Is noise getting you down?

Noise levels in blocks of flats around the country may have been higher than normal last week as thousands of children let off steam during half term. But for most people living in flats, noise that reaches nuisance levels is an unwelcome but rare occurrence. The right to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of your living space is included in leases as standard and if your neighbours continually play their music at ear-splitting levels or have noisy parties every weekend, you are within your rights to complain to your building manager.

Unfortunately the advent of short lets on Airbnb and other online platforms is hiking up the number of complaints from flat owners about noise in their blocks

Property manager Ian Smallman, a director of Principle Estate Management, said in the press this week that noise and anti-social behaviour due to short-term letting is a growing problem, especially in city centre locations.  “Occupiers… often complain about groups, usually younger people, being rowdy and partying until the early hours of the morning, causing damage to the communal areas and more often, just being a nuisance” he said.

In fact, Airbnb lettings may be in breach of the lease, so if your block is affected, talk to your block manager. The starting point is always to look at the lease and see what, if any, restrictions it puts on sub-letting.

The freeholder can then apply to the First Tier Tribunal for a determination that the leaseholder is breaching their lease under section 168 of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002.  Decisions made in the cases brought so far haven’t been particularly consistent but the recent case of Nemcova v Fairfield Rents Ltd did offer guidance that is likely to be followed in future.

In the meantime, property guru Phil Spencer’s property advice site has done some research and discovered that the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the noisiest place in the country to live. It was followed closely by Islington, Southwark, Haringey and Newham. Belfast and Edinburgh were the only places outside London to feature in the top 10.  

So if you’re looking for a quiet life, avoid city centres – especially London – and maybe consider moving to one of the quietest places in the UK –Clackmannshire in Scotland, mid Devon or even the Outer Hebrides!