The Coronavirus pandemic has been worrying and stressful on so many levels. The worry of keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from a harmful virus is enough. Yet, combining this with lockdown and too many life changes overnight, losing your job can just add to the ever growing stress, worry and loneliness. 

The government has had a blanket approach so far in financially helping people, by offering some companies the option to furlough existing staff and offering to pay 80% of salaries through PAYE. Yet some people have slipped through the net, with companies pulling roles and not being able to furlough staff if they’re not on the payroll in time. Some HR departments have said that furloughing staff can cause a range of issues for them with time and resources. Other companies just simply haven’t done it and made redundancies.  

Freelancers and companies can get government grants, however this hasn’t covered everyone. Thousands of individuals have been left looking for jobs at a time when things have stood still.

This has left people without adequate financial help and the only other support has been Universal Credit/job seekers allowance. If people are renting, often the housing benefit doesn’t cover the cost of the rental amount and so this needs to be topped up with Universal Credit. This doesn’t leave much room for Council Tax (even with a reduction), bills and food. For some renters, they’ve had to make the decision between paying rent and affording food. 

The economic impact of lockdown has hit people unequally but it has caused immediate impacts on mental health. The Mental Health Foundation reports that  “a quarter reported not coping well with the stress of the pandemic (twice as many as those in employment), almost half were worried about not having enough food to meet basic needs.”

Credit: Mark Oliver Paquin

First steps to take 

  1. If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn’t cover all of your rent and you need more money, you could make a claim for a discretionary housing payment (DHP). A DHP is extra money from your local council to help pay your rent. 
  2. You could also look to get a council tax reduction if you haven’t already done it here.
  3. Check out the benefits calculator too,  to see if there is any additional support you can get. 
  4.  4. You may also be able to speak to your utilities company and try and get a payment plan to help with the costs, discover more.

Speak to your landlord

If you’re unable to get additional financial help and still you’re struggling to pay your rent, speak to your landlord as soon as possible. Please let them know what your situation is and that you’re struggling. They may be able to come to an arrangement. Perhaps you could pay half of your rent and then when you’re back on your feet, you can increase it over the coming months. Landlords would rather know the situation than receive radio silence and then no money at the end of the month. Your landlord may even be able to have a mortgage break and then pass this break on to you. 

If you aren’t able to come to an agreement with your landlord, get in touch with Citizens Advice who can signpost you to a range of help and advice. 

Credit: Co-worker

Speak to housemates

If you’re a lodger in a property, then speak to your live-in landlord and see if you could take on some additional work to lower your rent like cleaning. If you live with other housemates too, look to club together to buy food to help reduce your costs. Perhaps see if you could distribute the rent amongst yourselves differently to help each other out – if others are in a more stable position.  

Can I be evicted if I can’t keep up with the repayments?

Your landlord can’t evict you if you don’t keep up with your rental payments as there is now a tenant eviction ban in place until 31st March 2020. Your landlord will have to give you six months notice to leave. This doesn’t apply where there is domestic abuse or anti-social behaviour within a property. 

If domestic abuse is occurring within a property that you are in, get in touch with the National Domestic Abuse helpline. If you’re in life threatening trouble, ring 999 and if once dialed you can’t speak, press 55. 

We would strongly urge tenants to seek as much financial support as they can get and to be open and honest with their landlord about their current situation. 

We understand that dealing with financial worries can result in a range of issues and if you are struggling with your mental health as a result, please check out these links for advice and support.

There’s nothing worse than a noisy neighbour, in fact noisy tenants with no volume control are one of the biggest causes of complaint to landlords.

But what are our tenants up to that is so loud? The most common complaints we hear at Howsy include:

  • Noise from pets
  • DIY
  • Parties / loud music
  • Shouting / Loud voices
  • Unattended car alarms

All very frustrating noises to live next door to.

However, there are some noises that, whilst possibly very maddening to listen to are not classed as anti-social behaviour and cannot be addressed by local authorities. These include:

  • Traffic, trains and planes
  • Children playing inside or outside the property
  • DIY activities during the daytime or early evening (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm / Saturdays 8am-1pm)
  • Noise resulting from the ordinary use of a property (Including footsteps, doors closing, toilets flushing, and household appliances being used during the day time and early evenings).
  • Fireworks before 11pm, except on certain dates (until midnight on 5 November, until 1am following the first day of Chinese New Year, until 1am on the day following Diwali day, until 1am on the day following 31 December)

But what can you do if your noisy tenant is causing upset? Before you start delivering ear plugs, there are a few options to try…

Who is responsible for noisy tenants?

