How can we silence noisy neighbours?

My son recently bought a ground-floor flat but having moved in, he finds the noise from the upstairs flat unbearable. What can he do?
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Question: My son recently bought a ground-floor flat but having moved in, he finds the noise from the upstairs flat unbearable. He can hear all their conversations and every footstep. This is because their flat has wooden floors. He wants to remain friends with his neighbours and doesn't want to sell. So what can he do? 

Answer: Your son should look at the terms of his lease. All the leases for the various flats in the building are likely to be on similar terms and contain similar covenants and restrictions.

Modern leases often include covenants stating that flats must not have wooden floors unless they are insulated to a very high specification, or that floors must be covered in carpets or some other soundinsulating material that prevents noise travelling. There is also likely to be a covenant regarding noise and/ or nuisance.

As your son is keen to remain on good terms with his neighbours, he should contact them and explain the situation — perhaps inviting them down to his home while getting someone to move about or talk in the upstairs flat, so the neighbours can hear for themselves how easily the sound travels. He should invite them to either cover their floors with carpets or to install sound-insulating materials, and explain to them that they are in breach of the terms of their lease.

If your son is really keen to resolve matters amicably and can afford to pay a contribution to the cost of soundproofing the floor between the flats, he could offer to do so.

If the neighbours refuse to resolve the situation your son should ask his landlord to enforce the covenants against them. If he decides to sell, he will have to disclose the noise issue to prospective buyers.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. 

These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor. 

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