The noisy neighbour with a six-figure headache

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Rarely does a noise dispute between neighbours make the national news. But the case brought by Sarvenaz Fouladi against Sarah and Ahmed El Kerrami has done just that; and the reason is the six-figure compensation sum.

Whilst the media reported details of the case must be considered with some caution, as the judgment is not available, this has not stopped widespread coverage; and that coverage makes for interesting reading.

When normal noise becomes excessive noise

Noise transmission between flats is a common problem, whether in converted houses or purpose built blocks.  This is particularly common with contact noise, as opposed to airborne noise.  Often all but the most well-built flats rely on carpeting to prevent some contact noise being heard in the flat below. However, as many homeowners prefer the modern aesthetic of hard floors, noise nuisance is an increasing problem.

The press reports suggest that this was one of the main problems in the above case. When the flat owned by the El Kerramis was renovated, the reports suggest that unauthorised alterations exacerbated the noise problems.

What can you do if you are facing noise problems?

It may be as simple as checking your lease to see whether there is a requirement for flats to be carpeted and whether other rules apply, such as regulations issued by the managing agent in accordance with the lease.  Ensuring your neighbour follows the rules may resolve the issue.  A threat to take legal action under the common law of nuisance, brought into sharp focus by this case, may also help.   Robust early action could achieve a swift resolution without having to issue potentially costly court proceedings.  Engaging the right legal team from the outset is important.

For building owners and managing agents, quite literally keeping the peace is likely to involve ensuring your tenants comply with the rules. The lease may allow for these rules to be tightened.  Where a leaseholder proposes internal works, proper consideration of appropriate conditions for a Licence for Alterations should be considered, in consultation with a building surveyor.

Cases involving noise nuisance do not come before the courts very often.  The size of the compensation award in this case is an important reminder that obtaining early expert legal advice is essential.  Whether you are suffering from a noise nuisance, or facing an allegation of causing nuisance, or you are a building owner or manager with two leaseholders in dispute.

We are here to help

We have a talented pool of lawyers who are well versed in every aspect of leasehold property.  Call us on 01273 324 041 and we will be happy to help.