Q: I rent a house in the middle of a three-home terrace. One of my neighbours is fine, but the other has recently had some renovation works done and they’ve moved their kitchen appliances to back onto our living room. They have a washer and dryer going all hours of the night and it is causing huge noise, stopping us from getting a full night’s sleep. There is also cracking plaster, which is very worrying. I have said this to our landlord, who said he will look into it. There was no planning permission notice or similar. This is causing me and my family huge stress.
Walls shared with a neighbour are sometimes referred to as ‘party walls’. Under the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009, the owners of a party wall are entitled to carry out works (which can include simple decoration or alteration) to a party wall if it “will not cause substantial damage or inconvenience to the adjoining owner”.
If damage is caused to a property, the building owner may claim reimbursement for the costs and expenses of making good such damage, or for compensation for inconvenience.
In your case, the owner of the adjoining building might be compelled to pay for appropriate sound protection on the shared walls, as well as the cost of replastering and making good your side of the wall.
If there is a failure to pay the same, the building owner (your landlord) may recover the same through the courts.
These are all steps that fall to your landlord – but your lease will generally include provisions to ensure that you have ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the premises.
You are also entitled to take an application to the District Court for a noise complaint. You can do this without recourse to your landlord. The precise nature of the application would depend on whether your neighbour owns the property or is renting. Of course, this cannot compel the other neighbour to carry out the necessary repairs.
If the works to the property were entirely internal, then it is likely that planning permission was not required.
Your solicitor will be able to fully advise you of the appropriate steps to take. You should try and engage with your landlord to ensure that all necessary steps are taken. Generally, these issues are best resolved by agreement between all parties, (i.e. you, your landlord, your neighbour, etc.) with recourse to the courts as a regrettable last resort.
However, you do need to take steps and should consult with your solicitor without delay.