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I feel a neighbour dispute coming on and I have to prevent it...

(33 Posts)
bumblecrunch Mon 19-Jan-15 12:40:06

We own a flat which is on the market for sale. It's in a block - a very old building that has been converted. Our flat is sub-ground and the neighbour who has the flat above is complaining about noise.

The flat has been empty for a couple of months since the tenants left and it went up for sale. This weekend a friend of mine and her DD (4) were left in a dire situation so I said they should move in and live there until it sells, which will be a couple of months more likely three. I am not charging them rent and they are not signing any contract.

I am receiving very aggressive emails from the lady in the flat above, saying 'the child' woke her up at 7 when she doesn't have to get up till 8, 'the child' has been making noise, it is unacceptable and I have to pay for insulation etc.

I think the problem is that her flat and my flat used to be one, and the conversion was done badly and without insulation. I don't know this, but I know it happens a lot and seems the most likely cause.

I don't want to have to tick the 'neighbour dispute' box when i sell. I have answered one mail politely saying I will ask the neighbour to be aware there is poor sound insulation but I mean, I can't tell her to silence her child. She is a kind and decent person and not at all noisy. The neighbour has also said in view of the misery I have inflicted on her, she will be have no qualms about having her friends round for late night noisy drinks.

Does anyone have any guidance?

JoanHickson Mon 19-Jan-15 12:41:41

Tell your friends to move out. Never a good deed goes unpunished.

ajandjjmum Mon 19-Jan-15 12:44:41

Talk to your friend and explain the situation you are in. Obviously it is not reasonable to expect a child to make no noise, but for a short period of time she could perhaps encourage her to be quieter than might normally expected.

notonyourninny Mon 19-Jan-15 12:45:09

Im afraid this puts you in a difficult situation. I think your friend needs to move out you will have a dispute on your hands at selling.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 19-Jan-15 12:49:27

Is a complaint a 'dispute' though?

I'm not sure it is as you're describing normal household noise so I think I'd have ignored the email.

She's going to get a right shock when new buyers move in and she hears normal household noise every day.

bumblecrunch Mon 19-Jan-15 12:51:27

This is awful. It's going to highlight the fact that there is very poor sound-proofing between the flats.

She complained when my tenants were there, a young couple, very quiet. Someone is going to have to live in the flat below.

I probably already have to mention it on the form. sad

paul090971 Mon 19-Jan-15 12:51:33

Sorry but there doesnt sound much you can do, as you mention you can have a word with your tenant & say there is a miserable sod who lives above but 4 year old make noise. Hopefully the place will be sold soon anyway. If the person above is noisy late at night just call the police. They wont want a noise order issued against them.

I think you are mad by the way for not writing a contract. I know this sounds crazy but the place I am living in now had a massive dispute between sisters as a sister refused to move out when we had an offer accepted which was November 11. Moved in August 2012. If you sell & this person says I have nowhere to go you lose your buyer! Even if you trust them 110% get a contract signed. By law they have tenants rights & you have to give them 2 months notice in writing to move out.

paul090971 Mon 19-Jan-15 12:53:56

You dont have to mention it at all if nothing has been registered with your council & procedures started. I have been through this procedure before. Bloody terrible times.

scratchandsniff Mon 19-Jan-15 12:55:23

The child woke her up at 7 but she doesn't have to get up until 8? Boo hoo poor her. That's a ridiculous complaint to make. I do sympathise if people have genuinely noisy neighbours but she can't stop people going about their everyday lives. What's she going to do if someone with a small baby moves in. I wouldn't rush to pander to her. Mention to your friend and ask her to be more mindful of noise and then monitor the situation. I don't think this constitutes a dispute with a neighbour, not yet anyway.

specialsubject Mon 19-Jan-15 12:58:15

normally the issue with kids (and it is just tough, live with it) is their heavy-footedness. But if I have this right, the child is below the stroppy neighbour so unless the kid is dancing on the ceiling....

unless your tenants were trappist monks then the noise transmission won't be a new problem.

up to you if you want to noise insulate the flat for sale. But this won't get rid of the nasty piece of work upstairs. So you are now faced with selling on this problem. I really don't know what you can do.

minkGrundy Mon 19-Jan-15 13:01:23

I would look into how much sound proofing costs
and then get the contractors to make as much noise as possible when they install it

CleanLinesSharpEdges Mon 19-Jan-15 13:05:13

It's a ridiculous complaint from your neighbour. And she's in for a shock if a family with a few children move in - but by then it won't be your problem.

