Tackling anti-social tenant behaviour in your contracts

Lorraine DindiLorraine Dindi
Last updated on:
February 3, 2022
Published on:
November 9, 2021

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Learning from south Liverpool’s ongoing crisis.

Reports from communities living near student properties in south Liverpool complain of “contempt and disrespect” and “hell for local people” after several incidents of anti-social behaviour in the last few weeks. We look at how landlords and letting agents can combat such damaging behaviour at a key stage in the renting process: when creating and signing the tenancy agreement.

How to protect yourself agains anti-social tenant behaviour in your tenancy agreement

As the main document governing the relationship between landlord and tenant, the tenancy agreement is the prime place to specify what behaviour is expected of tenants on the premises. In no unclear terms, you must go beyond simply addressing how the property and its furnishings are to be used— you must anticipate how the tenant is likely to live. This includes clauses discussing music levels, size and frequency of gatherings at the property, cleanliness, garbage and refuse etc. 

How do you define anti-social behaviour?

Legislate’s tenancy agreements, for instance, define anti-social behaviour and list several examples of what a tenant can do that will amount to such behaviour. References are made to vandalism, violence, harassment, assault, bringing weapons on the property, engaging in illegal activities, assaulting the landlord or their representatives etc. Where there are legal limits on something, such as the time when loud music can be played, the contract must communicate this. The effect of such clauses is to adequately anticipate antisocial behaviour and outlaw it with the tenant’s knowledge and consent.

In houses with more than one tenant, the tenancy agreement must also oversee cooperation between the tenants. This is especially important when the tenants’ liability is joint and several. Joint tenants are liable for each other, which means that they should be on the same page about what behavior is not allowed on the premises. For student houses, Legislate offers student tenancy agreements which make it a contractual requirement for tenants not to do things which will negatively impact other tenant’s studies. 

In both HMOs (House in multiple occupation) and bedsits with shared facilities, it is crucial that the tenants behave in ways that are not unreasonably detrimental to others. The effects of this may be the landlord losing their license to rent that particularly property. 

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What happens if there is anti-social behaviour during the tenancy?

Where a tenant fails to meet their duty to restrain from antisocial behaviour under their tenancy agreement, this is a breach of contract. Depending on the severity of that breach, you may be able to serve a section 8 notice of repossession. The efficacy of this process depends on several factors such as (i) how effectively you communicated the duty to maintain the property to a hospitable standard and not be a nuisance to neighbours (which is achieved by having a robust contract), and (ii) the accuracy with which you satisfied your other legal requirements at the start and throughout the tenancy (which is also facilitated by having a good tenancy agreement which informs you of your official legal responsibilities as landlord). 

Having a thorough and understandable tenancy agreement is immensely valuable for both landlord and tenant. A good tenancy agreement anticipates problems and disputes before they even happen, and appropriately addresses them. The rights and duties of each party, particularly in regard to anti-social behaviour, are expressed, and so the are the consequences of breaching these duties.

How can you avoid anti-social behaviour in the first place?

While a landlord or their agent cannot physically control what a tenant does, there is plenty that can be done to ensure that scenes such as those taking place in Southern Liverpool communities do not occur in your rental’s neighbourhood. Be diligent, and use your contract to lawfully tackle anti-social tenant behaviour. 

From looking for the right tenant to making a property safe, creating a tenancy agreement is only one of several responsibilities of a landlord. Legislate is a contracting platform where you can create easy-to-understand and legally valid agreements on your own terms. You can read how to create your first Legislate agreements in our tutorial and watch a short demo. If you would like to try Legislate, please book an introductory call.

The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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