Help! Wooden floor in flat above - leasehold in a Housing Association-owned block

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    Help! Wooden floor in flat above - leasehold in a Housing Association-owned block

    I purchased a leasehold flat at the end of last year. The freehold is owned by a housing association, and the flat above me has a housing association tenant in it.

    My flat - and the other leasehold flats in the building - have a clause in the lease stating floors in all rooms / passageways of the flats must be carpeted to avoid transmission of noise. Unfortunately, upon moving into the flat, I very quickly discovered the flat above me has a wooden floor. The consequence of this is constant noise disturbance from upstairs; I hear everything; from their phone vibrating at 6am as an alarm clock, to the tv, the vacuum cleaner, dog barking, the phone rining, doors closing, footsteps, etc. I accept that there will always been some disturbance from neighbours - this is part of flat life; however I cannot live in this situation - my sleep is disturbed almost every single night as a result.

    After moving in, I almost immediately contacted the Housing Association who also act as the management company for the block, and after 6+ months of formal complaints, recording disturbances, etc. they have finally come back to me and said that there is no equivalent clause to that in my lease re. carpeting, and therefore they can't do anything about my problem.

    It has to be noted that my upstairs neighbour is not being unreasonable in her behaviour, the noise is caused from "normal" living activities which are simply magnified (significantly) by the wooden floor. Therefore I have no reason to complain on this front.

    I had made an assumption (lesson learned!) that tenancy agreements would be equivalent to leases regarding items such as this which affect neighbours.

    I am desperately concerned that having made this complaint over several months, I will now be unable to sell the flat when the time comes because it would be declared as an unresolved problem :S

    Is there anything I can do in this situation? I have tried amicably asking the neighbour to consider getting some rugs; however with no improvement in my situation. I don't wish to spend a small fortune on a solicitor if I'm fighting a pointless battle I have no hope of winning!

    Thanks for any advice / suggestions...

    #2
    Send your upstairs neighbour a pair of soft slippers to wear when moving about in her flat.

    Comment


      #3
      Your best bet is to sound proof your ceiling, at least the one in your bedroom to ensure your sleep is undisturbed. Shop around and get builders in to give you a quote. Whilst this solution will not totally eliminate the noise, you can expect at least an 80% reduction, which is significant and the remaining 20% should not cause you concern.

      This will be much cheaper than the cost of an endless legal battle which you have no guarantee to win and you will have to disclose when you sell.

      Comment


        #4
        I am in the same situation and have been so since buying my flat in 2008.

        Your issue here is not the fact that the upstairs flat is not carpeted. This clause in the lease is usually to prevent noise from heels/shoes etc. I am sure you would find that carpet unless it comes with a very thick underlay does little difference, the problem is the lack of sound insulation between the two flats.
        I doubt very much carpet will stop the noise from the TV, dog barking, it would only attenuate it slighly.

        You have a few options:

        1) buy some earplugs
        2) pay for the upstairs flat's insulation/underlay/carpet
        3) look at adding sound insulation to your ceiling (this would however seriously lower your ceiling height)

        If you ever want to sell your flat, you can kindly ask your neighbour to go to the pub for a few hours during viewings. I am certain this is what happened when I viewed mine 3 times.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by verylonglease View Post
          Your best bet is to sound proof your ceiling, at least the one in your bedroom to ensure your sleep is undisturbed. Shop around and get builders in to give you a quote. Whilst this solution will not totally eliminate the noise, you can expect at least an 80% reduction, which is significant and the remaining 20% should not cause you concern.

          This will be much cheaper than the cost of an endless legal battle which you have no guarantee to win and you will have to disclose when you sell.
          I don't think this is a battle that can be won unless the lease is amended to cover this.
          The way I won't get caught again is by never buying a flat below someone else and ensuring that in my enquiries, I ask if there are any problems with noise in the building.

          Comment


            #6
            Thanks for your responses.

            I am pretty cross about it as I made a point of checking the lease to ensure it had a solid clause around carpeting... which it does! It just didn't occur to me that an equivalent clause wouldn't apply to those flats which were rented. I don't understand why they would bother to put a clause in the leases for those flats which are owned, and not in the tenancy agreements of those which are rented? I presume that had I asked to see a rental agreement for a housing association flat they'd have refused to let me see it anyway.

            I am convinced the problem is entirely due to the lack of carpeting, and not just the soundpoofing of the building, as my neighbour below says she rarely hears any noise at all from me.

            When selling the flat (eventually) will I have to declare this complaint I've made to the housing association to a potential buyer, or worse, will the HA declare it on my behalf?

            Comment


              #7
              The problem will only be declared if someone ask for it.
              If you think carpet will resolve your problem, for your own peace and quiet - you could approach the freeholder and offer to pay some of the cost towards carpeting. It may be an incentive for the housing association to get the work done.

