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Noisy Flat Above is There Anyting We Can Do

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 15 Aug 2019 | comments*Discuss
 

Q.

We live in an old house (1890) that has been converted into flats, and the noise from the flat above is quite intrusive at times. We can hear footsteps, voices, items being dropped on the floor etc. We have addressed the problem with our new neighbours by letter and things have improved a little. The issue is that the flat is rented so the problem doesn't feel like it will ever go away. Barring expensive insulation solutions is there anything we can do to lessen the noise?

(Miss G Bell, 10 September 2008)

A.

If the house was converted into flats after you moved in, the first thing to establish is whether or not planning permission was granted for that. And, if that was the case, then you should be asking if soundproofing was specified in the plans and if that was one of the conditions of permission being granted. Even if planning permission was obtained at the time, with or without soundproofing, there are still things you can do.

Firstly, you should try to speak directly to the neighbours in question. With disputes that arise from noise levels, it’s often the case that the people concerned are not even aware that they are causing a problem. Therefore, in explaining the situation to them, it may be perfectly possible to rectify the issue amicably. If your neighbours are uncooperative, however, the next stage should be to inform the landlord of the property (as you state that it is rented) and ask them to speak about the noise issues with the neighbours themselves. It may well be that your landlord will be sympathetic to the problem and make provisions for having soundproofing installed underneath the floor above. Alternatively, a stern rebuke from the landlord might be sufficient to eradicate the problem.

Should all of the above fail, you should contact your local authority who will appoint one of their Environmental Health Officers to look at the case. Since the Noise Act of 1996 was established, an Environmental Health Officer can issue a warning to your neighbours if noise levels exceed a certain level. This warning can then be followed by a fine if the tenants fail to reduce their noise levels. Further action can also be taken.

Your question doesn’t mention excessively loud music, however, nor does it state at what time of day the noise is occurring, and these are two fairly important factors. For example, if it’s simply “footsteps, voices and items being dropped” as you suggest, it may simply be a case that better soundproofing is needed in the property. Also, remember that your local authority is going to look more closely at excessive noise levels which persist between the hours of 11pm and 7am, and allow a little more leniency at other times.

If you feel as though you have no option left but to turn to the Environmental Health Department, make sure you keep a log as to what time of day the excessive noise is taking place and what it consists of. You should also see if you can get any fellow neighbours to do the same, if they the noise levels have become an issue to them too. All information you can gather will assist the Environmental Health Officer if they decides to investigate further.

