What are my rights against noisy upstairs neighbours?

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, advises on how residents in leasehold properties can protect themselves from noise and disturbance caused by their neighbours
Noisy upstairs neighbours
© Merrily Harpur (harpur.org)
Question: I own the ground-floor flat of a purpose-built maisonette. The flat above has carpet on the wooden floors but I can still hear the wood creaking, tenants talking loudly, closing doors, even turning on the light switch.

The flat owner said he has put soundproofing under the carpet and won’t do any more. Is he obliged to fix it?

Answer: Residents in leasehold properties where the living accommodation is directly below (or on top of) a fellow resident often face this problem. There may be a covenant in your lease regarding noise or nuisance. If your neighbour is in breach of the covenant, ask your landlord to enforce that covenant.

The law of private nuisance tries to protect occupiers from disturbance and may be an option for you. It is difficult to decide when noise is sufficiently serious to constitute a nuisance. The courts will look at “reasonable user” which is a law of “give and take, live and let live”.

A successful claim in nuisance could result in the award of damages and, at the discretion of the court, an injunction requiring the occupier to stop the nuisance. You could contact the environmental health department of your local authority, as they have a duty to inspect complaints. The authority is able to serve an abatement notice if it is satisfied that a nuisance exists.

You may register a complaint with the magistrates’ court, provided you have given your neighbour notice of your intention to do so. If nuisance is found to exist, an order can be made requiring it to cease.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the property team at Thring Townsend Lee & Pembertons Solicitors www.ttuk.com.

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