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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 30009
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I have trouble with upstairs neighbour as he complained I

Customer Question

I have trouble with upstairs neighbour as he complained I played piano at home
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: I based in london
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: nothing
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I will explain the details to the lawyers
Submitted: 16 days ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 16 days ago.

Hello and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 15 years’ experience. Please be aware that although I will endeavour to reply to you promptly, I am also in full time private practice and so I may not be available to respond immediately and it may also take me a few minutes to prepare a reply. The site will notify you as soon as I respond. I look forward to working with you to answer your question fully.

I am very sorry to read of the above and I imagine how frustrating it must be.

May I confirm the nature of the trouble please? I note you refer to a complaint regarding a piano?

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
I am a music teacher and moved to this flat since 2019 and never had any trouble with any neighbours. Since pandemic started, I have moved all my teaching to online teaching which means there is way less sounds come from my home as I mainly to listen to my students to play or sing on their pianos through ipad. I never played before 9am or after 9pm, but recently upstairs neighbour became very unreasonable and aggressive. He seems not happy to hear any sounds from my flat. He made his first complaint to the management office and my landlord. I replied with the true situation and confirmed that I am not making musical noises. then everything back normal, but this neighbour started again, made another complaint against me saying that I am running a business at home which isn’t not allowed in a rented flat. I don’t consider to give few online piano/singing tuition is running a business at home. however my landlord emailed me and asked me to stop the teaching immediately and not allowed me and my 5 years of daughter to even touch the piano or singing at home.
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
I have found it’s extremely unfair and unreasonable to be asked so. I am paying very high rent to my landlord every month, my landlord knows me that I am a music teacher and moved in with a grand piano which is definitely not just a piece of furniture to use. They used a clause in the contract saying it indicated “not play musical instrument/loud music”, but before I signed the contract with the agent I did ask about this and agent says it’s fine as long as I don’t play it too loud or outside the social hours, so I signed the contract and the landlord saw the piano many times even heard me playing once while he was in the flat doing maintenance work and he didn’t say a thing.
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Last evening I went to ring the door of this upstairs neighbour but he said he was with someone so not convenient to talk but I have got his number. right after I got his number and return home at 8.30pm, my 5 years daughter was softly singing a song to me before her bed time even without piano, then immediately he started hitting his floor with a heavy stuff very hard and scared my daughter to cry. then I realised this guy is just being not responsible at all, even though I still sent him a message wishing we can communicate with each other to find. good way for this issue but no response since then. I really need to know what to do. please help. my friends advised me that claiming to them that I am not teaching not running any business at home, I have got a private access to my flat so nobody should come to stop at my door to supervise me teaching or playing piano at home or not, what do you think? We don’t want to move just because this difficult neighbours as we have good relationship with all other neighbours around us. also we are happily settled down here and moving again will be a very troubled thing for us
Expert:  Joshua replied 16 days ago.

thank you. Finally, could you tell me if the fixed period of your tenancy has expired or whether you are still within any period of fixed term?

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
the tenancy is till sep next year, I am a very good tenant and my landlord is happy that I always pay the rent in half year advanced(6 months rent each payment) so I don’t really think the landlord wants me to go and we definitely don’t want to move away just this one difficult neighbour.
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
I couldn’t sleep at all last night as this issue is really disturbing me. I also know that give private music tuition at home doesn’t really count as running a proper business and it’s in a grey area in law.
Expert:  Joshua replied 16 days ago.

Thank you. the small business enterprise and employment act 2015 is now in force which introduced a new concept known as a "home business tenancy". This provides for a framework for individuals to run businesses which do not cause any substantive nuisance from home and request permission from landlords which in turn cannot unreasonably withhold permission.

You can therefore consider referring the landlord to sections 35 and 36 of the small business enterprise and employment act 2015 and once again ask him to provide consent for you to continue to run your business pointing out that it is unlawful for him to unreasonably withhold consent in this respect. The only valid basis upon which the landlord can withhold consent is if he can show that the business will cause a nuisance, will result in greater wear and tear on the property or that it might give rise to a business tenancy and from what you describe, none of these are likely with the possible exception of the nuisance provision.

in the meantime, given the provisions of the act, it seems reasonable for you to continue to operate your business as in practice there is little the landlord will be able to do in this respect. His only option is to seek possession proceedings against you which are unlikely to be successful in view of thee above.

