. New tenants of mine had moved into a ground floor flat. About 3 months after they moved in I received a phone call from the neighbour above (she had been given my number from the block management company). She had called me to complain about the volume of the music the tenant was playing. She was most insistent that it was up to me to control my tenant’s behaviour and that something should be done.  Not wanting to appear unhelpful, I said that I would have a word with my tenant about the music volume.  I then duly called the tenant and asked if he could please make sure his music wasn’t too loud….

2 months later I received another call from the neighbour. She claimed that his behaviour had resorted back to playing loud music at unsocial hours and it was affecting her ability to go to work.  Again, I contacted my tenant – this time by letter – and asked politely again if he could keep a check on the volume of his music…

1 month later I receive another phone call from the neighbour – claiming I had done nothing and that the tenant was ruining her life with his noise and she could no longer cope. She informed me she had also told the management company. Later that day, the management company contacted me and told me I had to do something about the noise the tenant was making. I called the tenant and asked him about these incidents. The tenant was most put out, claimed that the music was very quiet and that he was being made to feel he could no longer live in his house.  He also claimed he felt he was being victimised as he was a tenant and they were flat owners and so everybody was siding with them. I agreed that this was not right and said as such to the management company.

1 month later – another phone call from both the managing agents and the neighbour.  I said to both they need to take this up directly with the tenant. Both of them disagreed and said that I, as the owner, am also liable for his behaviour and that I should inform him of his noise.

Wednesday 8.30am the neighbour calls me screaming down the phone about how my tenant is ruining her life. Her husband also calls me and claims he is going to take legal action against me as I have not done anything about the tenant. They are now going to have to sell the flat as they cannot cope. They have informed the management company and the directors. The managing agents call me and inform me I have to get rid of the tenant….

I take advice and discover that noise complaints between neighbours is between neighbours and not something a landlord could or should get involved in. I suggest to the neighbours that they contact Environmental Health as they are the independent body who deal with noise complaints.  They have noise monitoring equipment which would then measure the level of noise. I also contact the tenant and tell him about this. I also tell him I cannot be involved in this as it is a neighbour dispute and he needs to sort this out with the neighbours.

Today, I receive a phone call from the tenant that last night he has spoken with the neighbours and they have all realised that they need to resolve these noise issues between themselves.  The threat of Environmental Health becoming involved seems to have bucked up their ideas into sorting this out.

I have to admit, this incident has made me realise that me trying to be helpful from the outset has not been helpful. Disputes between neighbours are just that – between neighbours.

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