City Noise Inevitable, Rules Court

Local authorities are obliged to offer suitable accommodation to homeless people, taking into account their particular circumstances and vulnerabilities. In one case, however, the Court of Appeal ruled that a council had fully met the duty it owed to a tenant who was chronically hypersensitive to noise.

The man suffered from anxiety and depression and had made a number of suicide attempts after being exposed to noise in his home environment. There was medical evidence that he had a specific need to live quietly and without disturbance. In a bid to meet that requirement, a London council had placed him temporarily in a top-floor flat, but he had continued to complain about noise levels which he found intolerable.

He challenged the council's decision that the flat was suitable for him within the meaning of the Housing Act 1996. However, in rejecting his appeal against an earlier decision that the council had acted appropriately towards him, the Court could detect nothing irrational in the council's stance. Noting that some noise was inevitable in an inner city setting, the Court found that the man could reasonably be expected to tolerate the ordinary domestic sounds emanating from his neighbours' flats and other sources.