Noisy neighbours must pay banker €112k in compensation because their floors had no carpet, judge rules
The noisy neighbours of a banker must pay her £100,000 (€112,217) in compensation because their floors had no carpet, a judge has ruled.
Sarah and Ahmed El Kerrami were sued by Sarvenaz Fouladi (38) who lived in a luxury £2.6 million (€2.9m) flat on the floor below because of the "intolerable" noise of their young family on the wooden floors above.
The sound of everyday activity - from children playing to dishes being washed - ruins her peace during the day and keeps her up at night, she said.
Miss Fouladi, who lives with her mother at the flat in Kensington, London, said the neighbours' children treat their flat like a "playground", running around at all hours.
Judge Nicholas Parfitt said it was the noise of simple "day-to-day living" which had caused the problems in the mansion block, off High Street Kensington.
He said that the El Kerramis and their family company which owns the flat should have put carpets on the wooden floors in living areas, he said.
When the floor was replaced before they moved in, nothing had been done to limit noise transmission between the flats, the judge said.
During the case, the banker told the court she had lived happily in St Mary Abbots Court - a 1920s block with 24-hour porters - for years without noise from above.
It was only when work was done before the El Kerramis arrival in 2010 that her life and that of her mother, Fereshant Salamat, began to suffer.
Sounds from the boiler, a fridge, taps and the fireplace above began to disturb her sleep at night and relaxation during the day.
The mother and daughter kept a diary, noting down noises they objected to, including the sounds of dishes being washed, kids' voices and "angry breathing". The children ran around for hours on end, dropping toys and making a racket, she said in her evidence.
"They used it like a playground, kids running and dropping things for seven hours non-stop," she told the judge.
"Before the flat was renovated and all the walls were demolished and the floors were taken out, there was no noise heard from the flat above ours."
Miss Fouladi, who is single, was accused by her neighbours' barrister, Gordon Wignall, of being "hypersensitive" to the activity of a normal family.
The sounds of the kids playing upstairs were simply "ordinary domestic child noises from time to time", he told the court.
He told Central London County Court: "I am satisfied that, but for the new floor being as it is, the noise disturbance that I have referred to as present would not have been so."
Miss Fouladi claimed against the couple and an offshore company, which was described by Mr El Kerrami as a "family asset holding vehicle", which owns the flat.
She claimed the lease on their flat was breached in that changes to the flooring had not been authorised and much of it was not carpeted. And she said the company and the El Kerramis had caused her "nuisance" by allowing their day-to-day noise to affect her property.
Giving judgment, Judge Parfitt rejected any suggestion that the El Kerramis had created noise deliberately to annoy Miss Fouladi and he said the noise diary kept by Miss Fouladi and her mother was "exaggerated" in places. But he said the noise had been a "real interference" with Miss Faloudi's life at home.
The judge said the lease was breached by the installation of new floors in the El Kerramis' flat without authorisation and by the failure to use carpets in living areas. He accepted Miss Fouladi's claim that the El Kerramis and the company had caused her noise "nuisance".
He issued an injunction, ordering the company to do work on the floors in the flat to significantly reduce noise levels. And he ordered that Miss Fouladi be paid compensation of £107,397.37, rising by £40-a-day until the work is done.
Claims of nuisance and breach of contract made against the freeholder of the block, St Mary Abbots Court Limited, were rejected by the judge.