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Something like one of the previous posters, I also once invested in something to help with the noise problems in a flat I moved into. It was a crumby flat in Manchester where you just knew the sound insulation was going to be pretty poor, and where any sound made could create a reaction from the flat below.I was gasping and treading on eggshells to be quiet, but when I eventually made a sound of any kind, which is kind of inevitable, there would be an echo.After four months I'd had enough of that.I thought about what I could do and bought a remote controlled fart machine. And then, for a while, it was like, noise of me putting washed up plate back in dishrack, echo, (parp).Noise of my flushing the toilet, echo, (phorarrh), noise of me stubbing my toe, echo, (phoraroargh) and so on. After about 3 daysI didn't have to use it any more. Turned out it was a mental patient doing that who went out a couple of times a week to visit her equally fat mother across town. Don't suffer in silence.
Paul K - 15-Aug-19 @ 12:24 AM
Something like one of the previous posters, I also once invested in something to help with the noise problems in a flat I moved into. It was a crumby flat in Manchester where you just knew the sound insulation was going to be pretty poor, and where any sound made could create a reaction from the flat below.I was gasping and treading on eggshells to be quiet, but when I eventually made a sound of any kind, which is kind of inevitable, there would be an echo.After four months I'd had enough of that.I thought about what I could do and bought a remote controlled fart machine. And then, for a while, it was like, noise of me putting washed up plate back in dishrack, echo, (parp).Noise of my flushing the toilet, echo, (phorarrh), noise of me stubbing my toe, echo, (phoraroargh) and so on. After about 3 daysI didn't have to use it any more. Turned out it was a mental patient doing that who went out a couple of times a week to visit her equally fat mother across town. Don't suffer in silence.
Paul K - 13-Aug-19 @ 10:52 PM
Something like one of the previous posters, I also once invested in something to help with the noise problems in a flat I moved into. It was a crumby flat in Manchester where you just knew the sound insulation was going to be pretty poor, and where any sound made could create a reaction from the flat below.I was gasping and treading on eggshells to be quiet, but when I eventually made a sound of any kind, which is kind of inevitable, there would be an echo.After four months I'd had enough of that.I thought about what I could do and bought a remote controlled fart machine. And then, for a while, it was like, noise of me putting washed up plate back in dishrack, echo, <>.Noise of my flushing the toilet, echo, <>, noise of me stubbing my toe, echo, <> and so on. After about 3 daysI didn't have to use it any more. Turned out it was a mental patient doing that who went out a couple of times a week to visit her equally fat mother across town. Don't suffer in silence.
Paul K - 13-Aug-19 @ 10:46 PM
Doesn't matter if the neighbours have a lease, the restrictions are in the freehold. I have some D-heads living above me who claim they have bought the lease on their flat.They have a dog, (violation of tenancy)and delusions of grandeur . They also live in a council controlled building owned by the Duke of Westminster/Grosvenor estates. The building has a covenant on it and can never be sold as leased apartments /dwellings etc. If someone modifies an old building/flat etc, it has to conform with current building regulations. If a lessee modifies their space without permission from the freeholder, they could be evicted and forfeit the property to the freeholder
Kingdom - 31-Jul-19 @ 12:51 AM
Sorry I forgot to add we are council tenants and the property above is a leasehold
Tonyr - 30-Jul-19 @ 11:07 AM
My partner and I moved into a 1 bedroom ground floor flat in a converted local authority house, my partner had stage 4 cancer a few years ago and has been left with mobility issues, as well as anxiety and depression, For the first few months everything was fine then the family that lives above us at the time it was 2 adults a 5 year old and a 3 year old, We then started to experience lots of noise issues up to 1.30 in the morning I.e damaged floor boards banging and crashing unsupervised children just pretty much running back and forth constantly tv on at max volume, and this is every day. Now to add to the mix in this one bedroom flat above the grandparents have been there for 3 months and she’s had another baby, so as you can imagine the noise has increased 5 fold, We had an incident last week of the now 3 year old boy poking his head out of the window and spitting at us, The father throwing cigarettes out of the bathroom window(that hit my partner). We have actually come to the point that for my partner to get even a few hours sleep she’s having to put cotton wool in her ears and put on noise cancelling headphones, we’ve got the local council liaison involved as well as noise complaints and local. Councillors but it just seems like we’re hitting a brick wall, we’re coming close to just totally losing the plot it’s like Chinese water torture every day
Tonyr - 30-Jul-19 @ 11:03 AM