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
your opinion sounds very valuable for me, thank you. but what about my landlord says that I did sign the contract which one clause indicated that not playing musical instrument/loud music”? as I said that I did sign it but the agent promised me that as long as I don’t play too loud not too early or late is fine, but unfortunately I haven’t asked it as in writing
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
now the landlord even asked me and my 5 years old daughter not to even touch the piano or singing at home at a flat I pay so high rent every month
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

clause which unreasonably restrict the use of a premises will generally be deemed as unenforceable as unfair contract terms under the consumer rights act. Accordingly, a prohibition on playing any musical instrument is unlikely to be enforceable under the consumer rights act and in addition, it does not override the provisions of the small business enterprise and employment act 2015 which specifically put in place provisions to enable the running of a business which may otherwise be prohibited under a tenancy agreement or as a result of an unreasonable landlord.

There is clearly an issue of potential nuisance with regards ***** ***** lessons but providing music is not constant or in particular been played at unsociable hours which from what you say is not the case, there is unlikely to be any statutory nuisance available as a complaint to the neighbour.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
thank you for your valuable opinion. But according to the contract, by the clause. that we both can give two months notice to end the tenancy. I don’t think my landlord wants me to leave as we are good tenants and paying the rent 6 months upfront. I don’t want to move either for this bad neighbour as we are happily settled down here. So I worry if the neighbour keeps been unreasonable and difficult and keep complaining, the landlord might just give me a two months notice and ask me to move? is there a way I can stop this happen?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

the clause you refer to would be subject to the minimum period of the tenancy. Neither you nor the landlord can unilaterally enter the tenancy before the end of the fixed term.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I have prepared a letter explained to the landlord they actually it’s the neighbour been very unreasonable as we moved here since 2019 and he never complained but only now. He was quite aggressively making noises upstairs and not happy to hear any sounds come from downstairs which is my flat. I also said I am not running business here and I mainly teach at schools and students houses. They don’t have proof that I am occasionally teaching at home just online. And I also said I will put more blankets to cover my piano to reduce the sound to minimum. and also left a message to upstairs neighbour wishing to communicate with him in a nice way and sort the issue out. So what else I can do then?
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
I also got a character letter from my next door neighbour who sharing the same wall with my flat and gurenteed that I am a well behaved good neighbour and they couldn’t hear any noises from my flat. I think it’s gonna help with the situation if I send it to my landlord and management office?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

as above, it seems to me you can consider proceeding in the above manner, namely asking again for permission to carry out some teaching from the premises referring to the above act requiring the landlord not to unreasonably withhold consent. In the meantime, I cannot see any particular reason why you should not carry on as it seems to me there is little the landlord can do in practice unless he can actually prove nuisance and as you say, the landlord is unlikely to be terribly motivated in this matter as it is not causing him any inconvenience and you are a good tenant

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
how about if the bd neighbour keeps making complaint and to save the trouble, the landlord just give me 2
months notice to leave?
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

the landlord cannot give you two months notice to leave during any part of the fixed tenancy as he is prevented from doing so by virtue of the landlord and tenant act. The notice can only be given to end no earlier than the last day of the tenancy other than by something called a section 8 notice which can be served if the landlord claims you are in breach of a covenant in the tenancy agreement. He must then proceed to court for possession proceedings which will take months and will then almost certainly fail as the court has discretion as regards ***** ***** possession in such circumstances and almost never will do so on the first offence providing the tenant agrees to cease the breach of covenant if the court agrees that there has been one which in this case is not obvious that you have

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
but according to the break clause it seems the landlord can give me two months notice
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

s21 Housing Act 1988 sets out the basis on which possession of the property can be recovered. This trumps any provision in the tenancy.

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1988/50/section/21

as you will see, this provision provides that the tenancy could not be ended earlier than the end of the fixed term other than in situations where there is a breach of tenancy (e.g. non payment of rent)

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
you are so good
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
you are definitely my favourite lawyer
Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

That is very kind. I hope I've been able to set your mind at rest a little but if you have any further questions, please revert to me.

Expert:  Joshua replied 15 days ago.

I'm glad the above answers all your questions for now. If you have any follow up questions please do reply back to me.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
dear *****, I did reply to my landlord as they said I breached the contract as I was playing the piano and singing disturbed my neighbour upstairs so they have got the complaint and forbid me to do any teaching and not even touch the piano or singing. I did reply saying that I am not teaching or running business in the flat but me and my daughter need to play the piano and sing sometimes. and it’s clause is not override the law. I also sent a neighbour’s reference letter as they are just next me sharing the same wall and they never heard any noises from us. today the landlord has replied as this
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Thank you for your email.
I would like to correct that we were not informed about your piano and we have not told the agents that you could play piano when it is clearly stated in the contract as something that you cannot do.
The playing of musical instruments is very rarely allowed in leasehold properties as it tends to disrupt neighbours due to the sound and vibrations reaching their properties. Whilst it can be lovely for some, unfortunately not everyone feels the same and a neighbour is complaining.
The bot***** *****ne is that the playing of a musical instrument is not allowed in the flat and you have signed a contract agreeing to this. As I explained this is also a condition in our lease and we cannot have this matter escalating further. This has nothing to do with the Consumer Right Act.
I hope that this matter can be resolved swiftly.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
please help me what I can do or what I should do? the upstairs neighbour refused to communicate with me even I tried to resolve it in a peaceful way. to he honest there is really not much noises from my flat as we have got a very high ceiling also our piano is covered quite well.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
this neighbour never complained for the past 2.5 years and just started recently.
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
what if he keeps making bad complaint and do you think my landlord will give me two months notices and asked me to leave saying that I have breached contract?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

