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Stuart J
Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22403
Experience:  PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street Practice
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Refuse issues. Unfair accusations.

Customer Question

I need an answer before 10am GMT Monday.


 


For the past 17 years I lived in a flat. The block has a communal rubbish bin shed with wheelie bins. Rubbish is collected every Wednesday. There were complains (from me too) that the shed was filthy due to bags falling on the floor and local cats and rodents opening them. My opinion was that there are not enough bins; others complained that people were throwing their bags on the shed floor. Fact is, most people piled their bags on the bins and some fell. I also witnessed people throwing their bags on top of the pile and thus knocking off other bags. It’s a mess.


 


In all this I tried to at least be within the rules myself. I produce one or two bags per week, mostly paper and packaging as I have a disposal unit, and my cleaner disposes them on Thursdays when the bins are not full and ensure they are INSIDE the bin.


 


The only exception was when a friend, who is often on the road, asked me if I could receive a package for him containing a laptop. I did and he opened the package at my place and we put the packaging in a black bad and he offered to throw it away. That was late on Friday 1 February.


 


On Saturday 23 February I received a letter from the block managers with two photos – one with rubbish on the floor (definitely not mine) – and one of a payment notice addressed to “Chris” (that my friend, my name is George) from the aforementioned package which I could identify exactly. I consequently contacted him and asked him how he disposed the bag and he told me that he put it on top of the pile. Now the photographic “evidence” in the letter was a close-up, completely out of context with no reference of location, time taken or any other rubbish around it. It could have fallen while the rubbish was collected or torn by rodents. In any case, the letter mentions:


“Refuse from your flat has been sited as an issue for Leighton Court and as such any further costs to the communal funds due to misuse of the bins will be recharged to your service fees.”


 


As I understand it, they accuse me for the whole darn mess and tell me that if it happens again in the future I will be charged for it. As you can understand I was very upset, mainly for the unfair accusation.


- Can they accuse me like that on circumstantial evidence?


- Can they charge me for future problems?


- What is my case for a defamation action against a) the block managers, b) whoever took the picture.


 

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi

Do you still need an answer?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
OK... For future reference...
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I'm not sure on what basis you are hoping to take any action?

You do not seem to dispute the refuge is from your flat and that the photograph is of your refuge?

In any event, there is no defamation because they only wrote to you and nobody else has had sight of the letter unless you chose to share it with them which is not within the council's control.

In relation to their powers, their evidence is direct not circumstantial and there would seem to be sufficient for a charge if the facts are as you say.

I'm very sorry if thats bad news but the fact that everybody else is in breach of the rules is not a defence for you being in breach. Also, you don't know that they haven't written to others.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
FOR JOMO1972,

Thanks for the reply.

I understand I may not have a case for defamation because my name was not made public (I now know that). Actually they wrote to all the flats and accused others of the same negligence but didn't mention names.

I thought it was clear from my question that I do not accept the evidence. People pile their bags on the bins and while doing so they throw other people's bags off, and those bags end up on the floor.

It doesn't matter if a bag on the floor had my name flashing in bright neon lights, there is no proof that I didn't actually put it in (or on the pile of) the bin in the first place. They never asked people in their letters not to overfill the bins (which is their big mistake in my opinion), or to pick up bags they knock off the bins. Also, the bag in question could have been thrown off by animals. There may be a door on the shed but there are big ventilation/decoration(?) openings on the wall enough for even foxes to get in.

Besides, their evidence is a close-up photo of single piece of torn paper. Where is the rest of it? Where is the bag it came from? Where is it in relation to the bins? How do I know it was not torn out of bag from inside the bin by animals and carried out of the bin? I am not trying to play CSI Wokingham here but they send one picture with exploded bags on the floor that are clearly not mine followed by a close up of a torn piece of paper (which doesn't actually appear in the first photo), which I KNOW was disposed correctly. For all the above reasons I declared the "evidence" circumstantial.

Finally, the question is if I can be held financially liable on previous evidence (false or not, but especially false) for future transgressions. What they are basically saying is, we have evidence you were wrong in the past, so every time there is a problem in the futre we will come to you for money. Seriously? What am I supposed to do, sit outside the shed with a stick and beat people away? How can the burden of proof that I am not responsible in the future fall on me? How can I prove a negative?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I can't really comment on the merits of the law.

I can just tell you the position.

You can contest it on the basis that it isn't your refuge although you will have to account for why its at this location.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
What law are we talking about? The dispute is not the council but the block managers, a private company we collectively pay to maintain and manage the financials of the blocks.

"You can contest it on the basis that it isn't your refuge although you will have to account for why its at this location."

