What can tenants do about noisy neighbours?

What can tenants do about noisy neighbours?

14:33 PM, 31st March 2021, About 4 months ago 4

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Many people have spent more time than ever before at home over the last year. Some have been trying to work from home with children, dogs and cats to look after. And what of the neighbours? Perhaps your tenant has only just realised how noisy or disruptive they are but what can they do about it?

Noise/nuisance teams

Every local or district council has an environmental health department. These teams are known as ‘Noise or Nuisance Teams’.

A nuisance can relate not just to noise that stops you doing what you normally do, for example, sleeping or watching television or even having a conversation with someone in your own home, it also includes odours, fumes, dust, smoke and fireworks (with the exception of certain festivals when times for fireworks may be extended). In fact, a nuisance can be anything that may interfere with the enjoyment of your own home.

There are certain things that noise teams are unable to deal with such as noise relating to traffic, planes, trains and some domestic noises such as, footsteps, crying babies, kitchen appliances and doors opening or closing.

Everything else is actionable. For example, neighbours playing loud music at all hours of the night. Once this has been reported to the department, they instruct a team that then contacts the complainant to enquire whether the noise is still going on. If it is, they come round and experience the noise from their home. If they believe that the noise is excessive, they can initially talk to the neighbours to ask them to refrain and give them a warning. Once the first visit has taken place, a letter gets sent to the neighbours confirming the Noise Team’s visit and explaining that, if the team is requested to visit again, a second warning will be given. On a third visit, the Team has the right to serve a notice threatening prosecution and/or seizure of equipment.

Case example:

A Victorian terraced house divided into two leasehold flats. A one-bedroom with a garden on the ground floor and a two-bedroom on the upper two floors. The owners of the ground floor flat also owned the freehold of the house. This simply means that they could collect ground rent and service charges from the owners of the upper flat. They did not ‘own’ the upper flat, as the couple that did own it had a 99-year lease. That meant that they had a right to quiet enjoyment and the right not to be disturbed in their own home.

The owners of the downstairs flat were a married couple. He was aged around mid-forties, and she was around ten years younger. They assumed that they ‘owned’ the whole house and could do what they liked. They left their doors and windows open and played heavy rock music at all hours of the day and night. Neighbours in the houses on both sides frequently complained to the top floor flat owners about how noisy the couple were, but not one of them confronted them downstairs. The owners of the top flat were repeatedly woken in the early hours of the morning by such loud music that the building vibrated. They tried to use diplomatic means to reason with the neighbours downstairs but often found them to be so drunk that they were ignored.

After two years of trying this solution, they realised that their lives were being totally disrupted by the behaviour of the neighbours downstairs. So much so, that they had to relocate their bedroom to a room on the top floor, and quite often could not watch TV, as their front room was directly above the neighbours’ sitting room. They reverted to escape this by virtually living in the top floor bedroom like hermits.

In an effort to stop this disruption, they contacted the police who informed them that they could not do anything as it was a civil matter. However, they did mention the environmental health team of the local council, and in one fell swoop, their life changed. They were now in control of the situation. Over a period of six months, they called the team out three times, and on the third visit, the Noise Team called the police as it was clear that the neighbours downstairs were inebriated and became quite aggressive. They were arrested and their music equipment was taken away.

The upstairs neighbours had suffered unduly over a period of nearly three years. You don’t have to do so. Contact your noise team as soon as you realise that your efforts to negotiate in a diplomatic way are failing. Don’t put it off.

What should your tenant do?

If they have a nuisance or noisy neighbour they should start by trying to reason with them. Sometimes people are simply not aware of the impact of their actions.

However, if reasoning fails, and the neighbours refuse to change their behaviour, they should call the ‘noise team’ of the local council. It will help a lot if they have been able to keep a diary of the dates, times and type of disruption. This will help the noise team.  The noise team need to hear the noise or witness the disruption for themselves, so if they can determine a pattern, this will help them visit at the appropriate time and can move the process forward much quicker.  Also keep a log of conversations with the neighbour about the disruption, and their responses.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Hamilton is Chief Executive of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals (NALP), a non-profit Membership Body and the only Paralegal body that is recognised as an awarding organisation by Ofqual (the regulator of qualifications in England). Through its Centres, accredited recognised professional paralegal qualifications are offered for a career as a paralegal professional.