It is not common for leases to provide that you cannot play musical instruments; rather, leases will typically provide that you cannot play them after a certain time. Loud or persistent playing of musical instruments can about to a statutory nuisance but not the playing of musical instrument itself. you can put the landlord to authority on what they claim as they will find I think there is none.

I can only reiterate that you consider referring the landlord to the above legislation which I have quoted above and that he cannot reasonably refuse permission for you to work from home unless he can show it causes a nuisance. In the meantime I cannot see that you should not continue as you are as there is little the landlord can do about it and advise the landlord that you will look for another property at the end of the term if this is their wish or words to this effect.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I would love that the landlord allows me to do little teaching at home, as you said according to the law in 2015, especially the pandemic situation, lots of people need to work from home. but the reality is that my landlord is definitely not going to allow me to teach at this property as even they are not allowing me to play the piano at home at all! and they have got their reason as they have received the complaint from upstairs neighbour and they just take it as a nuisance. So what can I still say then?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

Respectfully ***** ***** have not made this point clear enough above because it is likely key and I want to highlight it again. There is very little the landlord can do. You have asked his permission. He has arguably refused unlawfully contrary to the above legislation. Accordingly you can take a position that his refusal is unlawful and advise that you will continue to use the property for lawful purposes in accordance with the above legislation. From there, if the landlord feel strongly enough about it, you will have to serve you with a section 8 notice and then bring possession proceedings which will take 4-8 months to come to a hearing and the court is highly unlikely to order eviction on these grounds.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
thank you very very much. I was so stressed that I pay so much rent in a flat but can’t even play and sing. The thing is that although the tenancy agreement is fixed for 3 years and expired till sep next year, so if I keep playing the piano in a normal hours and upstairs neighbour keeps complaining, then after Sep next year, I will have to leave if the landlord doesn’t want to renew the contract right?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

The landlord can bring "no fault" possession proceedings after the end of the fixed term. What this means in practice is that he may serve you notice to leave which cannot expire earlier than the fixed term and providing he gets the notice correct and has served all the required documents to go along with that notice, then he would be successful in bringing possession proceedings but if you refuse to leave on the last day of the tenancy, he would still need to apply to court. He can apply using the accelerated procedure which is a little faster (but is not what I would describe as fast) and unless he has made a mistake with the notice, he would be successful in attaining possession proceedings eventually at court. He would then finally need to obtain a warrant for possession to appoint bailiffs some four weeks later if you still refused to leave. Accordingly, you would even in a worst-case scenario still have some not inconsiderable time after the end of the tenancy but if the landlord makes it plain he wants you to leave, it would be sensible to commence the search for a new property either before the end of the term or at least shortly thereafter so you do not run yourself out of time.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I am sure my landlord doesn’t want to lose such good tenant like me who has great credit references and paying 6 months the rent every half year upfront. But if they keep receiving the complaint from upstairs neighbour and saying “the bot***** *****ne is that playing of a musical instrument is not allowed in the flat and you have signed a contract agreeing to this. This is also a condition in their lease and they can’t have this matter escalating further and this has nothing to do with the consumer right act”
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I don’t think there is any lease indicts this condition that tenants or leaseholder can’t play any musical instrument at all. I do find it’s very strange
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I understand the eviction process as I have evicted one of my tenants who didn’t pay rent for over a year. What if I keep paying the rent after the fixed tenancy ended?
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
but then the landlord can increase the rent very high to push me to go when the current tenancy agreement ended, right? or I don’t need to renew but something called rolling contract?
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

the landlord cannot unilaterally increase the rent at the end of the fixed term. Rather, he must either agree a rent increase with you, serve a statutory form 4 giving you one months notice of any rent increase and allowing you the opportunity to appeal the rent increase to the property tribunal or seek to evict you and then put in place a new agreement following election with a new tenant on whatever terms the landlord can agree

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
such a great help I have received from you. really appreciated. could we keep this conversation open as I might ask you more questions
Expert:  Joshua replied 14 days ago.

I'm glad the above answers all your questions for now. If you have any follow up questions please revert to me.