sound insulation tower block

Refurbishment at residential apartment

In the recent decision (spring of 2020) of the Supreme Court in Duval v 11-13 Randolph Crescent Ltd [2020] UKSC 18, the Court confirmed that a landlord did not have the power to permit a tenant to act in breach of an absolute covenant. There can be little doubt of its significance for landlords of blocks of flats and flat owners alike.

The Supreme Court’s decision declares the law as it always was.  The limitation period for a breach of covenant is 12 years. Therefore, tenants in an apartment block may challenge the grant of a licence or permissions given, or concessions made to their neighbours a number of years ago. Though the potential damages available are likely in most cases to be minimal, the nuisance value of these claims alone may become a serious headache for landlords and managing agents in the future.

As such, when the new leasehold owners of a residential apartment in London wished to undertake extensive refurbishment works, they had to show compliance with the freeholder’s condition. The condition stated that sound insulation tests must be undertaken before and after the works in order to ensure that the existing sound insulation performance of the separating walls and floors is not degraded.

Finch Consulting undertook the pre and post airborne and impact sound insulation tests at the premises and provided technical assistance with the acoustic design of the proposals. The post-completion testing showed that the sound insulation performance of the separating partitions was increased, and the freeholder was happy to sign off the license for the works with the agreement of all leaseholders in the apartment block.