The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - Money

Landlords beware: renting out a noisy property could land you in court


One tenant wants £9,000 damages over his noisy Notting Hill flat, says Adam Williams

Finding you have a noisy neighbour after you move into a new home is most people’s idea of hell. Yet if this nightmare takes place in a rented property, it could create problems not just for the tenant but for the landlord and letting agent. They can face legal challenges even though the law does not require them to inform tenants of any previous noise problems.

One disgruntle­d Telegraph Money reader, Nick Hatter, 27, is suing his former landlord and letting agent over what he deemed “excessive noise” at his home in Notting Hill, west London. He is claiming thousands of pounds in damages.

The law says tenants have the right to “quiet use and enjoyment” of their home, but this merely prevents the landlord entering the property without the tenant’s permission. Lee Dowling of LMD Law said there was no obligation for landlords to provide informatio­n about any previous nuisance or antisocial behaviour.

“Unlike in a sale process, where disclosure is required, prospectiv­e tenants do not generally make formal written inquiries about the property or its circumstan­ces,” he said. “Tenants may ask questions during a viewing, which means contract law regarding misreprese­ntation would apply.”

However, Mr Dowling warned that proving what the landlord knew about the neighbours’ behaviour made legal claims difficult. “The reality here is that it can be hard for the tenant to prove wrongdoing,” he added.

James Davis of Upad, a letting agent, said landlords should declare any known noise issues, including one-off events such as music festivals and carnivals, during the viewing process. “It is advisable to inform the tenant of anything that may harm their enjoyment of the property,” he said.

Mr Hatter has launched legal action against his former landlord, Mariana Visintin, and letting agent, Marsh & Parsons, as he said he felt he had been mis-sold his rented flat. Mr Hatter, a life coach, moved into the property earlier this year and immediatel­y had to contend with noisy neighbours in the flat above.

As he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, he had specifical­ly requested a quiet flat. But he said the noise meant he was unable to work or live in the property.

“Marsh & Parsons showed me this really nice ground-floor flat but I said I was concerned that noise from above would be a problem,” he said. “The agent assured me that noise wouldn’t be an issue, but from the day I moved in it was quite loud. Within the first week I was being woken up at 2am by the neighbours.”

He moved out after 10 days. “I could hear people walking around talking, I could hear the London Undergroun­d, I could even hear the neighbour when she coughed,” he added.

Mr Hatter argued that he had the “right to unwind” the contract, a legal protection when something has been mis-sold, but this was rejected by the other parties. He wanted all fees and moving costs to be refunded by Marsh & Parsons, which it refused. “It’s completely outrageous,” he said.

He is now seeking more than £9,000 in damages from Marsh & Parsons and his former landlord, who he claims was aware of the noise issues. This comprises all money and fees paid at the start of the tenancy and £5,000 in lost earnings because he was unable to work from home. He also incurred medical, credit card and removal company fees.

Marsh & Parsons said Mr Hatter had viewed the flat multiple times and added that it could not be held responsibl­e for any noise. The firm said it had also offered to waive £444 in tenant fees due. Once legal proceeding­s had been launched, Marsh & Parsons declined to comment further.

Ms Visintin did not respond to requests for comment but it is understood that she has launched a countercla­im against Mr Hatter.

Mr Dowling said a lack of formal rules regarding noisy neighbours left all parties open to legal challenges. “While a tenant may request that a landlord takes action against nuisance neighbours, these are not strictly matters for the landlord and tenant relationsh­ip,” he warned. Mr Davis suggested that landlords could make modificati­ons to their properties, such as installing double glazing, to avoid such problems.

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