Victory for millionaire couple who sued neighbour over their noisy wooden floor: Businessman and his wife are awarded £16k after judge ruled City banker’s family upstairs left them suffering ‘unbearable’ noise in their £1m Kensington flat
A high-flying couple have won a millionaires’ legal fight after a judge agreed that the noise of their banker neighbour’s young family on the wooden floor upstairs was ‘unbearable’.
Businessman Sergey Grazhdankin, 42, and his wife, Maria, claimed their lives in a gated art deco development in West Kensington, London, became ‘torture’ after new neighbours moved into the £1.1million apartment above them and ripped up the carpets.
Mr Grazhdankin, who runs an insurance services company, sued his neighbours, City banker Medhi Guissi and his wife Meriem El Harouchi, over the ‘nuisance’ caused by noise from the wooden floors.
Yesterday, Judge Tracey Bloom handed victory to Mr Grazhdankin, finding that the noise they suffered after their neighbours tore up the old carpets was ‘unbearable’ and kept them awake at night.
The decision leaves upstairs neighbours Mr Guissi and Mrs El Harouchi having to fork out £16,087 in compensation, as well as paying a substantial portion of the £250,000 lawyers’ bills for the case.
Sergey Grazhdankin and his wife Maria (both pictured) claimed they’d been ‘tortured’ by the noise of Mehdi Guissi’s family and their creaking floorboards above
Mehdi Guissi (pictured) claimed that his neighbours cannot complain about the normal everyday sounds of a family in their own home. But a judge ruled against him yesterday, leaving him with a hefty compensation and legal bill
Mr and Mrs Grazhdankin they have since been subjected to a constant assault of noise – including children playing and crying, creaking joists, footsteps and noisy conversations from the flat above in Kensington (pictured)
The couple said they were subjected to a constant assault of noise through the new wooden floors upstairs – including children playing and crying, creaking joists, footsteps and noisy conversations.
‘During the week, we are woken up daily between 5.30am and 7.30am by the noise’, Mr Grazhdankin said, adding: ‘On weekends we are woken up between 7am and 8am by walking, banging, jumping sounds, children running and voices’.
They had previously enjoyed peace and quiet in their £1million-plus three-bed apartment, but the installation of the wooden floors had shattered that and left them feeling as though they were in a flatshare, they said.
The Grazhdankins had been ‘clearly distressed’ by the noise, which was the result of sound restricting flooring being incorrectly installed, meaning it was as much use as a ‘piece of plywood’ laid across the floorboards, the judge said yesterday.
Central London County Court heard Mr Grazhdankin and marketing manager Mrs Grazhdankin moved into their fourth floor flat in 2011, before their neighbours bought the apartment upstairs for £1.1million in 2018.
Previously, the Grazhdankins had an elderly lady living above them and told the court that they very rarely heard noise from upstairs, other than the occasional banging of a door.
But after Mr Guissi and his wife bought the property, they began a major refurbishment of the flat, tearing out walls, changing the layout of the rooms and replacing the floor.
In place of the carpeted floor which the former owner had, they installed a wooden floor, with a floating acoustic barrier in an attempt to alleviate any noise.
However, the Grazhdankins complained that the acoustic floor was fitted incorrectly, with screws being driven through it and into the joists, against the specific instructions of the manufacturers.
Mr Grazhdankin and his wife, who is a marketing manager, moved into their fourth floor flat in North End House (pictured) in 2011. Their neighbours bought the apartment upstairs for £1.1million in 2018
Mr Grazhdankin, who runs an insurance services company, sued in a case which has run up around £250,000 in lawyers’ bills (pictured: inside the above flat)
The ‘incorrect’ installation of the floor resulted in creaking and the constant passage of impact and airborne sound from above, they said.
In a statement written at the time and put before the court, Mr Grazhdankin said that, after a year living in Germany, he and his family had moved back into the flat in August 2020.
Once back in the apartment, he and his wife had found the noise ‘unbearable,’ he said, with the change of layout above so that living areas are above bedrooms making things worse.
‘During the week, we are woken up daily between 5.30am and 7.30am by the noise from above and we can hear floor making creaking sounds, walking sounds and the sound of moving furniture right above our main bedroom,’ he said.
‘On weekends we are woken up between 7am and 8am by walking, banging, jumping sounds, children running and voices.
‘During the day, throughout the whole week, there is a lot of noise of similar nature, being creaking floor, walking, dropping things on the floor, moving objects on the floor, children crying, shouting and voices.
‘This is experienced especially between 2pm and 10pm.
‘Overall, living in our apartment feels like living in a shared apartment with another family. It is impossible to have our peace and live in our own rhythm.’
‘Living with this every day since we moved is torture,’ he added from the witness box.
His wife said the only time they are free from the noise above is after Mr Guissi and his family go to bed, which can be after 10pm at night, making the Grazhdankins dependent on their neighbours’ daily schedule.
‘We live with our neighbours in the most direct way of speech as we are always disturbed by the sounds of their daily life in their apartment,’ she said in a statement.
‘We are automatically able to tell not only if they’re at home but also who exactly of the family is at home, which room they’re in and sometimes what kind of activity they are engaged in.
‘It feels depressing because I do not have a feeling of privacy, peace and quiet in my own home.’
Mr Guissi and Mrs El Harouchi eventually had carpets fitted in most areas of their flat, but Mr Grazhdankin pressed ahead with the ‘nuisance’ claim against them.
Defending them in court, their barrister Tom Morris said that what the Grazhdankins complained about is the sound made by acts of ‘ordinary residential occupation’ of a family home.
The acts ‘are not done maliciously or with the intention of disturbing the claimant, but reasonably and with proper consideration for the interests of the claimant,’ he said.
Ruling in Mr Grazhdankin’s favour, Judge Bloom said the couple had been ‘plainly distressed’ by the noise from above, even the reduced sound which they experience now after the carpet was laid.
‘Having listened to the parties and read the documents, it is clear that as time has passed the positions of the two neighbours has got more entrenched,’ she said in her judgment.
‘I found that both sides were seeking to tell me the truth, albeit their versions of the truth are moulded by their own situations and respective sense of injustice.
‘I have no reason to doubt the experience of Mr Grazhdankin and his wife that the noise has been unbearable for them.
‘I am quite satisfied and accept all of the experts’ evidence that the floor was put in incorrectly.
‘The effect was that the layer that should have provided an acoustic barrier was squashed and the effectiveness of the floor was in effect nullified.
‘It was no better than a piece of plywood across the floor.’
He concluded: ‘I conclude that there was noise nuisance from 2019 when the works completed until the carpet was laid.’
He said Mr Grazhdankin is entitled to damages for four months in 2020 and five months in 2021, the periods when their neighbours were in the UK and not stranded abroad due to Covid restrictions.
He awarded Mr Grazhdankin £16,087.50 in damages for those periods, but said the noise they experience now does not amount to ‘actionable nuisance.’
He rejected nuisance and breach of covenant claims which they had additionally brought against the freeholder of the building, North End House Ltd.
The case will return to court at a later date to decide what portion of the lawyers’ bills for the case the parties will have to pay.
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