Homefront: 'Can I stop a restaurant polluting my apartment with noise and smells?'

The Dubai resident says the issue started in January when the dining outlet rebuilt its exhaust

Jumeirah Lakes Towers will be the first area in the UAE to get 5G. Sarah Dea / The National
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I have been peacefully residing in a Dubai building for the last eight years. Then in January, a new restaurant in the building rebuilt their chimney/exhaust. This is the type that extends all the way to the top of the building. Since then, the noise level has increased so much that I can hear it inside my apartment even when the windows are closed. There is a constant loud buzzing sound from the chimney and a nasty smell of food in the apartment. Moreover, the restaurant operates 20 hours a day, from 7am-3am - the longest time any restaurant is open in the area. I have spoken with the owner on numerous occasions and made three complaints to Dubai Municipality since February 2019. However, in spite of my efforts the problem has not been resolved. 

It is evident the restaurant has used poor quality materials to build the exhaust and has not taken the necessary steps to ensure the noise is reduced. The area has numerous restaurants but I cannot hear a noise issue anywhere else. This has now become a nuisance as there is no peace in the apartment at any time of the day. I am now being compelled to look for another apartment, a process that will incur moving costs. Can I do anything to restore peace in the apartment? GB, Dubai

Noise pollution is always a difficult issue to resolve especially if the source is from a mechanical or electrical device such as a fan or exhaust at a commercial premise. Businesses need to operate but also they need to function within the spirit of the community.

It appears you have already explored several options, however, I would not stop complaining to the Dubai Municipality or to the owner of the business. This may spur them into action or at least get them to agree to some form of remedy. I also recommend enlisting the help of the building management or the restaurant's landlord, as they would be responsible for granting the lease to the business in the first place. It would appear to be unfair if the landlord is going to favour one tenant over another by not taking action to remedy your quality of life by doing nothing.

Suggest to them if they are not prepared to find a solution, you will be requesting some sort of compensation from them. I realise this would not necessarily remedy the actual problem but if they are faced with financial losses, they may get into gear and try to do something to help.

The ultimate sacrifice would obviously be to vacate the property because if nothing can be done you would have no alternative but to seek another accommodation. The good news is that as the rental market is currently going through a softer phase (in terms of prices), you will undoubtedly find another unit to move to and at a great price too.

Mario Volpi is the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers. He has worked in the property sector for 35 years in London and Dubai

The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@engelvoelkers.com