As construction activity grows, especially for residential properties (houses, apartments), quiet enjoyment in cohabitation becomes more important.
Regrettably, there are no building regulations regarding noise, such as double insulated dividing walls between the units, similarly for floor insulation and double/triple glazing, which help increase the quiet enjoyment of residents or neighbours.
In hot climates, such as ours, where residents often use outside areas (verandas, gardens) to spend 60% of their time, this subject becomes more important.
“Every time that my upstairs neighbour moves his furniture, he creates nuisance for us, whereas the family’s teenage children with their loud music, we came to know just about all the recordings from start to end,” is a common complaint.
Homes are not properly insulated, allowing noise to travel to the extent where a person can hear the conversations taking place in the neighbour’s home.
In addition to the shortfalls of the lack of proper regulations, there is also a lack of respect regarding keeping noise at low levels.
Especially when parties are hosted, be it that on some occasions, “proper” neighbours tend to inform of an upcoming event, albeit a rarity.
A most provocative issue is the use of garages for car repair, paintwork, woodwork, etc.
Apart from being illegal, contrary to building regulations, it downgrades the neighbours’ properties, both in appearance and value.
A client has appointed our firm to estimate his property’s rental/capital value loss due to the neighbour’s ‘industrial’ activities.
This is a serious case headed to the courts and will take time and money, in addition to the animosity which will come about as a result.
Regrettably, the whole situation becomes worse since no specific regulations stipulate a time frame for noise, complaints to the local authority regarding such matters are left unanswered, and the police tell you to “forget it”.
So, there is anarchy caused by the lack of respect for neighbours and the lack of applying building regulations.
One of our projects at Platres, a Latvian resident acting responsibly, asked us what to do since he will prepare a BBQ for guests and was worried the smoke might bother the upstairs neighbour.
We replied that he should let the neighbour know of his party and keep the gathering within reasonable hours (say until 11 pm).
Inviting the neighbour would not go amiss or send a plate of food or a bottle of wine.
We added that Cyprus has many donkeys on two legs, and should the neighbour be difficult, ignore them.
The Latvian family was happy with our suggestion but did not understand the phrase “two-legged donkeys”.
In other countries with sensitivity to peaceful cohabitation, there are many restrictions, including the hours of mowing one’s lawn, as is the case in Switzerland.
With the lack of proper education and our attitude on the island of “who cares”, there seems to be a suspicion amongst residents that the administrative committee is “robbing” them of the common expenses.
In constantly asking for audited accounts (but not willing to pay), some arguments seem to come up all the time.
“I live on the ground floor, so why should I pay for the elevator cost.”
“I know that the roof belongs to me, but should its maintenance not form part of the common expenses?”
Short lets through Airbnb is a source of serious trouble in the making, as young people and visiting, tourists mainly create the noise.
Common expense items should be reduced to a minimum because of the wrong attitude and non-payment of the common expenses.
So, the new trend of having a rooftop swimming pool, nice as it sounds and looks in the brochure, is a problem of huge dimension.
In addition to possible structural problems, you have the nuisance that creates arguments, such as “I do not use the pool, so why should I pay”.
Bearing in mind that common swimming pools require a changing room, WCs, lifeguard, etc., you can appreciate the rising cost; hence, most pools are now closed.
Huge confusion exists whether pools in complexes are considered public or private, notwithstanding the EU regulations.
In one of our recent projects, we placed a TV plug on the verandas, but being who we are, gathering around the TV created a nuisance to the neighbours; thus, we have removed the plugs.
Regrettably, the term “quiet enjoyment” is not understood (mainly by locals), and it will take years to be part of a cohabitation understanding.