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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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Morning. We are in dispute with our upstairs neighbour about

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Morning. We are in dispute with our upstairs neighbour about a right to light issue. We have an internal window which separates the hallways of our 2 flats. Opposite this internal window we have an external window which is in our hallway. Our neighbour has put his piano against the internal window and obviously the noise from this travels through out our flat. He refuses to move it so we have been advised by sound proofing specialists to cover the window. However, our neighbour says we are not allowed due to his right to light- even though he has placed things against it his side blocking out half the light. He also says we are not allowed to pull the blinds on our external windows as this would limit his light?! We do not know about this law so before we do anythng would like to be clear on our position. Obviously we need to do something as the noise is a problem... Many thanks, Carly
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 9 months ago.

Do you mean that when he plays the piano, because the only thing that separating you from him is the glass, it’s almost like being in the same room with the music?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
exactly! And he fails to see this. We can also hear him on the phone and yawning. All the rooms in our flat are below his, but the window allows this noise to travel and when he plays it is very loud.... he says he is not unreasonable as will only practise for an hr or so a day, but the point for us is not how often, its how much the noise affects us. We don't want him to have to stop but surely he should be considerate as to how it affects others
Expert:  F E Smith replied 9 months ago.

I assume that this light has been enjoyed through that window for more than 20 years and the right is not excluded in the deeds. The neighbour is absolutely correct that if you block this window, you would be obstructing his right to light and he could potentially bring an action against you. It does not matter that it’s an internal window all that matters is that it’s a window into a room. It could even be a garage. Whether blocking this window be actionable or not would depend on what other windows there are in the room and the amount of light which goes into that room from those other windows. Before any right to light obstruction action will succeed, the right to light must be reduced by a broad brush strokes 50% and that is a lot of light to have reduced. It is most unlikely that blocking this internal window will need to a reduction in light of 50%.

you might want to suggest that the neighbour takes legal advice although these few pages explain in relatively simple terms the situation.

http://www.abcplans.co.uk/uploads/frontend/media/documents/rightstolight.pdf

it would be worthwhile thrusting them in front of him.

If you simply block the window, is then going to have to go to court which is not going to be cheap risk-free and he is likely to lose. If you have insurance on your property, check to see if there is legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal costs of the litigation as this is included with many contents and bricks and mortar policies.

What the neighbour appears to forget however is that the piano music or noise in general is nuisance. It may be that the piano is quite pleasant (if he is a reasonable player) but whether it’s pleasant or not is not relevant. You may not like piano music. You may not like the piano music which he plays.

You could get an injunction to make him stop the noise if it’s obtrusive during the day. However rather than spend or risk money on applying to court for an injunction, speak to the Environmental Health Department at the local authority who can issue a noise abatement notice if they are of the opinion that this noise from the piano is of such a level to constitute nuisance. For some reason, the neighbour seems to have forgotten that point.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please don’t forget to rate the service positive. It’s an important part of the process by which experts get paid.

Best wishes.

FES.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
That is helpful thank you. I take it then that there is no rule to say we cannot close the curtains on the external windows on our side ?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
There doesn't seem to be much we can do then apart from keeping on at him to try and reduce the noise his side?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 9 months ago.

There is nothing in the legislation about “temporary” interference with the right to light and of course, if you keep drawing the curtains back and to, all he could do is get an injunction from the court to stop you drawing the curtains. I am still of the opinion that even blocking this window will not reduce the light into that room by 50% and hence is not actionable. However, I haven’t seen the layout.

It really is not a case of keeping on at him to try and reduce the noise on his side, it’s a case of referring the matter to the Environmental Health Department at the local authority can actually if you her noise abatement notice to compel him to reduce the noise and get rid of it altogether. The Environmental Health Department have quite Draconian powers in that respect.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
OK, many thanks for your help. Carly
Expert:  F E Smith replied 9 months ago.

I’m glad to help. Please don’t forget to rate the service. It doesn’t cost you any extra but it does help me greatly.

Best wishes

F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 8975
Experience: I have been practising for 30 years.
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