Help - what route can we take over noise & breach of lease?

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    Help - what route can we take over noise & breach of lease?

    Hi all,

    I know these are crazy times and we're trying to be patient with the flat above, as there's clearly nothing anyone can do about noise levels for the foreseeable, and safety is the most important thing right now.

    But we're going a bit mad with upstairs noise levels, and feel totally trapped with the history of what the freeholders association granted permission for 10 years ago.

    We're ground floor in a Victorian mansion block. A sturdily built building with thick walls and (luckily) high ceilings. When we moved in 2 years ago, we had a quiet old couple living above us. Last October, they moved out, a macerating pump showerroom (3rd bathroom in a 3 bed flat!) had a new LOUD motor replaced, after which three young men moved in. We have since found out, that the landlord, 10 years ago:

    Without permission took out the living room support wall, and built a kitchen area above half the master bedroom and living room,
    Ripped out all carpets adding no replacement insulation
    With no permission ALSO added a third ensuite macerating showeroom, turning what should have been the kitchen into another ensuite.

    When the Directors of the Freeholders Associtation tried to stop him, he threatened legal action, and they backed down. Eventually granting him a licence both for the new kitchen area, and back macerated showerroom.
    He then took them to a tribunal as he didn't want to pay their surveyor costs. He lost pretty badly.

    But now we have:
    -three young men (and their girlfriends that they've moved in), all cooking at separate times, all thumping above our living room, from around 8pm til 10pm every night. It's so loud - there's nothing on the floor to stop the deep, loud and constant vibrations. They also work out up there.
    -Our back bedroom is unusable, as the tenant of that back room showers constantly, with the motor always going up to 10mins at a time, often at 1 or 2am in the morning (as it's that tenant's only bathroom)
    -The pipes from the macerator pump run through the ceilings of our kitchen, and 2nd bedroom - our tenant in the 2nd bedroom constantly complains of the noise of the whooshing water right above his head.

    We've measured the Db of both back room and front room and both the footsteps and pump sounds are well above 10Dcb above the resting room level.

    We've asked the Freeholders (we are leaseholders with share of freehold) to intervene, and showed them videos of the noise etc, but they know how litigious this landlord is and don't want to go after him. They also basically signed off on all the works with their licences 10 years ago, so I guess effectively gave permission for the stripped floors, even thought the lease says floors must be carpeted (or kitchen and bathrooms have adequate insulation). Their license for the back bathroom DID, however, say that the pump needed to be fully insulated at all times - and we know that this new replacement pump is not (his plumber said it was set to low onto the floor to insulate below!!)

    So the flat above is in breach of both the lease (no carpeting) and back showeroom license (not "fully insulated")

    I doubt the council will intervene, even though they weren't consulted about the back room and there was no building notice, as it was all 10 years ago.

    And the last time we complained to this landlord for the pump noise, he accused us of building works we hadn't done and harassing his last tenants (we're still friends and keep in touch - they wrote to confirm we did no such thing!) But that's the kind of guy he is, so indemnifying the Freeholders to enforce the lease could very well cost us a fortune if he counter-pretends-to-sue (as he has before). It could get very expensive indeed. He knows what he's doing!

    So - who do we ask for either lease/license enforcement (covering the floors properly, and insulating the motor/pipes), or compensation (if that doesn't happen we'll have to heavily sound proof the cielings, losing original features)? Clearly all these works should never have been approved int he first place. But what route should/can we take? We can't live like this - and certainly can't sell it either now.

    Thank you so much for any help at all! Husband can't work in any of the rooms or relax in the evenings, and getting so depressed. And so sorry to bother you all with this at this crazy time!

    Hope you're all staying safe and well,
    S

    #2
    Oh, I should add, in case it's useful: the licenses for the front kitchen-living room, and back/third showerroom, don't themselves mention the stripped floors, or the pipes being run through our ceiling space and out through our window lintels (!) - the space between floors isn't demised to him or us, so belong to the lessors, and the lease includes the clause about not maiming/altering exterior walls etc. So all these things also seem to breach the lease. But I don't know if the fact the Freeholders company had their surveyor sign off on all works means he's allowed all this - even if they didn't realise how much of the non-demised areas he'd altered.

    Comment


      #3
      Hi

      All I can suggest is with the amount of people living in the flat it sounds like a HMO so might be worth checking on the register if your council has one on line.

      That might force the landlord either to make changes to improve the place (I'm not sure is this includes soundproofing) but as far as I understand it an HMO would not gain approval (licensed or not depending on size) if it caused noise disturbance to the neighbours. This may sway the landlord to rent it to a family rather than people sharing.

      And I'm not sure if your freehold association can remove the entitlements of your lease unless all the freeholders have agreed to waive this. However as they seem to have allowed it your argument should probably be also directed to the directors of the freeholders association (unless in your AGM you have voted them in to have the majority decision, even then I'm not sure how that can change your written lease without an updated lease being registered and you accepting this on purchase some two years ago). So if the directors have accepted breaches of the lease they should have notified you on your proposed purchase or had those written into the lease so your solicitor could have advised you regarding this upon purchase.

      My view is if you chase on multiple breaches of the lease you will probably have to prove the impact to youself,, for things such as pipes in ceilings this will be hard so focus on the main issue at hand and ignore everything else, it sounds like it's the sound proofing so focus on this one.

      This is only my personal view I am not legally trained so please take professional advice before acting on this.

      All the best Stew.

      Comment


        #4
        Thanks Stew,

        I think there's just under 5 residents upstairs, so until our council update those terms (which they say they're trying to) I'm not sure the HMO thing will work... but do you think just going straight to the council to complain of noise pollution/nuisance would be a good idea? Thanks so much btw!

        Comment


          #5
          This website may help you : https://www.gov.uk/house-in-multiple-occupation-licence

          Comment


            #6
            Sadly I don't think it currently comes under large HMO rules, which is what it has to be to need a license.

            Comment


              #7
              Make a complaint to your local council about excessive noise from the above flat and ask your local MP to push the Council to do something on your behalf. .

              Comment


                #8
                Don't complain IIWY, as this will have to be mentioned to a buyer. Just sell up quietly to a BTL investor, and buy a detached house.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Before you make a complaint to Council, check their rules for noise complaint :

                  For Harrow Council you must show a noise nuisance diary for atleast 2 weeks .

                  https://www.harrow.gov.uk/environmen...egoryId=210270

                  Comment

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