Last updated: January 15, 2021 at 11:36 am
Not completely. There is no general legislation that states it is illegal to have wood flooring in an upstairs flat. However, there are other avenues you can explore if you’re experiencing this problem.
In this article, we will discuss the legalities of wooden flooring in an upstairs flat and what you can do about excessive impact noise.
Is It Illegal To Have A Wood Floor?
Firstly, if the flat is in a converted building you should check the planning application to confirm if soundproofing was a requirement of permission being granted. If it was and it has not been done, then you can contact the planning office and make a complaint. You may even find that planning was never granted for the conversion. Either way, the planning office will be able to act.
If your upstairs neighbours rent their property and have recently fitted wood flooring then you can contact their landlord. Many home leases have a covenant banning the use of wood flooring in the property. Most landlords don’t want disputes so they can put pressure on their tenants. If you’ve asked for them to put down rugs or take off their shoes then a warning from their landlord may have the desired effect. If it was fitted by the landlord themselves they may be prepared to discuss carpeting or soundproofing.
What Can You Do About Wooden Floors Above?
Talk To Your Neighbours
Before taking any other action try popping upstairs for a friendly chat with your neighbours. They may be completely unaware of how bad the noise is for you. If they are happy to discuss it, then you could invite them downstairs while someone moves around or speaks upstairs so they can understand how big an issue it is. If you work together a solution can usually be found. It might be laying heavy rugs, having certain rooms carpeted or even installing a soundproof layer under the floor.
If none of the above things works, the next step is to go to the environmental health department of your local council. Be warned though that this is likely to be a lengthy process. If you raise a complaint about noise the council is obliged to investigate and decide if it constitutes a statutory nuisance.
To be investigated as a “statutory nuisance” it must:
unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
or injure health or be likely to injure health
If they agree that a statutory nuisance is happening or will happen in the future, councils must serve an abatement notice. This requires whoever’s responsible to stop or restrict the noise.
What Noise Levels Are Considered Excessive?
The council will use recording equipment inside your home. For it to be considered excessive during the day the site does not have a definite decibel range listed. For noise at night these are the levels stated on the government’s website.
The council might also request that you keep a diary of the dates and times of noise issues. Once all this is done if you’ve met the conditions for a statutory nuisance then an abatement order will be issued. If the noise is being caused by wood floors the order may require carpets and/or soundproofing are installed.
What If They Still Keep Making Noise?
If the residents continue to make noise and don’t take steps to prevent it then the council has a couple of options. They can:
- give a fixed penalty notice (FPN) giving them the chance to pay a fine (up to £110 for dwellings and £500 for licensed premises) within 14 days, instead of being prosecuted
- prosecute them if they don’t issue an FPN or if the person responsible doesn’t pay the fine on time (if convicted they can get a fine of up to £1,000 for a household and an unlimited amount for business premises)
If the noise still doesn’t decrease then the council can take further action if it can be seen as anti-social behaviour. These powers include civil injunctions and evictions.
Can I Take Them To Court Myself?
You can but you will have to decide if it’s worth the time, cost and stress that it would take. Courts can only make rulings based on facts so you’ll need to keep a thorough journal describing events. This would cover things like what date and time the noise began, the source of the noise and how long it went on for. Video could also be a good idea.
You should also log all attempts to deal with the situation yourself. Make a note of the dates and times you spoke to the neighbour and what was said. If they’re tenants and you’ve spoken to the landlord you should log this too. It’s also wise to send a letter via recorded delivery so you have proof of receipt. I know that seems crazy as they live upstairs but remember, court cases are about what you can prove not what’s actually happening.
In addition to collecting evidence, you should consider the legal cost. Unless you’re taking them to small claims court you’ll need a solicitor. This bill can be thousands of pounds depending on how long the case goes on for.
It’s not illegal to have a wooden floor in the UK even in an upstairs flat. If your life is being negatively affected by noise however, there are steps you can take.
You must make the choice whether time, effort, and cost are worth it or if moving house (in extreme cases) is your best option.