Anti-social behaviour: landlord responsibilities

Responsibilities landlords have in relation to ASB.

Last updated: 11 October 2023

Next review: 11 October 2024

Private landlords with properties registered under the private rented property licence (also known as ‘selective licensing’), have responsibilities in relation to measures to prevent and combat anti-social behaviour (ASB).

We want to reduce incidences of anti-social behaviour from tenants in private rented accommodation. For this reason, a selective licence comes with a set of conditions that landlords must comply with. As a general guide, landlords are responsible for ensuring that anti-social behaviour is addressed at the earliest opportunity and dealt with appropriately.

We expect landlords to actively work to prevent, identify and stop ASB. Landlords can do this by following these guidelines:

  • prevent - by adhering to the conditions attached to the licence (see 'licence conditions' below)
  • identify - by making the checks required under the conditions of the licence 
  • stop - informing the tenants of the consequences and then taking appropriate action if they are ignored:
    • in mild or one-off cases - issuing a written warning to say the landlord may take action to seek possession if ASB is repeated
    • in more severe cases - taking immediate possession proceedings to end the tenancy

What is anti-social behaviour by a tenant?

A tenant’s anti-social behaviour is any activity that causes harm to the community or to the environment. This includes any action that leaves neighbours, or others in the community:

  • feeling alarmed, harassed or distressed
  • in fear of crime or concerned for public safety
  • experiencing public disorder or public nuisance

Examples of tenant’s anti-social behaviour include:

  • being nuisance, rowdy or inconsiderate neighbours
  • vandalism, graffiti and fly-posting
  • environmental damage such as littering, dumping rubbish and abandoning cars
  • activities related to prostitution
  • misuse of fireworks
  • inconsiderate or inappropriate use of vehicles

Licence conditions and landlord responsibilities

Here are the conditions of selective licences that relate specifically to anti-social behaviour of tenants.

For tenancies that began after 1 April 2015, landlords must:

  • get references for proposed new tenants
  • provide tenants with written rental terms and conditions. These must include:
    • a statement that no refuse/rubbish must be kept in the front or rear gardens, other than in any refuse storage facilities provided
    • a clause holding the occupants responsible for any anti-social behaviour by themselves and/or their visitors. The landlord must let all occupants know about this clause as soon as they move in

For all tenancies (regardless of start date), landlords must:

  • ensure that yards and gardens are maintained in reasonable repair and are kept in a clean and tidy condition and free from infestations
  • make regular inspections to ensure the property is in a decent state of repair and that aren’t any breaches of the tenancy terms and conditions
  • ensure that rubbish we don’t routinely collect (such as large items or hazardous waste) is disposed of responsibly and safely
  • respond to complaints of ASB that concern occupants or their visitors
  • inform the tenant within 14 days after discovering ASB, notifying them of the of consequences they may face if it doesn’t stop
  • keep records of correspondence and/ or written notes relating to ASB for five years period. If we request to see details, landlords should make them available to us 

Specific responsibilities: rubbish disposal

At the beginning of a tenancy, the landlord should:

  • make tenants aware of the correct ways to dispose of rubbish and recycling - through our household rubbish and recycling services
  • ensure there are enough bins (and other rubbish and recycling receptacles from our range) at the property - particularly where there are lots of people living in the property

Landlords should also respond promptly and appropriately to any issues identified by us, such as fly-tipping or repeated contamination of recycling bins with non-recyclable rubbish.

Specific responsibilities: premises operating as brothels

We view premises operating as brothels as a most serious form of anti-social behaviour. Many standard tenancy agreements contain a clause that prohibits a property being used for ‘illegal or immoral purposes’.

If a landlord or their agent determines that their rented property is being used as a brothel or for an ‘illegal or immoral’ purpose, we expect them to take immediate steps to end the tenancy.

If landlords fail to deal with ASB - our powers

We have a variety of powers that we use to combat incidences of ASB.

Our officers can provide advice and assistance to landlords, their tenants and the wider neighbourhood, to address issues.

However, we can take formal action against landlords who fail to satisfactorily deal with their tenants’ ASB.

Reducing ASB

Our officers carry out a range of activities to support a reduction in ASB from privately rented homes. These include:

  • investigating complaints, speaking to neighbours and alleged perpetrators
  • arranging/ facilitating/ attending meetings with landlords/ agents, tenants and external agencies such as the police, with a view to resolving ASB
  • investigating ASB pro-actively - such as looking into fly-tipping hotspots
  • highlighting ASB issues to landlords - such as if a tenant is identified as causing a noise nuisance
  • providing general legal advice to landlords and tenants – such as about the eviction procedure
  • providing guidance to landlords – such as our example warning letters, they can download and send to tenants causing ASB
  • monitoring a landlord’s response and effectiveness in resolving identified ASB
  • taking strong and appropriate enforcement action wherever necessary

Formal action against landlords

If the ASB issues are serious, or identified ASB issues aren’t satisfactorily dealt with, we will consider one or more formal actions. These may include:

  • serving a formal notice – such as for dealing with noise or rubbish disposal issues
  • prosecution for breach of licence conditions (if the property is licensed)
  • imposing financial penalties or starting prosecution proceedings
  • refusing a property licence application
  • revoking a property licence

Please note, it's an offence to let out a licensable property without a licence.

Landlord template letters