Friday, February 12th, 2021
Victoria Copeman looks at the issues of the right to quiet enjoyment and noise nuisance in landlord/tenant and neighbour relations.
During what is now the third lockdown in England and Wales, people are naturally spending more time at home. For many, this involves juggling both work and home schooling. All the lockdowns have meant that those who have been classed as severely clinically vulnerable have had to shield and have also been at home. Therefore, the amount of time people have spent at home since last March has significantly increased.
This in turn, has led to an increase in complaints we have seen from leaseholders and tenants that their right to quiet enjoyment has been breached. Either by their landlord or their freeholder, or that they are experiencing an increase in noise nuisance from their immediate neighbours.
The right to quiet enjoyment is implied, if not explicitly stated within each tenancy agreement or lease. It means that the tenant or leaseholder has a right to the undisturbed use and peaceful occupation and enjoyment of their home. Therefore, the landlord or freeholder cannot simply enter into a property without giving either ‘reasonable’ notice or the amount specified in the tenancy agreement or lease that they intend to attend the property.
For landlords who have urgent repairs to carry out or safety checks that need to be made, these are allowed under the current lockdown rules. However, we have also noticed an increase in landlords or their contractors being refused entrance to the property by the leaseholder or tenants. This is despite the requisite notice having been provided. Often, failure to attend for these reasons would amount to a breach of the tenancy or lease and the tenants/leaseholder could bring a claim for breach. It appears that the landlord/freeholder is in a Catch-22 situation.
As touched upon above, another issue which has been magnified by the lockdown is noise nuisance being reported by people who are now finding themselves at home, when previously they would have been out of the property most of the day. Whether or not this is an increase in noise, or an increase in people experiencing the noise nuisance remains to be seen.
Our initial advice is to see if you can speak with the people making the noise. It may be that they are not aware that they can be heard by anyone outside their immediate vicinity. If this is unsuccessful or exacerbates the noise, keep a noise diary and if you feel threatened report the matter to the police. If this still does not resolve matters, then it is best to consult the services of a solicitor, who can advise on your options on how best to attempt to resolve your dispute.
At Hanne & Co, our Litigation Department is experienced in advising tenants, leaseholders and freeholders with regard to all types of property disputes. Should you require assistance with any of the matters discussed above, or other property disputes, please do get in touch and we will be happy to help.
Victoria Copeman is Partner in Hanne & Co’s Property Litigation and Dispute Resolution Team.