See: http://www.nationalparalegals.co.uk



Comments

by Paul Essex

17:36 PM, 31st March 2021, About 4 months ago

At least you can move much easier if you are a tenant. Being an owner occupier with neighbours from hell is much worse and if they happen to be tenants the landlord will be powerless to evict once Section 21 is gone unless you are prepared to give evidence in court.

by Paul Chetwyn

8:27 AM, 3rd April 2021, About 4 months ago

Not so sure it is that easy!
I have had two similar problems the first was when a night club opened up directly under a flat I owned and let out, the tenants were fantastic they recorded everything contacted everyone police, local mp, noise abatement team who used to go and sit in the the flat with the tenants until 2/3/4 o’clock in the morning nothing concrete was really done, so I had to sell the property for 30k less than I paid for it!!! So as to keep my sanity.
The second was a bad tenant (young lady) with 2 year old child, she was upsetting three other properties I own altogether (2 bed semi’s) one pair then another pair directly in front with a small parking area in between so close proximity to each other, it is a very nice little set up and the long standing tenants are very happy there.
BUT the young lady concerned had lots of visitors and I mean lots, could be as may as 15 lads at any one time, they did not play music but would be noisy thundering up and down stairs banging doors talking loudly out side and 10/15 lads playing football at 3am in the morning! And washing cars in the early hours.
So to the local council concerned and the noise abatement/Environmental team!
They told me that playing football at 3am etc etc was not anti social even though it was keeping the neighbours awake all of which went of to work the next day, and this is the best bit when I asked for my future reference could they tell me what actually constituted as anti social behaviour THEY SAID NO they could not and did not know!!!!! So fellow landlords as usual my opinion is once again you are on your own, as the local police man and the council told me it is my responsibility as I am the landlord, to which I replied yes I know which is why I am trying my best to sort it but I need help and guidance from you guys the authorities. The local police man did visit the tenant once but after that did not want to know really.
So I had to sit on it for four months as this was a new tenancy (she was bad from day one) then at four months I got LANDLORD ACTION to serve notice to leave at the end of her 6 month tenancy, I used paul/landlord action as I know they know exactly what they are doing so did not want anything going wrong, she actually went quietly. Thought I would give the young lady with a two year old child who apparently worked and cared for her grandparents a chance in life, but she through it back in my face, makes me very choosy now when I have a re let.
After 19 years being a landlord and getting pleasure from helping young people make the jump from leaving home and getting them selves (mostly) onto the housing ladder, to thinking this is it, time to sell up no government wants us landlords anyway they are making it very difficult to operate even us good landlords who have always done it correctly and responsibly, we run our portfolios like any other responsible BUSSINESS but they tax us as investors (unearned income) which in my way of thinking is you invest money into an investment vehicle and sit back and take the money or not as the case may be! (No work involved) well I don’t know about you guys but I put a lot of work into my rental bussiness and you may have to work even if it is sat/Sunday Xmas day or so on.
From a once happy landlord to a very unhappy and disgruntled landlord.

by Freda Blogs

11:08 AM, 3rd April 2021, About 4 months ago

@Paul Chetwyn
Great summary of current anti landlord attitudes, and I think your last sentence speaks for a lot of landlords these days.

by Jonathan Clarke

22:05 PM, 7th April 2021, About 4 months ago

Each case is different
Noise from neighbours can be a very complex issue
Blanket advice to reason with them first is simply not appropriate or best practice
In some neighbourhoods that could put you in real danger
Likewise reporting it to some authorities can also potentially be counterproductive. It can make matters worse. It depends very much on the conflict resolution skills of the individual dealing . Many are not trained sufficiently. Also on a practical level if you sell the house you would have to declare this on the TA6 and your sale could fall through .
Think carefully and seek professional advice in confidence from someone who understands the nuances of conflict resolution before deciding the best route for you .

We have a legal system based on an adversarial form of justice in this country. Its geared up to divide rather than heal and often it leaves pain in its wake when solicitors, police, eho`s get involved


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