Can a landlord be liable for a noisy neighbour?
Where a landlord authorises (expressly or impliedly) actions by its tenant that cause a nuisance, the landlord may be liable as well as the tenant.
However in a recent case the High Court has now confirmed that it is not enough for the landlord to be aware of the nuisance and take no steps to prevent it; the landlord must either participate directly in the commission of the nuisance or have authorised it by letting the property.
In Fouladi v Darout Limited & Others the Claimant had a long lease of a flat in a high-class mansion block in London. She claimed to have suffered noise nuisance as a result of the normal activities of the occupiers of the flat above (eg. children playing, gatherings of people) (although there were also allegations that noise had been created deliberately to annoy her). Various works, including the re-laying of the floor, had been carried out to the flat above without the landlord’s permission and the noise had become worse since those works.
The Claimant succeeded against the occupiers but the claims against the landlord for nuisance and breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment were dismissed. Whilst the Judge found that:-
• The landlord knew about the unauthorised works to the floor;
• Had it not been for those works, the noise disturbance would not have occurred; and
• Under the terms of the lease, the landlord could have prevented the occupiers from carrying out those works and/or enforce the regulations relating to floor coverings
the landlord could not be said to have participated in (or authorised) the creation of the noise nuisance and was therefore not liable for it to the Claimant.
Whilst landlords will no doubt be relieved by this reassurance that simply having knowledge of breaches of lease by their tenants (and failing to do anything about it) does not necessarily make them liable for the resulting nuisance, landlords still need to be careful where they are put on notice that breaches are causing a nuisance. Landlords also need to be wary of falling foul of their obligation in one lease to enforce covenants given in another which are commonly seen in leases of flats.
If you need any assistance with an issue relating to a lease dispute please contact Debbie Whiteley on 0161 819 4920 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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