One thing that helped me when I had problems with noisy neighbours was investing in a sound generator, I think mine was about £50 from Amazon. It can subtly - or not so subtly - increase the level of background noise, and just makes my flat a more relaxed and comfortable place to be.I think it calms my neighbours down also.
Eddy - 4-Jul-19 @ 5:28 PM
Friend of my mother's is suffering from noisy neighbours. The above flat moved in last year and she's had problems with noise ever since. She's rang the police several times, and the usual happens, music turned down for a bit, then back up. Council have turned up to check the noise, in the middle of the afternoon of course, while they're partying til 3am on weekends.... Should say she's in her late 60s, he's in his early 20s, Any way to check noise levels and keep note of them, that the council will treat seriously?
Nalina - 1-Jul-19 @ 11:47 PM
What can I do with someone above us who starts making a noise clonking around with their shoes on with wooden floors above. Also starts cleaning floors and has washer on 8pm at night and sometimes has the TV blasting.
Jan - 16-Jun-19 @ 8:58 PM
We have lived below noisey neighbours espically the woman who is not the tenant for over two years we have been complaining to the housing association they just seem to flog you of and still we are having to put up with her and being a non tenant they dont go to bed til 1am 2am they dont work we do
Sa - 7-Jun-19 @ 9:22 PM
I've had my end of terrace house partially soundproofed and it was expensive.I was fed up of hearing impact noise, raised voices, etc, it seems like the party wall is not much thicker than cardboard.You can obtain a grant to insulate your property and make it more energy efficient.Why not a grant to make your flat or house more sound efficient. Everyone should have the right to enjoy peace and quiet in their home.
Bella - 4-May-19 @ 2:48 PM
Hi I need help I'm having noise problems I live in a flat on ground floor and above me is a single mom with a child and I told her 4 times about to stop the noise she bangs heavy footsteps goes threw my calling and it's bad and stomping thumping she did buy carpet to reduce noise but that hasn't worked still but she still does it and running with deep footsteps and her child to and effects my health and aniexty and her friend does it to and it happened sometimes at night after 11pm night time when I was trying to sleep but woken up by deep footsteps t doesn't happen everyday but it's close and it's bad and very disturbing please help so I can do something about it thank you
Lee - 5-Apr-19 @ 9:17 PM
I live in a converted flat with ceilings which might as well be made of cardboard, below a vile family of South Africans. The woman who is a divorcee, is "self employed" (read, unemployed) and spends every day sitting at home, waiting until evening and night time (when I'm in my flat) to play awful music, drop things, talk way louder than necessary, have her vile children over wander up and down and up and down non stop. I'm pretty aure she's mentally ill. My advice to anyone in a similar situation is move. You can't put a price on your sanity, and that is certainly what you forgo when you live like a prisoner in your own home constantly listening for noise.
Jamie - 31-Mar-19 @ 6:38 PM
Hi, My upstairs neighbor starts moving things around and stomping after 11pm every night. I've already sent an email to my building Management months ago and they told me they spoke to him and he said that he was just moving in and it wouldn't happen again.But it's still happening. And I happens different hours in the night. I've been woken up from 1:30 am to 4:30am. Idon't want to get a lawyer because they ran expensive and I cant afford it. And I also don't want to constantly complain to the management. What do I do?
Anonnomys - 26-Mar-19 @ 4:21 AM
Hello there I'm wondering if you could help me. I've got quite an unusual problem. I live in a flat above the shop which isn't the problem as such. However theyve been having problems with one of the fridges which is literally underneath my bed. Before you say anything I cannot move the bed anywhere else. The fans been broken for at least two months now and I can hear a very loud humming all night long. I reported that numerous times but they seem to either wait for the technician to come then for the parts to come and they don't give me any regular updates unless I message them. Is there any way I can report this? I have enough of sleepless nights, it got to this stage now that it effects my health and wellbeing. Please help
Carolina - 22-Mar-19 @ 11:49 PM
Can we start a partition as I have been suffering too it's not fair that new builds have to have soundproofing and old builds are left without
Skhan - 20-Mar-19 @ 7:17 PM
I also forgot to mention I have lived here since 2000 and it was quiet until that first couple moved in and its non stop they get up in the morning usual stomping banging etc til about 12:30ish then they go out for a couple of hours then by about 4:30ish til after 11:30pm it does not stop then they all go to bed 12:00am/1:am I just thought id throw that bit of info in too plus I don't sleep good at all the slightest noise wakes me ive tried ear plugs and headphones and it does not work and can I just say why should I have to live lie that im so grumpy/moody/irritable now I hardly even crack a smile anymore if I had the guts to end it all I would then id get friggin peace im at my wits end!!!
