Under the new HMO regime, HMO owners and managers must deal with anti-social behaviour much more proactively. You must have a policy or plan to deal with any anti-social behaviour caused by or affecting the people living in your HMO.
What counts as anti-social behaviour?
Anti-social behaviour is acting or threatening to act in a way that causes or could annoyance to other people in the neighbourhood. It includes things like:
- Violence or threatening violence;
- Hate crimes;
- Hosting noisy parties, having music or television turned up very loud or otherwise causing a noise disturbance;
- Having unsightly rubbish, litter or discarded items left around the property and its exterior;
- Offensive drunkenness;
- Intimidating or harassing other people;
- Use of the accommodation for unlawful purposes, such as selling or using drugs.
Minimising the risk of tenants becoming involved in anti-social behaviour
You may want to ask new tenants to provide a character reference. You should only ask for a reference from a previous landlord if you are going to give any outgoing tenants the same service free of charge.
Your tenancy agreement should clearly explain the type of behaviour that will not be tolerated and what will happen to tenants who are found to have engaged in this kind of behaviour.
It’s also advisable to speak to each incoming tenant about your anti-social behaviour policy and to give each tenant a copy of this.
Dealing with complaints about anti-social behaviour
Complaints about anti-social behaviour could come from your tenants, neighbours or local businesses or groups.
Your HMO licence conditions will probably require that you keep a log of all complaints and of your response to these. These records will be important when it comes to renewing your licence as they can help you to pass the “fit and proper” person test.
Your response to complaints about your tenants or property could include:
- speaking to the person against whom the complaint was made to request a change in behaviour;
- improving or adapting the property to minimise any nuisance (e.g. reducing noise pollution or providing additional bins for residents);
- contacting your tenant’s guarantor to make them aware of the issue and ask them to advise the tenant of the severity of the situation;
- using mediation services to try to resolve disputes, where there is no clear aggressor and victim;
- taking action to evict the tenant, if the anti-social behaviour is criminal, serious or prolonged.