What to do in the event of noise pollution in a building?

8 january 2021 - " I own a flat that I have been renting to tenants for the past few months. Unfortunately, my tenants frequently argue, disturbing the peace and quietness of the other residents of the building. Neighbours have tried to establish a dialogue but without success. What can I do? ". Maître Christelle Andersen, CGI Conseils lawyer, answers to Anthony F, Geneva.

What to do in the event of noise pollution in a building?

According to the law, the tenant is obliged to use the property with all necessary care and to show due consideration for the other residents of the building. He must therefore respect his duty of care. It is generally accepted that the Tenant must not damage the premises or facilities, nor alter them without the consent of the Landlord, nor reduce their value through misuse. He must also behave correctly towards his neighbours and respect the peace and quiet of the building.

Consequently, the fact of causing noise pollution corresponds to a breach by the Tenant of his obligations. The same will apply if it generates nauseating odours, if he behaves in a manner contrary to morality or insults his neighbours, for example.

However, a certain margin of tolerance must be allowed. This margin will depend in particular on the circumstances (a particular event has occurred in the tenant's life such as, for example, the presence of a newborn baby who does not sleep through the night), the destination of the premises (residential or commercial premises) or the environment (old building less well insulated, noisy neighbourhood, etc.). The presence of nuisances must also be assessed objectively and not according to the increased sensitivity of a neighbour. Therefore, if several neighbours complain about the same nuisance, this is an argument in favour of the existence of such nuisance.

In this case and according to your indications, it seems that your tenants are violating their duty of care since shouts are heard at all hours of the day or night, furniture is moved, objects are broken or very loud music is heard. The peace and quiet of the neighbours is thus not respected. Therefore, you have the option of cancelling the lease early.

If a tenant breaches his duty of care in a sufficiently serious manner, making the continuation of the lease unbearable for the lessor or the other inhabitants of the building, the lessor may, under certain conditions, terminate the lease early.

He must first send a written warning to the tenants, explaining the situation and detailing the facts for which they are responsible. This should be done by registered mail. This formal notice must be given shortly after the nuisance has occurred and the tenants must be given a period of time in which to remedy the nuisance. In the case of noise nuisances, it is possible to demand that they cease immediately. The letter must also inform the tenants that if the disturbance continues, the lease agreement will be terminated early.

If, after the expiry of the period granted and if the nuisance continues despite the written warning, the tenants' rental agreement may be terminated early, subject to thirty days' notice at the end of one month. Notice must also be given by means of an official form for terminating the lease.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the nuisances suffered at the time of termination must be the same as those for which the tenants were reproached in the letter of formal notice.

If the above-mentioned conditions are not fulfilled, the termination will be void. As a precaution, I therefore recommend that you also notify your tenants of the termination of the ordinary lease. For any further information, CGI Conseils is at your disposal.

by Christelle ANDERSEN, Lawyer CGI Conseils

For any further information, CGI Conseils is at your disposal in the morning from 8:30 am to 11:30 am by phone 022 715 02 10 or by appointment.