If you live in a block of flats, the law is there to protect you against noise or other nuisance caused by fellow residents. In a recent case, a woman who sued her upstairs neighbours over what she described as intolerable noise levels was awarded a six-figure sum in compensation by a judge.
The woman claimed that she had been subjected to a constant bombardment of noise emanating from the flat above her own £2.6 million apartment. Her complaints focused on modifications, particularly the installation of new wooden flooring made to the upstairs flat after her neighbours, a couple with three young children, acquired it through a corporate vehicle.
The judge found that much of the noise, caused by, amongst other things, children playing and dishes being washed late at night was associated with day-to-day living. The couple held occasional late-night parties, and sounds from their boiler, fridge, taps and fireplace were also audible in the flat below.
The woman’s description of the noise that she endured was exaggerated to some extent. However, when the floor in the upstairs flat was replaced, nothing had been done to limit noise transmission into the apartment below. The new floor had been installed without the authority of the block’s freeholder and removal of carpets from some living areas also amounted to a breach of the couple’s lease.
The judge rejected claims that the couple had deliberately caused a noise nuisance. However, in awarding the woman £107,397 in damages, he found that the overall noise levels were sufficiently loud to be invasive and disturbing to an objective standard. The noise was a constant presence in the lives of the woman and her mother, with whom she lived, and had caused them distress.
The judge also issued an injunction against the couple and their company, requiring them to carry out work on the floors and implement an extensive acoustic strategy in order to reduce noise levels in the flat below. The amount of damages payable will be increased at a daily rate of £40.18 until those works were completed.