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I have signed an assured short-hold tenancy agreement for a year in a London flat. The building has a main entrance and then 4 different flats.

My main question is whether it is normal that the landlord told me to pay him directly for the water as this is shared with the other flats. Note that it is not a joint tenancy or an HMO agreement. Every tenant rents on his own. Every flat pays a separate council tax.

Lately, I have some issues with the tenant above who loves banging all over the place and also uses the washing machine excessively. This is one of the reasons that triggered the question above. Also, considering that the house is a cheap construction (renovated) without a proper sound insulation as most parts are from wood, isn't there a way to complain regarding the decibels? Sometimes, I am getting 30 or 50 decibel sounds generated by machines or the tenant above. The recording was made using an iPhone which means that if I use a professional device, the decibels might be even more. Is there a way to complain about the constant noises and the fact that his washing machine wakes me up every morning at 8 or 9?

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  • Is the water metered? Is your water bill fixed regardless of usage? If it's not metered, then it's not going to cost extra if your neighbour uses lots of water. – Steve Melnikoff Jun 23 '20 at 16:20
  • @SteveMelnikoff There is no water meter in each flat. We just divide it and that costs me extra as the neighbour above uses the washing machine 2-3 times a day, even during the lockdown! – Datacrawler Jun 24 '20 at 12:31
  • Sorry, what I mean is: is there a single water meter for the whole property? Also, is paying the water bill to the landlord in the tenancy agreement? If not, it may not be enforceable. – Steve Melnikoff Jun 24 '20 at 12:42
  • @SteveMelnikoff It is a single water meter for the whole property. We pay directly to the landlord and there is no tenancy agreement upon this payment. The agreement says that the responsibility of the bills (electricity, water, internet) is the tenant's responsibility. But in person, the landlord told me that she would ask us to pay an amount every 6 months. – Datacrawler Jun 24 '20 at 17:56
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You're asking two questions and I think a mod will be along to ask you to focus on one.

Re water bills: in my experience each dwelling had its own water bill. Perhaps anonymously or pseudonymously call your water authority to check with them.

As for noise: in the first instance raise it with your neighbour; if it continues raise it with your landlord; if nothing is done raise it with your local council.

https://www.gov.uk/how-to-resolve-neighbour-disputes

From now, keep some kind of record, log or diary of the noise nuisance and your efforts to sort it out including communications with the neighbour, landlord and council. E.g.

23 June 2020, 10pm, upstairs washing machine on for the tenth time today, very noisy, spoke with neighbour who told me to f off.

From a practical and enjoyment of life point of view as opposed to the theoretical exercise of one's legal rights and discussion of civil torts, consider moving as soon possible if the neighbour or landlord aren't cooperative.

Consider contacting Shelter for competent free guidance about noise.

In terms of being woken up at 8am or 9am by the washing machine, if you are not doing shift work or night work I don't think you'll get much sympathy. This is a fairly normal time to do washing and unlikely in itself to be considered a nuisance or anti-social behaviour.

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It appears that this is legal. It counts as water resale, and for the case where none of the flats have their own individual meters, the bill can be split in an number of ways. Splitting it equally is, according to the rules, perfectly valid.

If any dispute with the landlord over the bill cannot be resolved by mutual agreement, it is possible, as a last resort, to take the matter to the Small Claims Court.

However, there is one possible anomaly in the situation as described, where the landlord asks for payment towards the bill every 6 months but this isn't mentioned in the tenancy agreement.

Schedule 1, paragraph 9 (1) of the Tenant Fees Act 2019 states:

A payment for or in connection with the provision of a utility is a permitted payment if the tenancy agreement requires the payment to be made.

So if this arrangement (specifically, paying the landlord for water) is not mentioned in the tenancy agreement, it may well be unenforceable, and the landlord could be fined for requesting payment in this way. However, you should seek professional advice before taking any action relating to this.

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