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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3671
Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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Iam chairman of a company that owns a block of eighteen flats

Resolved Question:

Iam chairman of a company that owns a block of eighteen flats - all leaseholders are shareholders in the company. There is a building site next door and the owner was advised to cut down two large trees on our land to avoid root damage to his potential development. We were in the process of discussing compensation when he turned up with a bunch of unskilled Polish labourers and cut both the trees down illegally. So far he has not agreed to compensation and we have now had to threaten legal action. We are seeking a sum of £10,000 to repair all the damage he has left and to allow for some compensation for lack of amenity as the trees were an important part of the streetscape. We called the police when the trees were being cut down but they never bothered to turn up.
Could you advise the best course of action to "rattle the perpetrator's cage" without incurring huge legal bills? Regards ***** *****
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi Thank you for your question and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will assist you. Is the developer a company or private individual? Were the trees subject to any preservation order?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think the developer is a small time individual builder trying his luck developing a small site next to our building which was a back garden of a corner plot. He is certainly not a substantial developer. He has already been refused planning permission once. The trees are not subject to a preservation order. Regards
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have tried to reply to this but I am not sure that you have received it. Please confirm
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. I have received. Please can you confirm one more point, even though the police did not stop him, he has committed criminal damage to your property have they spoken to him or cautioned him? Kind regards AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No the police ever turned up even though the developer was on site apparently but we have not pursued the matter with the police although we have several witnesses and the managing agent was on site and called the police
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. If you really want to rattle him (in a cost effective way) - I would firstly report him to the council, they wont do anything but it wont make his life easy when it comes to pursuing future planning applications. Secondly you should absolutely make a criminal complaint about this, he has damaged property that belongs to your without consent and this is a criminal offence. In terms of obtaining compensation, have you actually paid for the repair to the damage he has caused?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Unfortunately his land is in Haringey Council and we are in Enfield - the border runs along our land. Thus complaining to Enfield Council probably wouldn't have any effect and I already have spoken to the planning officer at Haringey dealing with him and he says the fac that criminal proceedings has been taken out against him would not effect his planning application! Could you tell me the lowest cost way of taking criminal proceedings? The cost of repairing the damage he has caused will be around £4000 and we want £6000 compensation as cutting down the trees has made the building look much less attractive. Regards Robin
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, Thank you. If you have a bill or estimate for the damage then this would just be a money recovery claim and you could sue him using the https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome - online service. As the overall claim falls within the small claims court, then any cost recovered are fixed so you would probably be best doing this in person if you wanted to keep cost down. As for the criminal complaint this is something you need to pursue you with the police. I would get all the names and contact details of those people that are prepared to be witnesses, I would then prepare your own written statement of events and take this to the police. They may not have shown up to stop the crime, but the damage has been done and they should pursue him if you provide the evidence they need. I look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards AJ
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think it would be simpler to go through the small claims court but I am not sure if this will worry him sufficiently to pay up now and save us a lot of bother. Would we be able to claim for loss of amenity as well actual damage in the small claims court and what is the maximum we can claim? The problem with going down the criminal route is that it involves a lot of work in gathering witness statements, dealing with the police etc. As with so many blocks of flats in London, the flats are mostly rented so we do not necessarily have the details of the tenants - only the owners - and I don't think the police are very interested - hence the fact they never turned up at the time even though our agent waited for two hours. Any further advice would be welcome. Thanks Robin
Expert:  Alex J. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. The limit for the small claims court is £10,000. I cannot guarantee a court will award loss of amenity, but you might as well try and claim for as many losses as possible. You could potentially claim for the cost of purchasing two new mature trees if your intention was to replant the trees somewhere else on the land. I would not rule out pursuing the police complaint, this will certainly put pressure on him and it will take up less of your time. Kind regards AJ
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