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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50175
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Our downstairs neighbour is harassing us in our

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Our downstairs neighbour is harassing us for walking in our flat between 7.30 and 8.30 am (our dining room is above her bedroom). We have installed thicker sound insulation and carpeting but she has sent her son round who is trying to bully us into making major structural changes to our property. We feel we cannot live like this - we feel constantly under threat in our own home.
Hello have you or they complained to anyone about this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No not yet
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Although I have contacted my solicitor to tell them of the general problem, I haven't yet made a formal request that a letter be sent as I don't want to escalate the situation.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
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Are you both owners or do either of you rent?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We are both owners: I have a 999 year lease on the property, but downstairs owns the freehold of the whole building. My lease states that my property goes down to and includes the joists between the flats, and that the freeholder has no authority to make me make structural changes to my flat.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I should add that there are only 2 flats in the building.
Such disputes are not uncommon, especially when it concerns old buildings where the soundproofing is poor. I understand that you cannot be forced to make structural changes but you should also check the lese to see if there is anything about what you are expected to do, such as have carpeted floors or other soundproofing. If it is an old lease that may not be mentioned but still check it. In the end, regardless of what is in the lease, you are expected to keep noise levels to a reasonable level and even if you have installed sound proofing and carpets, it may still be the case that the noise levels are unreasonable. Of course I am not saying they are but it is possible. So whilst you cannot be forced to make structural changes, you may be expected to do this if it is the only way to reduce noise to a reasonable level. Before you even consider going down that route you should try to establish if the noise levels are actually unreasonable at present. Instead of just trusting their opinion you should get an independent party involved to determine this. They should contact the Local Authority to try and get the noise levels investigated and if it is determined that they are unreasonable then at least you know that more work will be needed to reduce these. However, if they are considered fine, you can ask the neighbours to stop discussing this, otherwise you will formally treat it as harassment and take further steps. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the law on harassment and how you can use it to your advantage, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** very helpful. We do comply with the lease in that we have carpet and underlay in the dining room. I have suggested to the downstairs neighbour that she contacts the Council, though she doesn't seem to have done this yet. But it is good to know that this was the best course to suggest.Having just spent nearly £2000 on new floor covering we are obviously unwilling to take up all our floorboards, though we realise that we may have to as a last resort. We also think it is not appropriate for the conversion as it would make gas and water pipes (which runs form the front and back of the flat) inaccessible. We have, however, offer to contribute to the cost of sound insulation in the downstairs flat.
We do, however think the noise does *not* exceed the acceptable level for normal domestic activity, which the Council have said they take no action on.
Thank you. There is only so much you can do in the end and what is expected of you is only to keep noise levels to a reasonable minimum, taking into account the circumstances, such as the property itself, the age and general insulation etc. So you may never be able to completely remove any noise. If it is deemed that the noise levels are not unreasonable and they continue to pester you, then such conduct could potentially amount to harassment, which could be both a civil matter and a criminal one. The law states that a person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he or she knows or ought to know amounts to harassment. Although there is no definition of what specifically amounts to harassment, it would usually include alarming a person or causing them distress and must have occurred on at least two occasions. Under criminal law, and if this is reported to the police who then take action, the punishment for harassment can be imprisonment and/or a fine. A court may also impose a restraining order for the purpose of protecting the victim. In addition to criminal action, a civil claim can also be brought against a person who is alleged to be guilty of causing harassment. The courts would award compensation to the victim, something that is unlikely to happen if this is pursued as a criminal issue. So in the first instance the police can be contacted and this matter reported to them as harassment. However, they will not often get involved in trivial disputes so if they believe that this is not serious enough they could refuse to help and advise you that this is a civil matter. In such circumstances, the victim can warn the harasser that their actions are being treated as harassment and that unless they refrain from such behaviour in the future they will be reported to the police and legal action under harassment legislation taken against them.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That is really helpful. Hopefully it won't come to this, but it is good to know what the legal situation is. One more question - if the son, who does not live on or own the property, keeps contacting us on his mother's behalf, should I ask if he has power of attourney? Can he intervene like this on someone else's behalf?
He does not need formal power of attorney to act on her behalf - she could have just given her permission for him to do this and whilst you can ask for confirmation from her that this is the case, I do not believe she will deny she has given him permission
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
OK that's. Thanks for all your help.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
sorry, should have said - that's helpful!
You are most welcome, all the best