              Comment


                #8
                The response from the HA is utter b*ll*cks. They as the prototype owner which includes in this case the flat has an obligation to ensure that they and by extension their occupant do nothing to cause nuisance or disturbance to others.

                Your lease might also contain a clause obligating landlord to act.

                You need to follow it through the formal complaint procedure or consider a private action in the Magistrates court.
                Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by leaseholdanswers View Post
                  The response from the HA is utter b*ll*cks. They as the prototype owner which includes in this case the flat has an obligation to ensure that they and by extension their occupant do nothing to cause nuisance or disturbance to others.

                  Your lease might also contain a clause obligating landlord to act.

                  You need to follow it through the formal complaint procedure or consider a private action in the Magistrates court.
                  That's fine if you are happy to disclose litigation with your neighbour when you sell together with evidence of a noise nuisance issue in the flat. I wouldn't. It's a very expensive option with no guarantee to win.

                  I would sound proof the ceiling. At least you get value (quietness and happiness)for money.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by verylonglease View Post
                    That's fine if you are happy to disclose litigation with your neighbour when you sell together with evidence of a noise nuisance issue in the flat. I wouldn't. It's a very expensive option with no guarantee to win.

                    I would sound proof the ceiling. At least you get value (quietness and happiness)for money.
                    But having raised the matter they already have to disclose it as would the HA who would be appraoched for management information....
                    Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thanks so much for all your responses.

                      To be honest,I don't intend to stay in the flat for many years, and I think the cost of having the ceiling soundproofed will simply be more than I ca afford.

                      I am just so frustrated that I've found myself in this situation having made a point of checking the lease to ensure it contained this kind of clause!

                      I just don't understand why the freeholder (housing association) has put a clause in my lease stating I must have carpet to avoid transmission of noise, but has not put one in the tenancy agreements of those flats that are rented? I assumed that because it was in my lease (and the other leasehold flats) that it would be the same for all flats in the building. grrr!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by pingcat View Post
                        Thanks so much for all your responses.

                        To be honest,I don't intend to stay in the flat for many years, and I think the cost of having the ceiling soundproofed will simply be more than I ca afford.

                        I am just so frustrated that I've found myself in this situation having made a point of checking the lease to ensure it contained this kind of clause!

                        I just don't understand why the freeholder (housing association) has put a clause in my lease stating I must have carpet to avoid transmission of noise, but has not put one in the tenancy agreements of those flats that are rented? I assumed that because it was in my lease (and the other leasehold flats) that it would be the same for all flats in the building. grrr!
                        Because not all the flats have leases. But as posted you don't need a lease to enforce the clause, as, as posted the HA response is a nonsense. I suggest you push it through the formal complaints procedure to get to someone who does understand.

                        I deal with a lot of RSL's and frankly the front-line people know about minority rights and vulnerability and not a lot about buildings and landlord and tenant!
                        Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          What's an RSL? Yes I'm learning that - it's taken me 6 months just to ascertain that there is no clause in the tenancy agreements re. carpeting. Their respones never address the query / complaint I raise!

                          Ok - thanks again for your help..I guess I'll keep on with the complaints procedure, and perhaps had better give my solicitor a call...

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by pingcat View Post
                            What's an RSL? Yes I'm learning that - it's taken me 6 months just to ascertain that there is no clause in the tenancy agreements re. carpeting. Their respones never address the query / complaint I raise!

                            Ok - thanks again for your help..I guess I'll keep on with the complaints procedure, and perhaps had better give my solicitor a call...
                            You should bear in mind that any legal proceedings you issue will have to be disclosed when you sell (and without the buyer asking - you must disclose regardless). If you lose the legal battle for whatever reason, you will end up selling a flat that has severe unresolved noise issues, which will look very bad to potential buyers. You can always discreetly investigate your options with a solicitor but if you decide to formally go ahead with legal proceedings and lose, your flat will be very difficult to sell (not to mention the costs of the legal proceedings you will have to incur plus any of your opponent's costs that you may be ordered to pay if you lose). A legal challenge carries very high risks if you are not sure to win. Most lawyers will tell you that you have a good chance to win as they want your money - but the reality may well be very different.

                            Your safest option in my opinion is either you sell now and move on (hoping that buyers will view your flat while your neighbours are out) OR you get your ceiling sound proofed, at least in your bedroom to allow you to sleep. If you sound proof one room only I can tell you that it will be cheaper than pay a solicitor and Counsel to challenge your neighbours in court proceedings, which you have absolutely no guarantee to win.

                            It's up to you, but if I were in your position I wouldn't go legal, it's not worth the stress, the money and the consequences when you sell.

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