It’s 2022 and safe to say, we’ve seen some things. From presidential candidates that seem both unfit and unqualified for the job, to TikTok trends that go against all logic and better judgment, it seems we’re living in times that make Stranger Things appear mundane and, well, ordinary. But just when we thought we’d heard it all, a story landed across our desks that seemed so outrageous, so ludicrous and preposterous, we almost didn’t think it was real. But it was. The story in question? A court case filed by a couple that complained their neighbours’ toilet was too loud after they were flushing it late at night.
Ok, let’s be clear: when you’ve got a big day coming up and need those precious hours of shut-eye, few things are quite as annoying as a flatmate getting up to use the bathroom that’s within ear-shot of your bedroom, only to flush the toilet loudly. You might think a flush is better than no flush, but there’s a point at which the gargle of the toilet drain is unbearable and only serves to disrupt anyone who is trying to sleep.
For one Italian couple though, the sound was all too much. According to reports from The Guardian, the couple in a flat complained that they couldn’t get a good night’s sleep after their neighbours – four brothers – installed a new bathroom. A local judge dismissed their complaints, but it didn’t stop the couple from seeking further guidance and so they took the case to the court of appeal in Genoa which subsequently launched an investigation.
The investigation found that the new bathroom was directly adjacent and that the water closet was actually built into the party wall – so the couple weren’t all that misguided in their grievances, it appears. But while you might think a simple slap on the wrist might be enough to conclude such a matter, the investigation found that this amounted to a violation of the couple’s rights, protected not just by the Italian constitution but also by the European convention on human rights (ECHR).
The judge ordered the brothers to move the water tank and to pay the couple a staggering 500 euros a year from the date upon which it was first installed in 2003. When the brothers then decided to take the case to the supreme court in Rome, it was ruled that the sound of flushing coming through the wall exceeded the legal limit by three decibels. The supreme court ruled that infringing on the right to rest had consequences for the constitutionally protected right to help.
So, perhaps there is some kind of vindication for those who suffer the turmoil of being woken from their slumber by the sound of an antisocial flatmate or neighbour flushing the toilet. Still, it’s got to be one of the strangest court rulings we’ve heard of. From now on, we’ll be flushing lightly – and keeping it to daylight hours, too.