Interlet's guide to dealing with Noisy Neighbours...
In a recent case a female banker was awarded damages of £ 100,000 due to “intolerable” noise from the young family living next door. She stated that “the neighbours’ children had treated their flat like a ‘playground’, running around at all hours.”
The ugly truth is that if you live in an apartment/flat, semi-detached house or maisonette much of your enjoyment of your property will depend on the graciousness of your neighbours. These types of properties remain popular in the UK, predominantly in large cities, where space is an issue. Usually, noise problems can be solved by having a quick word with your neighbour. However, you do have legal remedies as a last resort.
Interlet has come up with a few solutions for you to consider when faced with issues:
1. Try to compromise with your neighbour
In a vast majority of cases, a quick chat sorts the problem out. Pick your moment, express your concerns freely and aim for a compromise. Most people do not realise that they have caused disturbance and may be ashamed that noise has affected others around them.
Remember to take a balanced view and remain rational. They have the right to enjoy their property too.
Try to negotiate, for example, ask them to warn you next time they have a party so you can make alternative plans, or request any loud music be stopped at a specific time agreed by both of you.
2. Talk to the landlord or the letting agency/ or look into the leasehold agreement
If your neighbour is a tenant and the issue has not been resolved, contact their landlord or letting agency. Usually tenancies have a clause prohibiting activities causing annoyance to neighbours.
Letting agents should notify the tenants of complaints, and this can be done anonymously. It can also be helpful to look into the leasehold agreement for the building, depending on the noise that is pestering you.
The leasehold agreement may have terms governing flooring types. In many cases the lease prohibit wooden flooring or laminate flooring on upper floors of any converted house. If your neighbours have fitted wooden flooring or stripped out the carpets, speak to the owner of the lease on the building, as they will see this is put right. In most cases, laying carpet will significantly cut down noise transferring to your flat.
Alternatively lack of acoustic insulation between floors may be why you are suffering. Building control normally requires insulation between floors, to stop noise from transmitting.
3. Contact your local authority
The Noise Act 1996 and other connected legislation, requires local councils to investigate any noise believed to be a ‘nuisance.’ If all else fails, you can make a complaint to your local authority. If your council concludes the noise is a nuisance, they can issue an Abatement Notice. The notice may require the noise should stop entirely, be reduced to a specific level, or be confined to certain times of the day. If your neighbour fails to fulfil the terms on the notice, they can be fined up to £5,000 (and if it’s a business up to £20,000).
If the nuisance becomes more than just incidental noise, and or you feel harassed or endangered, as a last resort, then it may be time to call the police.