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Topic: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

I have been having an ongoing problem with noise from the neighbours - a mix of loud music until the early hours of the morning, banging and shouting (usually obscenities).  My flat is privately rented, and there are two other flats which are owned by another landlord.

I didn't realise when I moved in that he doesn't seem to care who his tenants are, so long as he gets his rent (paid for by the council).  As a result, I would say that both my neighbours are alcoholics who have no concept of what it is like to have to go to work every day.  I really don't care if they work or not, but their anti social behaviour is having a serious impact on me.

I have tried talking to them - when I once complained to one of my neighbours about noise, he then complained because the postman had rang his bell at 8am to deliver a parcel to me (something I obviously had no control over).  I wrote a letter to the other neighbour after a particularly bad night, and he sent the letter back, with the following note: "I have noted this but it is Christmas after all."  The noise has continued, well after Christmas.

After three nights in a row of this, I am at the end of my tether.  I have complained to the council (they both have noise abatement notice against them) but they often take so long to come out, that they miss the noise - they tend to turn the music up loud, then turn it down, then up again which makes it hard for the council to catch them.  When one of them was witnessed by the council the other night (at midnight on a Wednesday night) and the officers told him to turn it down, he said (I could hear him through my wall) that I was the one with the problem and didn't know how to have fun.  He also said they could take him to court - he didn't care.  As soon as they left, he turned his music back on - the council had gone off duty by then so I couldn't call them back.

I have asked about recording equipment but the council said this had to be requested by my landlord at a cost of something like 200 pounds a day (which she would never do).

I have also complained to their landlord - who is very sympathetic but says it is a council problem.  Meanwhile, the council said they plan to write to the landlord (who I believe will do nothing).

This is causing me so much stress that I just want to move out.  I phoned my landlord today and she said she will hold me to my lease which means I cannot move out until May.  Is there anything I can do?  I have been speaking to her about this problem for months, and she is also sympathetic, but can't do anything.

My other question is when I do eventually move, how can I ensure that my neighbours are quiet before I enter into a lease so I won't have the same problems again?

Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

I rent privately and the council didnt mention anything about contacting my landlord regarding recording equipment. I am on a waiting list for this as they only have so many machines and no doubt a lot of noisy people!

I can understand your landlady holding you to the lease. It isnt her fault the neighbours are noisy but suspect that she will if not already had, problems letting it out if the neighbours are noisy.

If they have abatement notices against them, why is action not being taken if this is being breached?

And there is no way of telling if your next set of neighbours will be noisy. I have lived in other flats and terrace houses for about 5 years and had no issues for 4 sets of neighbours. These ones are hideous and always noisy!!!! I think its the luck of the draw! Try to avoid living near council houses as these seem to be a problem from what I have read on here, but I also know some council tenants are lovely and dont make any noise.

Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

Isnt it also in most tenancy agreements not to disturb other neighbours?

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Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

Thanks for your responses.  Maybe I need to go back to the council and see what action they are taking (if any) after witnessing the noise the other night.  They did say they would write to the landlord, but I am not sure if this happened.

I will also raise the point of recording equipment again.  I am just trying to focus on May (16 weeks) when I can move out of here.  Just terrified I will pick the wrong flat again!

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Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

I don't think the landlord will do much.  One of the tenants has lived here for 10 years - he is unlikely to want to lose that. I do feel intimidated calling the council, as I don't know what they will do - but think I just need to be brave!

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Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

I spoke to the council today.  They recorded in their files that the music could be heard in my flat after 11pm and my neighbour had been spoken to but it wasn't down as a statutory nuisance (is that the right term?), so no further action would be taken. 

I asked what would constitute a statutory nuisance, and he said it depended on the officer's judgement.  He said he would have said music at any level after 11pm would be a statutory nuisance but it wasn't up to him as he wasn't the officer visiting.  I have asked for that officer to call me tomorrow to explain - as at the time, he said a warrant could be served.

He also said there was no point in having recording equipment put in my flat, as the noise had to be witnessed by a council officer.  The equipment is not enough to take court action.  I am so upset and frustrated by all this.  I feel like I have put myself at risk by complaining, and it has got me absolutely nowhere.

Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

Knackered,

Please don't lose HOPE.  According to Environmental Protection Act (and Human Rights Act) there's no TIME LIMITS on noise nusiences. What dos'nt help US is our ignorance of the laws supposedly to help us and some Environmental Health officers with the same problem....who are supposed to help us.  I'm sure Mac will be on soon to advise you....am sure he would be now, he's probably writing a letter for another of us....xx

Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

Knackered,   there's one chance in five.... 20%....according to calculations based on my googling of having another bad experience. I think you'd have to do research and investigations of your own....however, things can change so rapidly with tenant changes. I conclude its better to make it right where i am. I went from frypan to fire. But surely if some way you could prove there was an existing problem before you moved in, that you were not warned of, which would have disuaded you from taking the lease, there are grounds for not only being released from the lease, but compensated ????   ok, i could be daydreaming again.

Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

I agree with Pandora, am fighting to make my home here, my home once again!! And I am determined to get there! x

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Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

I wrote to my council today after being kept up all night by my neighbours.  Apart from the fact he did not address all issues raised in my email (he failed to acknowledge this is a problem with both of my neighbours, even though I made this clear).  I said I thought the council was incorrect to refuse to come to my flat to witness shouting and other loud noise apart from music in the middle of the night - he basically said it was fine for them to shout, yell obscenities and argue in the early hours of the morning, as long as it is not music.

I explained that I was woken at 1am by the tenant and his lodger last night who were arguing and shouting at each other.  I managed to get to sleep about 2am, and was again woken at around 3.30am by music and loud voices. This continued until I got up to go to work.  I also asked what had been done in response to noise that was witnessed last week by my other neighbour - who also has a noise abatement notice - and this was ignored.

This is the council's response - am I right to be annoyed?  I feel like they haven't actually said they will do anything to help, have ignored all my points and are treating me like the troublemaker:

Thank you for your email and the matters that you raise.

I am copying this email to our anti-social behaviour people as they may be able to tackle the arguing, shouting, swearing and banging coming from this flat.

In September last year, we served a Notice on XXX at this first floor flat, under section 80, requesting abatement of a nuisance defined under S79(g) as you have correctly shown below. So far we have not witnessed any breach of this notice.

You are right in quoting the definition from the legislation of a statutory nuisance is just "noise".
Once legislation is made and then used, legal opinions and precedents are made that affect how the legislation is interpreted. Basically noise is this case refers to noise created by something that has a on/off switches and or volume controls which will include amplified music and machines like vacuum cleaners or dish washers. Noise from domestic activities, like talking (and shouting), children running, floor boards creaking are not controlled by this legislation. This legislation does not outlaw swearing or drunken behaviour.

We do work with the safer neighbourhood teams to help resolve these social problems.

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Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

Both noise abatement notices are due to loud music.  My email to the head of environmental health:

Dear xxx,

I have phoned and left messages a couple of times after your officers visited my flat to witness noise as I wanted to find out the result of this - however, I have not heard anything.  The officer said he planned to write to the landlord and I also wanted to know what other action was taken - as this tenant already has a noise abatement notice and your officer said when he visited that a warrant could be served.

This continues to be a major problem and I would like to raise a formal complaint.  Last night, I was subject to shouting, swearing, banging and music which continued until 7am this morning.  This came from the middle flat (the previous complaint was about the top floor flat).

I was woken at 1am by the tenant and his lodger arguing and shouting at each other.  I managed to get to sleep about 2am, and was again woken at around 3.30am by music and loud voices. This continued until I got up to go to work.  This followed another incident last Thursday, when Charlie had an extremely loud argument with his lodger at 4am.

While this noise was coming from a different flat to the one your officer recently witnessed the music from - noise has been an ongoing problem from both flats, which owned by the same landlord.   

I have been told your officers will not visit my flat unless it is music, which is why I did not call last night (as the music did not start until later).  However, I have been referred to the Environmental Health Act 1990 and understand that a statutory nuisance is not just music, but anything that falls into the following categories:

(a) any premises in such a state as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(b) smoke emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(c) fumes or gases emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(d) any dust, steam, smell or other effluvia arising on industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(e) any accumulation or deposit which is prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(f) any animal kept in such a place or manner as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(fa) any insects emanating from relevant industrial, trade or business premises and being prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(fb) artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(g) noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
(ga) noise that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance and is emitted from a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street
(h) any other matter declared by any enactment to be a statutory nuisance.

Nowhere does it mention that the noise has to be music, so I believe the council is incorrect in refusing to visit my flat to witness and take action against this ongoing noise nuisance.  Your officers have always been extremely helpful when they come out, but a lot of this noise occurs after their limited working hours (ie. midnight on weeknights).  I have been told by the police that they will not attend a noise complaint.

This situation is seriously impacting on my health and well being, and affecting my performance at work.  I would like to speak to someone at the council about the ongoing problems I am experiencing.  Could you please contact me, or ask the relevant person in your department to get in touch. 

I have also included the xxx Safer Neighbourhood Team into this email - as I believe this problem requires a joined up response by all relevant departments.  When my neighbours are drunk (which regularly occurs) they are extremely intimidating and I do not feel I can approach them.

Kind regards,

xxx

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Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

Anything you can do to help would be very appreciated.  Although I should add that in my annoyance, I replied with the following email to the council officer:

Dear Mr xx,

As I mentioned in my email this is an ongoing problem with both my neighbours. The incident I referred to in relation to noise being witnessed was from the top floor flat - which I was told by one of your officers also has a noise abatement notice. Can you please tell me the result of this visit. Your officer xxx told me when he was in my flat he would write to the landlord and also a warrant could be served.

Also, you say you work with other teams to resolve these issues. Could you please tell me how you plan to do this in this case? This is far more than normal domestic noise. It is affecting my health and well being and I need help to address these problems. I would like to speak to someone in the appropriate department to discuss these issues.

Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

I have registered

Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

I just had a call from the police Safer Neighbourhood Team who are coming out to see me tomorrow (I copied them into the email to the council).  Maybe I will have more luck with them than the council?

Re: Breaking a lease due to noise - advice please

Hi Mac,

Thanks very much for this - it covers all the points very well.  I am off sick with a cold today (not helped by the stress of this situation).  But I will send this tomorrow when I am at work.

Knack