Whilst as a landlord you do have plenty of legal responsibilities (you can read more about them here) you are under no legal obligation act on unnecessary noise complaints from a neighbour. However, it is in your best interest to ensure that neighbours are happy – after all, they are your eyes and ears and it is important to keep on their good side.   Wherever possible, it is always good to help smooth troubles waters if you can.

Whilst unlikely to contain a specific ‘noise clause’, some tenancy agreements will contain a clause requiring your tenant to not do anything in the property that causes them to be a ‘nuisance’, and all-night parties every evening would certainly contravene that clause. In this instance, you would be within your right to start section 21 proceedings against the tenant on the basis of a tenancy breach, eventually ending in eviction (however it is unlikely that many landlords would do so if the individual was an otherwise good tenant, and the party was a one-off)!

How to deal with noisy tenants

Very often, having a chat to your tenants can be the best first step to managing this issue. Keep things light and friendly, and mention to them that their actions are causing distress. They may not be aware that whilst they may find heavy metal relaxing to fall asleep to, their habit is causing their neighbours sleepless nights! Try and work with them to come up with a solution to the problem. For example, if the noise levels from their midnight trumpet practice are keeping everyone else awake, rather than demanding they stop entirely, ask if it would be possible for them to stop at 10pm – meet in the middle!

Popping them a message after your chat can be a good idea. A quick text to say ‘thanks for being so understanding about my noise concerns when we spoke earlier, hope your trumpet concert goes well!’ is simple and to the point, but reiterates the chat, and also gives you written and dated proof that the conversation took place.

This evidence is also useful if the causal chat doesn’t work and you need to move to the next step, involving the local council. Collecting evidence that you have tried to remedy the situation yourself is key, as is collecting as much detail about the noise as you can.

It can be difficult for official bodies to investigate noise nuisances, as often it can be sporadic and takes place at inconvenient hours. Making sure you ask the complainant to make clear audio recordings of the noise when it happens (recordings on a phone is fine) and logging the times and dates could be invaluable to a subsequent investigation.

What to do if you live next to a noisy tenant

If you are the suffering neighbour living next to a noisy tenant, contacting their private landlord, housing association or the freeholder can be a good place to start if you would like to elevate the situation. Whilst ideally you would give your neighbours a friendly knock and have a chat with them about the noise issues, in some cases it can be easier to alert the landlord immediately, and ask them to manage the situation on your behalf.

What if that doesn’t work?

If reasoning with the noisy tenant doesn’t work, the last resort would be to involve your Local Authority’s Environmental Health Department. Legally, this department has a responsibility to manage any noise disturbance that is considered to be a ‘statutory nuisance’ under the  Environmental Protection Act 1990, which includes anything which is considered to ‘unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises’ or ‘injure health or be likely to injure health’. However, they are reliant on evidence to process a case – so audio recordings, dates and details are vital here.

Once a case is underway, the occupier will receive a letter saying that they are the subject of an investigation regarding noise disturbance, however your identity as a complainant is kept confidential (many neighbours and landlords choose to skip straight to this route for this very reason). Having examined the evidence, if it is deemed that the noise problem is too loud and the tenant isn’t willing to do anything about it, the council can issue an abatement notice. This strict legal action instructs the individual to cease or limit noise it to certain time of day. A word of warning though, the abatement notice can be served on an individual or the owner of the property – potentially the landlord.

What if they do not stop?

The individual does have the right to appeal an abatement notice, but this is a strict 21-day window. If they do not launch an appeal in this time, they are not able to do so.

Once the individual has received an abatement notice from the council, it is a criminal office to fail to comply with the requirements set out in the notice. In the event of a breach of the notice, the recipient can face prosecution and a hefty fine.

Should it get to this stage, if the property is rented it is possible that the unsuspecting landlord could be facing bigger problems than a noisy tenant. There have been cases in the past of tricky tenants leaving a rental property, and disappearing, thus landing their unfortunate landlord with the fine from a breached abatement notice!

Howsy’s Top Tips

  • If you have a noisy neighbour, notify landlords and managing agents of any issues
  • Keep a clear record of the situation – recordings, dates and conversations
  • Raise issues to Environmental Health if not rectified
  • Be patient – Environmental Health can take up to 12 weeks to process a case
  • Closely monitor any tenants who are causing a noise nuisance – make sure they are abiding by the rules!