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Dealing with noise caused by disrepair or a breach of building regulations

This content applies to England & Wales

Noise that may be caused by problems at the occupier's own property .

Noise from an occupier's own property may be due to disrepair – for which the occupier may have remedies for breach of repairing obligations or under the Defective Premises Act 1972 – or due to a breach of the Building Regulations.

Breach of repairing obligations

Most tenancies have express and implied terms that oblige the landlord to carry out certain repairs. An 'express term' is a term that is stated explicitly in the tenancy agreement, eg to keep the property in good repair. An 'implied term' is one that is implied by a statute or common law. The most common example is a landlord's obligation under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the property, and keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the property for the supply of water, gas, electricity, sanitation, space heating and heating water.

Noise is not likely to be covered directly by an express term or an implied term of the tenancy. However, a noise may be due to something in disrepair, which the landlord is obliged to repair, eg a faulty boiler.

For more information about a tenant's rights to repair under the tenancy, see the section on Contractual rights including section 11.

Defective Premises Act 1972

Noise may be caused by negligent work which has been carried out to the property or because the property was built negligently. In either situation, the occupier may be able to make a claim for damages for negligence against the landlord or, if the property is owner-occupied, then against whoever carried out the work, by using the Defective Premises Act 1972.

Building regulations

When a property is built or converted, or major works carried out, then the builder, which may include the owner of the premises,[1] must comply with the Building regulations issued under the Building Act 1984. Part E in Schedule 1 to the current regulations[2] is about resistance to the passage of the sound. The Secretary of State has issued the related technical guidance in Approved Document E.

If there is noise due to non-compliance with Approved Document E, then the occupier may be able to compel the builder to carry out the work necessary to ensure the situation is put right. For more information, an occupier should contact a Building Control officer at the local council.

[1] Blaenau Gwent BC v Khan, The Times, 4 May 1993.

[2] Building Regulations 2010 SI 2010/2214.

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