Libby - 12-Mar-19 @ 3:50 AM
I live in a rented council flat and above me it is a bought flat and the weasel of a landlord now rents it out, for the first 4yrs he rented it to a young couple with a young child and the first year of them being there was ok then he allowed them to pus wood flooring down thats when it all started I argued with those neighbours for yrs after that they tried to get me in trouble phoning the RSPCA on me saying I beat my dogs and never let them out which was totally unfounded then they constantly phoned the police saying I threatened them especially the mother which was lies then they got people round with other young kids and purposefully jumped around on the floor screaming and shouting!, While this was going on I was recording/writing times and dates went to police council phoned the landlord and went to my local MSP hardly anything was done at all and I felt I was in the wrong for banging up and shouting anyhoo they moved out about 4 months ago which I felt such relief I got a 2 week break then a man moved in with who I thought was his older son and it was quiet for another week and I was so happy! then a day or 2 after that BAM! I was woke up by a screaming baby and another toddler and it has made my life hell AGAIN! so I contacted the council and they will do nothing and have strongly advised me not to go to the door or shout up to tell them to be quiet this brat of theirs never goes to bed at a proper time and it bounces off the walls constantly ppl have said to me watch what you say as they are black and hardly speak English they may play the racist card but I don't care I know im not racist but if you live in this country you have to live by the laws I have anxiety/depression and a social phobia and the only time I leave my home is to take my dogs out apart from that I cannot get away from it so will someone please tell me why I don't have the right to tell them to stop that brat from constantly banging above my head I have a right to peace and quiet just like they have a right to live their life but not at the expense of my health and sanity it is ridiculous! and by the way I think the landlord is being spiteful because it was ppl he knew the first time round that moved out and all he has done this time is put a rug down in the hallway which has made no difference at all. Im from the uk and at the moment I hate my home and moving is not an option for me as I have no one friends or family to help and I cannot leave everything thats familiar to me as my anxiety would go through the roof not to mention the terror of being in a new place I don't like interacting with strangers at the best of times. so tell me why I am in the wrong for banging up when the noise gets eo much and they know why im doing it!
Libby - 12-Mar-19 @ 3:34 AM
Hi there and thank you for sharing your stories. I and my mother live in a very old flat and the noise there is above and below us. Above us, there is a family with two small children and I can hear every footstep when they're constantly running around the flat. I heard the noise first thing in the morning to the last thing at night. I have talked to the parents about it they have been rude or refused to do anything it. Below me is a severely autistic man who would scream when he's angry, bang the floor and shout randomly at night. I spoke to his care worker and he told me he will try to help calm him down but, I feel I can do much in that case. All this noise is getting to both me and my mother and we are trying to move out of here currently flat. We have the spoken to local council won't do anything about, as the noise is not that severe. Have sent a letter to my local MP who just send me back to the local council. I have spoken to the noise team who told me to kept the diary of all the noise but, it pointless and they're not doing anything with my diary entries. I feel like I am in between a rock and a hard place and I don't know what to do.
abeezer1 - 4-Mar-19 @ 10:45 AM
Hi there and thank you for sharing your stories. I and my mother live in a very old flat and the noise there is above and below us. Above us, there is a family with two small children and I can hear every footstep when they're constantly running around the flat. I heard the noise first thing in the morning to the last thing at night. I have talked to the parents about it they have been rude or refused to do anything it. Below me is a severely autistic man who would scream when he's angry, bang the floor and shout randomly at night. I spoke to his care worker and he told me he will try to help calm him down but, I feel I can do much in that case. All this noise is getting to both me and my mother and we are trying to move out of here currently flat. We have the spoken to local council won't do anything about, as the noise is not that severe. Have sent a letter to my local MP who just send me back to the local council. I have spoken to the noise team who told me to kept the diary of all the noise but, it pointless and they're not doing anything with my diary entries. I feel like I am in between a rock and a hard place and I don't know what to do.
