Many lessees mistakenly believe that their Freeholder/Landlord or Managing Agents have a simple solution for noise nuisance in blocks of flats.
The leasehold conveyancing team at Fridaysmove find that most leases will contain covenants stating that leaseholders shall not cause nuisance and annoyance to neighbours.
Sometimes – especially on newer leases – there are more detailed restrictions such as no loud music between, say, 11pm and 7. 30am or that floors should be carpeted.
Such clauses, if they exist, are all well and good but in practice difficult to for the landlord or managing agent to enforce for several reasons*.
The meaning of the covenant in the lease should be clear before considering enforcement. If there is any the doubt over the meaning, the benefit of that doubt will always be given to the leaseholder.
Not all leases contain a clause that requires the landlord to enforce the obligations in the lease; if it does not there is no obligation on the landlord to take any action.
Incidentally, the absence of such a “ mutual enforceability covenant “ does not necessarily make the property un-mortgageable or unsaleable .
Please beware that even if the lease does contain a clause requiring the landlord to enforce the covenants against other lessees there is usually a caveat, namely that the complainant leaseholder suffering the noise will have to pay the landlord’s costs of enforcing the covenant.
This brings us back to the original question : How does the landlord enforce a covenant against say noise or one that requires carpets not laminated floors?
In many cases a reminder letter to the offending lessee may work. Some landlords or Agents will write to the lessees lender ( if they have one ) to add to the pressure. If it does not, then
the legal remedies open to the landlord are an injunction or forfeiture. Neither or easy or cheap to obtain.
Injunctions are costly but can be applied for with or without forfeiture. Also the aggrieved lessee can apply for an injunction and may well be more successful if he/she does.
Forfeiture is not an easy route for landlords and can be extremely costly; neither will it produce quick results. However, the threat of forfeiture may well produce a response to say the lack of carpets in a flat where the covenants require them, and use of forfeiture may be the most effective way to prevent the use of laminated floors spreading in a block.
If you are suffering from noise please call your leasehold conveyancing lawyer before you take any action. A leaflet produced by the government is available called “Bothered by Noise: No Need to Suffer. ” Supplies are free from DEFRA, Ring 08459 556 999 and quote reference PB12023 or “ Fridaysmove Leasehold Conveyancing”. • There are also help lines for leaseholders with noise problems. – Noise concern is run by the Noise Abatement Society on 01273 823 851
* Please note that due to the peculiarities of English law it is almost impossible for tenants directly enforce these covenants against each other so they have to revert to the Landlord to take action. This article does not propose to go into the reasoning behind this.