My husband and I are joint freeholders on a victorian conversion to two flats - we own the ground floor, and the other freeholder owns the first floor (only two flats). We bought in 2007 and had no problems until in 2009 when the upstairs property was rented out. The tenants then had two children in quick succession. For the last two years the impact noise in primarily the living room and hallway has got successively worse - although we didn't complain until three months ago we have discussed it frequently with the tenants - to which they always apologise however it has got progressively worse and worse. So we wrote to the landlord, to which he refused to answer or deal with it - however I believe he did speak to the tenants about it - but told us when we confronted him that it was "just kids". After this we then contacted the council to see if there was anything they could do - the banging goes on most of the day but is worse when they are all home from 5pm in the evening. It also goes on intermittently all weekend. So the council have written to them stating there is a complaint - they of course know it is us - and have got very upset about it. I am currently working three days from home a week due to a long term chronic illness - and the stress of both the noise, and the aggression from the tenant and landlord is actually making me worse. Today I decided I could no longer work from home as I heard the landlord telling his tenant that he would sue us for harassment - (yes the walls are that thin). We have emailed him asking to find a solution - and have asked him to put in soundproofing in the two main affected areas - living room and hall. However he has yet to respond. So my questions - as joint freeholders do we have any rights to make him put in the soundproofing? Does he have any grounds on harassment or is that just an empty threat. In total we have sent him around 9 emails over the last three months requesting answers to the problem. As we're aware he is in financial straits (he has a charge on his share of the freehold) then we would be happy to pay for the actual soundproofing boards - if he fitted them. It would then be equal cost for us - around 1000 pounds each. Please let me know what we can do.
System of Law: England-and-Wales
Noise abatement with the council. Currently requesting the freehold docs and have now got the lease.
Do you have a specific question?
So my questions - as joint freeholders do we have any rights to make him put in the soundproofing? Does he have any grounds on harassment or is that just an empty threat. In total we have sent him around 9 emails over the last three months requesting answers to the problem.Is there any other route that we can try in order to get resolution. Apologies I put the wrong email address - it should beXXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX (not .com) Thank you.
I am online now for the next few hours. We are all lawyers in practice and have clients and court to deal with.
As you are trying to resolve a problem, there is no way that this could be classed as harassment. On these facts, he is dreaming. However you cannot just keep e-mailing him because at some stage it will become harassment, you either have to issue legal proceedings or drop it.
I assume that you are joint freeholders with him, 50/50, and that here's the leaseholder of the upstairs flat when you are the leaseholder of the downstairs flat. He has a tenant in his flat.
If there are no soft floorcoverings in his flat, he may be in breach of the lease of the lease says that there must be carpet. Check the lease.
You have as much right to ask him to put soundproofing in and pay half the cost, as he has to refuse. In cases like this, where the decision is stalemate, a court will generally keep the status quo. BUT, I think you have a claim in nuisance. Your claim would be against the tenants for actually creating the nuisance and against the landlord for allowing it to happen. You could also ask the council to issue a noise abatement notice if the council agree with you that the noise is unreasonable. It would need to get somebody from the council (or another expert) to be in the house at a time when the noise is at its worst. My suggestion, at this stage, would be to get a solicitor to write mentioning all the above points and saying that rather than go through all the above, you would be willing to install some soundproofing at your own cost provided he will give access.
If he doesn't do that I would be off to the environmental health department of the council with a view to getting a noise abatement notice and I would be threatening an application to court for compensation in nuisance and asking the court to award costs against them.
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The thread remains open. Thanks
Thanks so much for all the useful information. I have checked the lease and have come across the following clauses:
Not to use or suffer the Demised Premised premises to be used for any sale by auction or for any illegal or immoral purpose or for the sale of win bee or spirits or as a club or so as to cause in the opinion of the Landlord any nuisance damage annoyance or disturbance to the landlord or to the owner / occupier of any adjoining or neighbouring premises.
From time to time during the said term to pay all costs charges and expenses incurred by the Landlord in abating a nuisance and executing all such works as may be necessary for abating a nuisance in obedience to a notice served by a local authority relating only to the demised premises.
Not to use or permit to be used any gramphone wireless loudspeaker television or any musical instrument in the Demised Premises so as to occasion annoyance or inconvenience to the Landlord or the owners or occupiers of any adjoining or neighbouring premises and to keep the Demised Premises including the passages thereof substantially covered with suitable material for avoiding the transmission of noise where used instead of carpets.
I assume from the above that we have both a freeholder claim for him to put in adequate carpeting / sound proofing plus the right to think of court action should he not be willing to move ahead?
We would be willing to contribute 50% to the sound proofing – should we look at 100% and can we control those costs?
Or could you advise the next step based on the above?
Thank you again!
"if all else fails, read the lease!".
We I strongly suspected that most of those provisions would have been in there because they are in most properly drafted leases. The provision to put carpeting on the floor is even more common now particularly with the advent of wood laminate.
You as the freeholder can insist that he as the leaseholder pays the costs charges etc incurred by you in abating the nuisance and doing the work. So far so good.
The problem you face is that you are joint freeholder with him. So he will say that this work does not need doing because it is not a nuisance and you say it does need doing because it is a nuisance. Stalemate.
If you can prove this is a nuisance (I know it is a nuisance because you tell me it is but you would need proof to be able to show to a court) then the freeholder is entitled to 100% of the costs from him. So he the leaseholder pays all the costs, 50% to you and 50% to the other freeholder (him) so the end result is that is that, he ends up paying 100% of the costs incurred in doing the work.
I would write to him and suggest that you will contribute 50% to the cost bookmark the letter without prejudice. Tell him that he be does not except that and if you are forced to take legal action, then you will be looking to him as the leaseholder for 100% of the costs. I would enclose with that letter a couple of estimates.
Hopefully, a solicitors letter will making think twice.
Thank you so much - you've been incredibly helpful.One last question - what quantifies proof? We have recorded the noise - and also I have a visit due from the council to come and listen - I assume the latter is the ideal proof to the landlord? Both my husband and I really really appreciate all the advice you've given. Thank you again.
Yes, all that qualifies as proof. A letter or report from the Council is probably as good as it gets.
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PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street practice
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