abeezer1 - 3-Mar-19 @ 9:36 PM
THIS COUSIN AND HER FAMILY OF 4 stomp and drag on the wood floor too much noise
Avi - 23-Feb-19 @ 4:53 PM
To anyone suffering unbearable noise while trying to sleep at night consider buying a white noise machine. I recently bought one due to noise from neighbours stomping about upstairs, shouting, music, fighting etc and from noise in the communal hallway and I now sleep soundly at night it's vastly improved my quality of life, however, I still have to put up with unbearable noise at all other times but this has certainly helped me sleep well at night!
James - 10-Feb-19 @ 2:45 PM
I’ve been living in a 1st floor maisonette for 3 years. It’s a newly built flat and it has rubbish insulation. Our downstairs neighbours have hard floors throughout and every night they play with their dog with a hard ball. Every time they play with that ball they hit the wall with it, waking my little 3years old Toddler. The heavy footsteps and loud talking are existent too but not as disturbing. We could live with that. Every single night we have the same issue. We tried talking to them but no results. They don’t care. We can’t afford moving atm but as soon as we can we will move out. It’s affecting my sanity. I get anxious at the thought of coming home. I don’t know what to do. I’m so angry because of it.
Andy - 21-Jan-19 @ 8:06 PM
I live in the 1first floor and my upstairs is a family of 6 and they are aylsum seekers i have a problem with them for so long beause they non stop thumping, banging and shouting. i have contacted to police, their aylsum seeker company" Serco", envirment health team, city council, MP and even their landlord. i tried every thing i have and the finally is to either move or sue them or the landlord. The noise actually its like a torture and i couldn't sleep without music or something and lack of sleep and continusly unwell cause of the noise they make its really impacting my health. The funny thing is they deny all the complain i made and their company wont do a thing and none of the council doing anything. i even got all the neighbours to sign a petiton letter to proof the noise they still wont do anything. I actually feel so hopless in this situation and they have keep accusing me of being racist and threating to them but the thing is i didnt even go near them. they keep lieing and lieing to everyone and its very furstrating. i dont want to move because the flat am living in is my dream flat. What Can I DO?
Amy - 16-Jan-19 @ 9:30 PM
A petition should be started because this is a very serious and common issue affecting the mental health of hundreds of thousands (if not more) of people in the UK. I too suffer from noise from the flat above mine and being an old building - the poor sound insulation makes it even worse. I can also hear the people in the flat below mine - people shutting doors hard, heavy footsteps, objects being dropped, TV/Radio, loud voices etc. It's horrendous and a serious health issue.
ZK12015 - 18-Dec-18 @ 4:51 PM
Hello everyone and thak you for sharing your stories. Unfortunately we have had to deal with this situation as ground floor tenants several times and it does seem that you feel stuck and alone facing this issue which can clearly drive anyone crazy. It is mentaly unhealthy. Based on my experience, The best way is to get the landlords involved (if renting) but if they refuse to soundproof the flat, the next option is to contact the council then if that fails too the final option is to move. It is honestly unfair and very frustrating but in the end we feel that we have to save our sanity. We have done it in the past and we might have to do it again based on the new neibours who just moved upstairs. It is really hard not feeling at home in your own flat and being forced to live with somebody else's noise as if they were inside your own flat. If anyone has a miracle solution, I'm all ears but I do agree that there should bea law to protect tenants from noise nuisance or forcing landlords to soundproof a flat.
Fran - 12-Dec-18 @ 8:29 PM
I have lived in a first floor flat, which is a Council property, where the local council are the landlords. I first moved there back in early 2006, and, as nice and quiet as this area usually is; I started to notice an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime - it's a very long story, so fast forwarding to July 2017, the neighbours who lived above me were private tenants, who were generally very quiet and bearable to live below, that is until they moved out and then a young, professional couple moved in, and as the property upstairs is private, that clearly meant that they probably had different privileges and are able to make any changes to any of the rooms. On the day they moved in, I couldn't help but become aware of a lot of laughter and loud speech and much heavy thumping across the floor, then to get a knock on my door from the female tenant, introducing herself and asking if I could possibly swap external sheds, so her boyfriend could store his motorbike; this I had no problem with and was happy to oblige, although she came back, saying the shed wasn't big enough, so ever since then, the motorbike sits outside. I am not used to anyone living above me, so all the subsequent days, all the thumping about was a massive culture shock to me, and as