Before the Covid-19 pandemic even started individuals with noisy neighbours were twice as likely to suffer from depression, and half of those struggling with debt also had a mental health problem. Therefore, it should not come as surprise to learn that the UK Government’s lockdown measures and the fragile economy arising from Covid-19 situation have exacerbated mental health problems across the UK. Whilst physical health and safety remains a priority, we must not abandon effective legal and personal measures to reduce the long-term mental health impacts that this Covid-19 pandemic is bound to have on many people.
Non-Payment of Rent
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the UK Government published non-statutory guidance for landlords and tenants in the private and social rented sector in March 2020, with a view to trying to help these parties understand the implications of the Coronavirus Act 2020. Landlords and tenants alike are understandably likely to be anxious of the potential consequences of non-payment of rent.
Tenants experiencing financial difficulty who are concerned they are unable to pay rent should communicate this to their Landlord at the earliest opportunity, likewise, if a landlord suspects their tenant is struggling to make rent payments they should act promptly to reach an amicable resolution by reaching out to their tenant. A possible resolution to try to get through these unprecedented times may be entering into a temporary reduced rent agreement and subsequent arrears repayment plan, or an agreement by the landlord not to commence possession proceedings against a tenant for an agreed period of time.
Whilst there is currently a suspension on new or existing possession claims being issued at Court, it is important for landlords and tenants to obtain legal advice at an early stage so as to best understand the options specifically available based on their own personal situation and circumstance, as possible ways forward will vary from case to case. Neglecting to address concerns of non-payment of rent, or refusing to reasonably engage with your landlord/tenant is likely to cause months of unnecessary stress and uncertainty, and may result in legal proceedings being taken once the UK Government moratorium is lifted, when such proceedings could, and possibly should, have been avoided if the parties in question had just talked to each other, voicing any and all concerns they have. Furthermore, if Court proceedings are initiated then it remains vitally important that parties can evidence they have acted reasonably at all times so as to avoid possible costs penalties being levied against them by the Court if they have in fact acted improperly, unreasonably or without good reason or notice.
Confining the majority of the UK population to their homes is inevitably going to increase the amount of general noise being made by households at all times of the day. However, whilst neighbours should be mindful to tolerate reasonable levels of increased noise as a result of the current circumstances and UK Government lockdown guidance, individuals suffering from invasive and excessive noise exposure have a right of action to stop a continuation of the nuisance being suffered.
In the first instance, it is important to contact the offending neighbour to address the problem and file a complaint with the Local Authority if no amicable resolution is reached between the parties themselves. If the Local Authority’s intervention fails to achieve a resolution to the problem, then there are various nuisance claims that can be brought against a noisy neighbour or a noisy neighbour’s landlord.
A private nuisance claim may be brought against the neighbour where the noise is interfering with your quiet enjoyment of the premises, with the remedies available being an injunction and/or award for damages. In cases where tenants are residing in a block of residential flats, there may also be an option to bring a claim against the landlord, who is under an implied obligation to allow their tenants “quiet enjoyment” of the premises, but this will only be the case where it can be shown that the landlord is participating in or in some way facilitating the noise nuisance to take place.
It is important to take a pragmatic approach to issues that may rise during the Covid-19 pandemic, being mindful of not only our own mental health but also the mental health of others. Legal action should be instigated only as a last resort and in the first instance parties should engage with each other to talk about what is going on and to try and reach an agreed resolution. It is also worth seeking legal advice as early as possible and so if you need advice or assistance on any of the issues mentioned in this article please contact Laura Cotzias at firstname.lastname@example.org or another member of our expert Dispute Resolution team on 020 7631 4141 or email email@example.com.
The above is accurate as at 18 May 2020. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case by case basis.