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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Nuisance

This page is for landlords operating in Northern Ireland.  You can find advice for tenants elsewhere on our website. Private landlords in Northern Ireland can call Landlord Advice on 028 9024 5640 and choosing option 5. 

Your local council may contact you if it has received reports about nuisance behaviour from your tenants. This will generally be in relation to rubbish or noise problems.

Noise problems

The Environmental Health Department of each council is responsible for investigating complaints about noise. When a complaint about excessive noise is received by the council, they will normally visit the residence to find out what is causing the noise.

Noise control officers at the council can offer advice on reducing noise and dealing with issues informally. If more formal action is required they can investigate the type and level of disturbance. If the council's officers agree that the disturbance constitutes a nuisance they can serve a Noise Abatement Notice on the people causing the nuisance.

As the landlord of the property, it is unlikely that you will become involved in issues around noise unless a fault with the building is contributing to the nuisance. Neighbours may contact you to complain if they have contact details for you or know that you are the owner of the property. You may wish to reason with your tenants or check if the tenancy agreement has any specific terms relating to nuisance.

Rubbish issues

Tenants will normally expect the landlord of a property to provide sufficient rubbish bins to accommodate the household. If your property is a House in Multiple Occupation the Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1993 require you to provide sufficient means to dispose of rubbish. If you fail to comply with this legislation, the Housing Executive can compel you to purchase a bin.

While you may have a duty to provide a bin for your tenants, your tenants are expected to arrange for the disposal of rubbish according to local council provisions. Tenants should ensure that bins or recycling containers are emptied on a regular basis and that rubbish is not allowed to build up in or around the property.

Large amounts of rubbish attract pests and can cause a serious nuisance to neighbours. The local council is responsible for enforcing legislation relating to public health and can issue a fine if it believes that a build up of rubbish is causing a nuisance.

Talk to your tenants about their behaviour if they are failing to dispose of rubbish adequately or are storing rubbish in a way that creates a safety or fire hazard. If your tenants' bin has been stolen, you should replace it. However, if you can prove that it has been stolen due to the tenants' negligence you may be able to use some of their deposit to cover the cost.

Disputes between housemates

Relationship breakdowns can have a significant impact on your tenants. This could be a breakup between a couple or a falling out between friends. Your tenants may contact you to find out what their options are under these circumstances.

If your tenants have a tenancy agreement, everyone who has signed the agreement will be bound by it until it expires. If your tenants do not have a tenancy agreement and have been in the property for longer than 6 months they are entitled to serve you with a Notice to Quit of at least 4 weeks' duration and move out of the tenancy.

Generally, when one joint tenant gives notice this effectively ends the entire tenancy.  You should either

  • find a new tenant for the property and set up a new joint tenancy agreements
  • draw up a new tenancy agreement that covrs the remaining tenants and makes them jointly responsible for rent for the entire property
  • give each of the remaining tenants their own tenancy agreement

A tenant may wish to terminate the contract early due to a relationship breakdown. If this happens, you can try to negotiate with the tenants. You are entitled to hold the tenant to the agreement and charge rent for the remainder of the term, but you should try to negotiate an agreement with the tenant. If the tenant can find another person to take over the lease you should consider this as a way of discharging the original tenant from the agreement.

If your tenants have been threatened by another housemate or fear for their personal safety, you should encourage them to contact the police.

Neighbour disputes

If your tenants are causing a nuisance in the neighbourhood other people living in the area may contact you, if they have your details, or the letting agent managing the property to complain. There is very little you can do in these circumstances, unless the tenants are in breach of their tenancy agreement.

Encourage your tenants to speak with the neighbours and to try to resolve the situation amicable. If the situation gets worse the parties involved may want to use mediation as a way of solving the problem.