Quiet enjoyment – what does it mean?

by Readers Question

9:54 AM, 10th April 2015
About 6 years ago

Quiet enjoyment – what does it mean?

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Quiet enjoyment – what does it mean?

I am a landlord myself, but a friend of mine who is a tenant is at her wits end. She’s been in a ground floor conversion flat for nearly 2 years with a tenancy that ends in February with no break clause.

She and her husband are disturbed night after night by the tenants upstairs and are getting very little sleep. Maybe just an hour or so consecutively! The neighbours are young students so there is always someone in and making a noise. A lot of the noise is caused by poor insulation. My friend can no longer stand it and just wants to end the tenancy.

What does ‘quiet enjoyment’ actually mean?

  • Is it not being disturbed by the landlord
  • Does it spread wider to something that the landlord has no control over.

They are very placid people and not in the slightest bit difficult. I’ve had a trawl through past discussions but can’t find anything that fits this one. I’ve never had this issue and generally if a tenant of mine wants to leave I just let them go.

Many thanks

Elizabethquiet enjoyment

Comments

Romain Garcin

17:41 PM, 10th April 2015
About 6 years ago

To answer the specific question: My understanding is that "quiet enjoyment" is not about silence. Noisy neighbours, whom are not under the landlord's control, do not constitute a breach of quiet enjoyment.

Ian Narbeth

18:07 PM, 10th April 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain " at "10/04/2015 - 17:41":

The best way to think of the covenant for quiet enjoyment is that the landlord must not do anything that is inconsistent with the landlord/tenant relationship.

We don't know if the landlord is also landlord of the students so they might be subject to a lease which contains covenants against creating nuisance or disturbance to neighbours. That being so the landlord could enforce against them. Failing that the freeholder may be able to do so. The lease (though probably not an AST) should include a covenant to enforce the terms of other leases in the buildings so that may be the route to a solution.

Sue J

18:14 PM, 10th April 2015
About 6 years ago

The management company also has a responsibility of 'quiet enjoyment' within the terms of the lease between flats and can become involved if there is unreasonable noise disturbance. It doesn't sound though that the tenants above are acting unreasonably but that it is the insulation or lack of it which is the cause. This is a very common problem and one which has now been rectified by the new building regs on new flats but not much help to existing properties. Your friend could try to appeal to the landlord or their agents to say that the noise problem will affect any new tenants booking the flat and that the landlord might want to carry out some noise attenuation works such as double plasterboarding the ceiling which might help to reduce the noise. There are limitations though as to how much more the landlord could do beyond this.

JohnCaversham

19:03 PM, 10th April 2015
About 6 years ago

Hi, I've had similar problems before..Q Is the property properly converted with official permissions or has it been poorly converted at some point in the past? As it sounds (no pun intended!) like it could well be a sub standard conversion without building regs etc and if so there could well be fire regulation issues too which are for more serious for obvious reasons..
Definitely check it out with your local council, and although its tough on a fellow landlord i would let the council know if the property if its not officially converted or has retrospective permissions...
J

Neil Arnold

10:04 AM, 11th April 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Patterson" at "10/04/2015 - 10:00":

Unfortunately that's from a US dictionary - UK tenants are always advised never to withhold rent. The quiet enjoyment right does not oblige landlords to deal with noisy neighbours, however the local council is usually able to assist, and it would, of course, usually be in the landlords interest to deal with such nuisance.

Mark Alexander

11:03 AM, 11th April 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Neil Arnold" at "11/04/2015 - 10:04":

Hi Neil

I agree and have mentioned this to Neil P before, withholding rent in the UK if not a tenants right, no excuses!
.

Tim Wragby

6:28 AM, 12th April 2015
About 6 years ago

Some very good comments & observations above but I would add the following:
I am sorry your friends are ha ing such a torrid time
Their landlord would be almost. certainly found to be in breech of the tenancy agreement if reasonable steps were not taken to resolve the situation and it could be deemed as harassment by the courts and. costly to the landlord. But they would require good evidence inc reports from council environmental health.
Also the student tenants above will almost certainly be breaching g their tenNcy agreement which will have a clause about quiet hours and being good neighbours. Leaning on them via their agent/landlord could be quicker as a threat of action/legal by someone who hold authority over them can work they are breaching their tenancy agreement and can be removed. Get your friends landlord to write a strongly worded letter to the other landlord as both could e held liable.
Lastly your friends managing agent has to be a member of an ombudsman service. Ask the agent of your friends property who is the person to make a formal complaint to and which ombudsman service they are a member of. Get your friends to write to the person concerned & find out the complaints process. if the agent knows that someone is going more formal it will hopefully get them to start being more proactive.
A solicitor's letter to the landlord via the agent threatening court action for harassment for breach of quiet enjoyment etc could also be the "nuclear option" that elicits the speediest response!!

Neil Arnold

7:18 AM, 12th April 2015
About 6 years ago

Unfortunately, quiet enjoyment isn't the right tack in this instance. The quiet enjoyment clause of a tenancy refers to the landlord not interfering with the tenancy, for example by harassing the tenant, entering the property unannounced etc. It does not make the landlord liable for the behaviour of neighbours, and doesn't refer to tenants having a right to "quiet".
The only real options in this case are to approach the landlords in question, and failing that approaching the local environmental health department who would be able to arrange noise monitoring and, if necessary, action on noise abatement grounds.

Ian Narbeth

9:45 AM, 13th April 2015
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Tim Wragby" at "12/04/2015 - 06:28":

"Their landlord would be almost. certainly found to be in breech of the tenancy agreement if reasonable steps were not taken to resolve the situation and it could be deemed as harassment by the courts and. costly to the landlord. But they would require good evidence inc reports from council environmental health."

Sorry, this is almost certainly completely wrong. We need to see the documents and get all the facts but I am very doubtful the landlord is liable for breach of quiet enjoyment. As has been noted elsewhere the landlord may not be responsible for the behaviour of the neighbours and, moreover, if all the students are doing is living normally but the problem is a poorly designed or constructed conversion the landlord may have no responsibility at all. I cannot see how in any sane world the courts will hold the landlord guilty of harassment for not stopping the tenants from causing a disturbance.

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