I don't understand. Why is what at what location?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Sorry but I don't think I can add anything to this.

Opting out.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Fair enough, good luck with your Bar exams.
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.


I see the previous expert has
opted out. I can confirm that she did her bar exams over five years ago. She is
now a fully qualified practising barrister.

Unfortunately, your piece of
rubbish is the only one that can be identified because of the letter. The
council I am sure are anxious to stop the nuisance and therefore you got the
letter. The matter would be decided on the balance of probabilities (if it got
to court) as to whether you had placed that rubbish in the bin or in a bag
around the bin. Many authorities refused to remove rubbish which is not
actually in the bin and indeed have levied penalties for anyone who over fills
the bin.



There should be the same
number of bins as properties. It really is a case of identifying who is leaving
rubbish lying around.



I can make the comment that if
your rubbish had properly been put in the bin, then a fox or a dog could not
have dragged the envelope out.



I can understand your
annoyance that everyone is leaving the place looking a mess, but you are the
only one who (on the balance of probabilities). They can currently point a
finger at.



I also appreciate that this is
not the answer you wanted but there is no point in me misleading you.



I would simply make sure that
the local authority provide one bin per property



Can I help further?





Please bear with me today because I will be online and
off-line.

Please don't forget to positively rate my answer service (even if it was not
what you wanted to hear) and I will follow up any further points you raise for
free.

If you don't rate it positively, then the site keep your deposit and I get 0
for my time. It is imperative that you give my answer a positive rating. It
doesn't give me "a pat on the head", "good boy" (like ebay), it is my
livelihood!

If in ratings you feel that you expected more or it only helped a little,
please ask me for further info before rating me negatively otherwise I don't
get paid at all for my time and answer.

The thread remains open.

Thank you.



Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your answers. Very qualified.

A couple of clarifications. It's not the council that I am up against but the block managers, if it makes any difference. Plus, the paper fragment found was on the floor on it's own, outside a bag, and completely out of context.

However, it makes no difference. Let's say I cannot prove that I am not at fault for this instance (which really irritates me).
I still haven't got a real answer to the gist of the questions.

What is my position now and can they blaim me and charge me for future problems?
In essense what can I do to undo this? If they told me "don't do it again, or else" I would have been OK with it. But what they are saying to me is that from now on they are going to hold me responsible (in perpetuity?) for everybody else's actions? Can they really do that?
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.


Thank you. I do try.

It might make a difference depending
on who supplies the refuse containers as to who is responsible for the number
of bins. Usually, wheelie bins are provided by the council. I know that mine
is.



With regard to the paper
fragment being found on the floor, once again, it does come down to the balance
of probabilities. Even if it was just dropped on the floor in error from a
pocket. The same applies.



They cannot blame you for
everything that ever goes wrong, simply because you may have made a mistake (I
know that is in issue) in the past.



If you committed a burglary and
were found guilty, you are not responsible for every burglary that ever happens
in the area. The managers are being ridiculous idiots. They cannot do what they
say and if they try to levy it onto the service charge, simply pay it. (You
have to pay what is demanded) and then sue them in the Small Claims Court to
get it back on the basis that the levy was unfair. I would tell them that if
they do what they propose, that is exactly what your solicitor has advised you
to do.



You might not want to tell
them that he also said that whoever is told you they will hold you responsible
for everything in the future is an idiot!



Can I help further?





Please bear with me today because I will be online and
off-line.

Please don't forget to positively rate my answer service (even if it was not
what you wanted to hear) and I will follow up any further points you raise for
free.

If you don't rate it positively, then the site keep your deposit and I get 0
for my time. It is imperative that you give my answer a positive rating. It
doesn't give me "a pat on the head", "good boy" (like ebay), it is my
livelihood!

If in ratings you feel that you expected more or it only helped a little,
please ask me for further info before rating me negatively otherwise I don't
get paid at all for my time and answer.

The thread remains open.

Thank you.



Stuart J, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 22403
Experience: PGD Law. 20 years legal profession, 6 as partner in High Street Practice
Stuart J and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Great answer and what I expected. My trust in the law - and logic in general - has been restored.

Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
FOR Law Denning

Sorry, I am new to this... How do I rate? I clocked Accept and nothing much happened.
It does say "1 Positive Rating" but I didn't actually do anything. And the question is still open?
Expert:  Stuart J replied 3 years ago.


That is sorted. Thank you. The
rating is sorted.

For some reason, it is simply
come up with, accept rather than 1-5 rating.



Don't worry. The thread
remains open in any event, in case anything else crops up

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