So you need to mention it to your friend, explain that the noise insulation is non existent, you don't want to have to declare any 'dispute' when you find a buyer and ask them to try and be quiet as mice until a sale goes through. Given that you're letting them live there for free, I don't think it's a big ask.

bumblecrunch Mon 19-Jan-15 14:16:01

Thanks. I will mention it to my friend. The neighbour is a bit of a thorn in the side of the right to manage company, which obvs. I'm also on and tries to block any maintenance repairs etc. so I think she is quite actively difficult rather than just a moaning minnie.

I have had a very quickly look into soundproofing, because basically this is her best option, for her floor. There are some good DIY solutions that can be retro-fitted but I don't dare send her a link in case she sees that as inflammatory blush

I know it's a risk letting my friend stay there, but I don't believe she would cause us a problem. If she does, well, I will learn a lesson the hard way.

ajandjjmum Mon 19-Jan-15 21:16:03

When we last sold (16 years ago) there had been an argument over fence positions (surprisingly enough!!) without neighbour. On the form we completed I just wrote 'We have never been in a legal dispute with our neighbours', which was absolutely true.

Don't know whether that type of comment would suffice now?

uncanny Tue 20-Jan-15 11:19:36

oh dear. So she has sent me another email that just says 'child woke me up at 7. This is going to be hell' and she has put a letter through the door of the flat telling my friend what she can and cannot do and letting her know that when she has her friends over they will be making lots of noise.

Thanks AJ&JJ that's a good idea.

shovetheholly Tue 20-Jan-15 12:11:19

What an obnoxious cow your neighbour is! You don't have to mention this on the form - yet. An 'argument' and a 'dispute' are not the same thing. But I think you're right to take action to keep this in the realms of the argument as far as you can. (Props to you for being such a loyal friend, by the way).

Keep contact with the aggressive neighbour to an absolute minimum. (If need be, put an out of office on your email to give you some time to reply - every day counts in this situation!). When you do email, keep it bland and as short as humanly possible - if it is just a few words on one line, that is fine. Do NOT be tempted to get involved at length. These type of people get a kick out of feeling that they can push others around. They are natural bullies. She knows your house is on the market, and is deliberately winding you up. Keeping stalling and sending holding emails for as long as you can.

Also, recognise that she is being unreasonable and has nowhere to turn for backup. The police and environmental health are not going to give her the time of day. Though you could always give her the number for the latter and suggest that she tries that route (she'll get nowhere with such a minor complaints about noise happening at a reasonable hour, but it'll buy you more time). Hopefully, if she takes this outside it may help her to realise that her behaviour is abnormal and strange! (I doubt she will, though, because these people actually know deep-down that they are being batshit crazy and they want to bully rather than to actually solve problems).

Your friend is now aware thanks to the note - maybe speak to her and tell her how worried you are about the situation. Explain that the neighbour is being completely unreasonable, but that you really do need to sell the flat, and would she mind terribly being as quiet as she possibly can? I am sure she will understand.

uncanny Tue 20-Jan-15 12:28:36

Thanks Shove - it's good to know I'm not being unreasonable!

I sent a short email in which I said it was important all parties communicated politely and in a manner conducive to mutual respect for each other's quiet enjoyment and suggested that as this problem would occur whoever lived below, investigating inexpensive sound-proofing options would be more helpful than asking people not to go about their daily business which in any case was contractually unenforceable.

She has told me 'the kid' is not allowed to use the patio!

I'm not going to have any further contact with her but I am quietly seething.

LBOCS Tue 20-Jan-15 12:51:08

Where does it say the child isn't allowed to use the patio?

Two things: read your lease. Most have a clause near the back under the regulations that says that the flats need to have an appropriately soundproofed flooring down; in most cases carpet.

LBOCS Tue 20-Jan-15 12:54:40

Stupid fat fingers... If your neighbour doesn't have carpet down, this will contribute to the noise travelling. Tell her that if she doesn't take the appropriate steps to soundproof her own property you make have to take further action via the RTM Co to enforce the lease terms.

