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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hello, Im hoping someone can help. My neighbour (l live in

Customer Question

Hello,
I'm hoping someone can help. My neighbour (l live in a semi detached house and I'm directly connected to him) habitually does DIY in the evenings, often until 9.30pm and sometimes later than that. This DIY involves banging, drilling and hammering. Three nights last week he had his hammer and drill out and last night he was banging, hammering and drilling on the dividing wall between our two properties; he started at 7.30pm and this went on until 9.25pm. When he started I was on the phone to my sister and she could hear all the noise whilst I was trying to talk to her.
This is a regular occurrence with instances happening at least a few evenings a month and often much more frequently than that. I have had the misfortune to live next door to these neighbours for 7 years now and frankly I'm at the end of my tether. There has been constant aggravation from these people ever since they moved in; loud music, constant DIY, harassment and anti social behaviour. I have complained about the noise to the council on at least 7 occasions and this is what happens. He makes the noise late in the evening, I complain to the council who send him a letter and send me a log sheet to fill in over 14 days. He continues to make the noise. I log it on my log sheet and after 14 days return it to the council who agree there is enough evidence to investigate. However he knows how the system works and after 14 days puts his tools away until he thinks he is no longer being investigated and then the following month it all starts up again. This is not resolving the situation, this is just going round in circles.
What can I do to resolve this? I am constantly stressed and angry about this behaviour and need a solution. He knows this is a problem but simply does not care. Until someone in authority tells him he shouldn't be doing it he will continue to do it. I love my house which I've lived in for 24 years but I'm now at a point that if this doesn't stop I will be forced out of my own home through his behaviour. Talking to him is not an option either; I tried doing that when this first started 7 years ago but I'm a middle aged woman and this man is quite aggressive in his manner and I just don't feel safe approaching him. He also owns his house (neither his house or my house are rented),
Please help.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Have you made any complaints to the council?

Do you own your own home?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi yes, I've included all this information in my original e-mail above. Both my house and his house are privately owned. Over the last 7 years I have made at least 7 complaints to the council but he knows how to play the system. This is what happens. He makes the noise late in the evening, I complain to the council who send him a letter and send me a log sheet to fill in over 14 days. He continues to make the noise. I log it on my log sheet and after 14 days return it to the council who agree there is enough evidence to investigate. However he knows how the system works and after 14 days puts his tools away until he thinks he is no longer being investigated and then the following month it all starts up again. This is not resolving the situation, this is just going round in circles.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, that is the problem with DIY. Its something that people can easily stop and begin again.

Its very difficult to address this which is probably the problem that the council have. In fairness, most councils recommend DIY activities can continue up until 9pm on a weekday evening.

The difficulty fundamentally being that he can always argue that the DIY work is essential.

Obviously if you've made reports already then there is no risk in making further complaints though. You will have to declare this dispute to any prospective buyer of your house anyway so the risk is no more.

Nevertheless though, the Council will accept that noise nuisance does not need to be continuous and unremitting to offend. The fact that he does this at some points and not others is not a bar to prosecution.

Probably the problem is that when EH attend or set up noise recording equipment he is not creating noise. That is a difficulty with all noise nuisances.

The upshot though is that if the council just plain refuse to issue a noise abatement notice then you can always take out a private prosecution for statutory nuisance.

Also, you could sue in civil nuisance.

There are costs in both of those actions though that you cannot ignore so it depends how keen you are to act against him.

The plain fact is though that only the Council can issue a noise abatement notice or confiscate his tools if he continues to offend. The fact that he will quickly begin again after the council have lost immediate interest does not mean that they cannot act against him.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, thanks for your response. Just a couple of points; I'm really surprised that you say councils normally allow DIY activity until 9pm at night. Whenever I have made a complaint to the council about his evening DIY activity I have never been advised that he can do this sort of work until that time of night. Secondly, due to the sheer frequency of this DIY activity I do not see how he could argue that it is "essential", it happens far, far too often.


My next step will be to contact the council again on Monday morning to make yet another complaint. If I did decide to consult a solicitor with a view to suing for civil nuisance are there solicitors who specialise in this area? If I go through the yellow pages what sort of solicitor should I be looking for?


Thanks for your help.


PS I always log all of the noise that these neighbours make, whether it be from DIY or loud music.


 

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Well, its not really allowed per se. Its just hours of recommendation. Normally 9am-9pm weekdays, 9am-5pm Saturdays and 9am - 4pm Sundays. Councils are free to vary that and ultimately its not law anyway.

There are some nuisance specialists. You will find them listed with the law society under Environmental health and nuisance. You can speak to them Monday here

http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69359
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
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Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for the positive rating and remember that I am always available to help with your questions. For future information, please start your question with ‘FOR JO C’

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