Sacro Edinburgh Community Mediation

Edinburgh Community Mediation Service helps neighbours deal with a whole range of issues. Here in the city, noise is a major difficulty for many members of the public who approach our service.

Background to conflict

Archie is the landlord of a privately rented tenement flat. He now lives and works in London and rents out his flat to a young professional couple – Jane and Michael. The rent barely covers Archie’s mortgage. James owns the flat below Archie’s and is being “driven mad” by the noise of Jane and Michael “stomping” about their home, furniture being moved and strange noises that James is convinced are Jane and Michael rolling a ball about their living room and banging loudly to annoy him. He feels they are retaliating to his complaints about the noise.

Jane and Michael claim they are living normal lives in their home. They do not have wild parties or play loud music. They are fed up of constantly being contacted by their landlord to “tone down the noise” and the “dirty looks” James gives them in the landing. They are considering moving out of the property. Archie is annoyed as he cannot afford to lose his good tenants and doesn’t have the time to deal with James’ complaints. James just wants the noise to stop. Before Archie moved to London, he renovated his flat to make it more attractive to tenants. As part of this renovation he put down laminate flooring throughout and ceramic tiles in the kitchen and bathroom.

Case Progression

Mediation generally looks to involve all parties living in a household, rather than landlords. Landlords are generally responsible for the building and ultimately for their tenants but where disputes are around “lifestyle” issues- it is best to involve the people living in the household as they have the biggest power to make a change to the situation. A mediation meeting was therefore arranged between James, Jane and Michael who were all keen to get together and talk about the situation.

Mediation Meetings & Outcomes

The meeting between James, Jane and Michael essentially focussed on noise and the deliberate aspect that James was feeling. James was able to discover during the meeting that the floor coverings had been changed shortly before Jane and Michael had moved in. James had not realised this as he had been on holiday when the work had been carried out. This came as a surprise to James and helped him appreciate that a good part of the noise he was experiencing could have been down to floor coverings.

A full and frank discussion was had. James explained the level of disturbance he was experiencing. Jane and Michael were horrified to learn that James could hear so much. Taking time to describe situations in full detail helped the parts to work out together than the “rolling ball” Michael was hearing was actually a computer chair on wheels being pushed back. The “deliberate banging” was a television remote falling onto the floor. Both parties were able to appreciate together than the biggest source of the noise was the flooring in the property. By this time, James, Jane and Michael had broken down barriers and were able to work together to decide how this may be tackled. Jane and Michael did not have authority to change floor coverings so it was decided that a further meeting would be held between James and Archie to take this further with the backing of Jane and Michael.

James and Archie met and discussed what had happened during the meeting with Jane and Michael. Although Archie was concerned to hear that the change in floor coverings seemed to be the main source of the noise, financially he did not feel able to change the situation. Archie was able to see that he might lose his tenants or face complaints about future tenants. James was able to appreciate that it may not matter who was in the flat- the problem may not go away. By focussing on how the future would look in the way, James made a suggestion that Archie consider buying rugs for the laminated areas of flooring and that if Archie were willing to consider changing the ceramic tiles to lino in the kitchen and bathroom. This suggestion was accepted by Archie.

Outcomes

  • A written agreement was made between James and Archie about replacing the floor coverings and how this would be paid for.
  • Floor coverings were replaced and following a review of the situation three months later, the situation has vastly improved and everyone reports being happier about the situation.