Also, speak to the council, they have NO interest whatsoever in normal household noise. Then tell her to get back in her box.

And start some serious renovation works. Your lease and the local council will both think that 7am is an acceptable time to start building works. She will long for the days when it was just child noise waking her... wink

uncanny Tue 20-Jan-15 13:05:07

Oh dear she has just sent me a really bad email, the gist of which is:

'I think under the circumstances I'm being extremely reasonable even though you've put me in a very unpleasant situation.

"Normal sort of noise" is not a child squealing at the top of her voice at 7am in the morning and if it is people should be in normal accommodation for a family, terraced house etc, not flat, inflicting neighbours with this kind of noise.

What do I do? If it goes to environmental health, even though they will bounce her right back, I might be on dodgy ground not declaring that to a buyer.

I've never lived in the flat, we've only owned it for 2 years. She complained once before, a long time ago but nothing since.

<wails>

uncanny Tue 20-Jan-15 13:06:38

She has also said that it won't work if only she soundproofs her floor, and since I won't pay to have my half done it's pointless. I don't think that's true as surely if she puts down insulation it will make a massive difference.

I might suggest she gets some earplugs and a life

ajandjjmum Tue 20-Jan-15 13:09:53

I think you have to ask your friend to find alternative accommodation, otherwise you could be left with a flat on your hands! sad

TinyTear Tue 20-Jan-15 13:13:32

Can you check your lease? Noise is usually allowed 7 to 7(ish)

And if she doesn't have carpet she is most likely in breach of the lease as well...

I am in a flat and I have a 3yo... the person below me bothered us more than my DD every did her, as she would blare loud music at all hours and stomp and slam doors...

And we did put in special soundproofing underlay when we changed the carpets...

I would email the bint and say that the ONLY way for her to guarantee no noise would be to buy your flat and reconvert it back to one...

ContentedSidewinder Tue 20-Jan-15 13:16:07

I just wanted to give you a heads up about the form you have to fill in when you sell a property, an example of it here

It asks about "disputes and complaints" and you have to declare these incidents if they are on-going. I would take legal advice on this even if the friend moves out and then they become a thing of the past. The solicitor may also be able to advise you on the neighbours tit for tat threat of making noise herself.

If you think you can ignore that question and lie, new owners move in and the lady above shows the emails that you have exchanged about noise then you are screwed.

Sorry, your neighbour sounds unhinged. Why she hasn't looked into soundproofing the floor is a mystery.

bigmouthstrikesagain Tue 20-Jan-15 13:34:18

This reminds me of a situation with my mothers neighbour a couple of years ago. My mum is in the top floor of a converted Victorian house - she has a separate entrance and everything but obviously sound travels when you are in the top flat. The house is occupied by retired people (including mother) so they are pretty quiet on the whole - but turn their TVs up to hear them

Anyway I came to visit mum and as we live hundreds of miles away we stayed a couple of days. I had 3 children age 4,6 and 8 with me so yes there was a bit of noise associated and a lot of shushing - the kids were pretty good but they are used to living in a detatched house so the concept of not playfighting merrily was alien and there was a lot of telling off's etc. anyway the man downstairs started banging with his broom on his ceiling the first evening. The next day he had complained to his landlord making outlandish claims about mum moving people in! All could have been handled better by Mum - but she is a reclusive/ anxious type who would rather panic and brood in her flat than communicate and try and resolve an issue. Anyway obviously we were not moving in and we could reassure the landlord. But it shows how quickly people can get riled up about unexpected noise.

I think downstairs man over reacted but if Mum had popped over and said "my daughter is visiting for a couple of days so apologies if they disturb you but we will do our best to keep the noise down" - it may have averted the issue - it may not have - but we will never know. Similarly OP if you had spoken/ written to the neighbour to explain the temporary nature of your friend staying with her child - that may have helped or it may not - but if the neighbour is unhappy about noise created by one young child almost as soon as she arrived then probably not. It may help the situation to appear understanding and accommodating - offer your financial help with some noise insultion - £3-400 towards her costs - if you can afford it it may take the wind out of her sails and save your trouble anxiety / expense when selling the flat. It may not come to that but calculate how much you want her 'problem' to go away and what you are prepared to do to make it happen. You cannot control her actions unfortunately - I hope you can resolve things op - good luck.

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