they'd just moved in, I made those allowances for them to get settled in, rearrange their furniture etc. As each week approached, I noticed an increase in the noise, when they got home from work, they would come up the stairs, fairly loud voices, then their front door, and as they entered, sounded like the feet of two elephants, they would constantly stomp around their flat (no soundproofing unfortunately), and for some strange reason, he would stomp on the floor, so it would directly affect me and make me feel very uncomfortable; I would then hear their TV, which, I could only distinguish as a heavy, rumbling, almost computer-game sounding noise, which may be amplified with a Sound Bar. I would sometimes hear him shout and swear. This was a real worry for me now, as I dreaded that a nightmare was coming true, leaving me thinking about finding some way to move out. Almost a year ago now, it was a pleasantly quiet evening, as they seemed to be very quiet and I could only hear their TV at a low volume, so I felt more relaxed and at ease with this, until I went to bed, I heard it move quickly into his bedroom and started stomping up and down repetitively, and shouting, thus making me feel very angry and vulnerable, and as much as I was tempted to shout at him, I needed to consider my personal safety and "bite my lip," although I had emailed my local Council, where they had sent someone round the following day, and since then, this behaviour has never been repeated. It still carries on occasionally! I have had to raise a few complaints, to be told that they don't have Housing Wardens anymore, and that Police have no authority to make any arrests, so I was advised to download a 'No
Pauly - 1-Nov-18 @ 11:27 AM
There is a new gut that's moved in below me recently and as it stands at the moment whilst I write this I can hear his radio clearly over my tv and I have it at a reasonable level whereby I can hear it but it's not annoying others and I can't hear it. I don't want to go down to them as it's two guys and don't feel comfortable. So Ihave banged on the ceiling countless of times but to no avail. They have ignored me. The only other option is that I have emailed the landlord and asked them to speak to them. I am up for work early morning and want to relax when I get home from work is that so wrong ?
Shirls - 24-Oct-18 @ 9:16 PM
Soundproof underlays should be compulsory for any tenant above the ground floor. I live below a tenant with mental health problems who has no carpets - bare concrete floor and some hard flooring without underlay. She wakes up at 11pm every night and wakes me constantly throughout the night. I hear everything through the floor. Hundreds of knocks, bangs etc throughout the day. She drags furniture around and sweeps the concrete floor obsessively. The Housing Association have spoken to her but only after months of noise did they visit. They tried to turn the situation around and blame me for uspetting the tenant by knocking on her door at 4am after weeks of endless nocturnal noise. This was after I had put a polite note through the door and an amicable chat (which had minimal effect). They basically said tenants can have any kind of flooring they like, and make whatever noise they like, whenever, within their property. Technically this sounds reasonable. In reality, the tenant below is driven slowly mad. To then be blamed for someone else's unreasonable behaviour makes you feel utterly powerless. I was shocked at the sheer rudeness of the Housing Association. Twice I was told to try earplugs and patronised and lectured at. When I offered to show the HA the apparently upsetting note I posted the visitor refused to even look - I suspect because they know it was actually reasonable. This has really changed my opinion of social housing. I no longer respect HA staff, and am utterly shocked by how they refuse to ask tenants to fit cheap and simple soundproofing. The SNP in Scotland have looked at this. I know that in Edinburgh carpets and vinyl underlay are compulsory. Progressive thinking at last.
Quietlife - 19-Oct-18 @ 9:06 PM
I rent a first floor flat and the guy above me moved out a few weeks ago and a new single older guy has moved in. I never had any noise issues with the old tenant but this new guy is a nightmare neighbour. Constantly walks like a troll, always has an outside voice on the phone and to top it off, he suffers with tourettes. The wooden floors above me just amplify everything he does. His tics are a constant drone and driving me insane/stressing me out. He's only been here for 2 weeks and I already want to move. My lettings agent can't do much about it other than forward noise complaints to the landlord of upstairs. I don't want to approach him because he comes across very arrogant and inconsiderate. I also hate conflict. I've found some comfort in reading other peoples stories and knowing I'm not alone. The way things are going I'm probably just going to move for the sake of my own sanity and well-being. To anyone reading, you're not alone. All I can say is do all you can in a situation like this but don't be too proud to not throw in the towel and move because you'll only make yourself ill. Life is too short so choose to be happy.
Jonny - 18-Oct-18 @ 9:04 PM
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