Question: I live on the ground floor of a house. The tenant in the top flat is a fitness fanatic and exercises into the early hours of the morning, sometimes until 7am.
© Merrily Harpur
I have brought up the issue with her many times but she carries on regardless. As well as keeping me awake with her jumping around all over the flat, cracks have appeared in the ceiling since she moved in. What I can do?
Answer: More than you think. You could report the situation (including those cracks) to your council's environmental health department, which has a duty to inspect such complaints. The council can serve an abatement notice if it is satisfied that a nuisance exists or is likely to occur. This will require your neighbour to stop being a nuisance or risk a fine in the magistrates' court.
You could lodge a complaint directly at the magistrates' court, provided you have given your neighbour notice of your intention to do so and explained why. If the court is satisfied that a nuisance exists it may make an order requiring the nuisance to stop. Alternatively, you could pursue a claim of private nuisance in the courts. The law of private nuisance aims to protect occupiers of neighbouring properties from unreasonable disturbance.
Noise as a source of nuisance is very subjective and it is a question of degree but the courts look at what is reasonable behaviour, bearing in mind the principle of "give and take, live and let live".
In this case, the court may award you damages and order an injunction requiring your neighbour to stop her nocturnal activities.
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Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.