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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71053
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hello there, I bought my house 20 years ago and have benefitted

Customer Question

Hello there,
I bought my house 20 years ago and have benefitted from my next door being used as an office for most of this time and hence no disturbance in the evenings or weekends. However, about 3 years ago the owners of the property converted it to a home for the brain damaged. He obtained planning permission for this and subsequently for a smoking shelter which is just over 1 meter from my kitchen window.
I feel my easy going tolerant nature has been completely taken advantage of. I have had several meetings with the owner to let him know the level of disturbance the home is causing me and each time he promises to provide a shelter on the other side of the building but has done nothing about it.
I have been reasonable throughout and sympathise with the clients BUT it is becoming depressing living here.
On a daily basis, usually 3-4 times, one client screams and shouts disturbing things eg: you took my baby, I hate you all, I want to go home etc apart from this I listen in intimate detail ( since there is no choice) to the ramblings of the mentally ill and their carers and feel like I may as well be living in a mad house.
I can hear everything since they constantly have patients smoking outside and their door is wide open. Visitors to my home are initially amused but quickly shocked at the level and nature of noise I put up with daily.
I am now becoming angry that I can't sit in my garden without listening to mentally ill people whaling, clearing their throats, coughing or swearing.
I feel powerless since last time a spoke to the owner he as good as told me it was tough luck, he was allowed to operate there and if house prices went down then too bad.
So, two concerns really; the disturbance and whats becoming more worrying is the sell ability of my home.
Whats my best course of action?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

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

Did you object to the planning permission application when it was made?

Has this devalued your home and if so by how much and what proof do you have?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I did object initially because their proposal included plans to build an extension that was 1 metre from our adjoining wall ( that's 2 metres from my kitchen window). When they acknowledged this I let it go. I was under the impression that the home was for the elderly but may have over looked the detail. In retrospect I should have looked into it in more Carefully. Does that mean I have no leg to stand on?
As for devaluation, I have no proof as such but common sense tells me that if anyone came to view the house they would have a good chance of hearing the noise or else they'd ask about the neighbours and I would be obliged to tell them the truth- there is no doubt in my mind that if anyone heard the noise they would be put off. The noise is happening now. I have heard other neighbours shouting at them from the road below me and beside me. I won't do that as I'd be shouting all day- not good.
My daughter has recently started recording the noise just in case I ever need evidence.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.

I just need about 30 mins to consider this if thats OK?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
I'm sorry to have to tell you that you have no leg to stand on about the use provided the use that is happening is that in the planning application. You would need to check the planning application to see.

I would press the matter with the Environmental Health Department at the local authority because if this noises continual and is more than the ordinary noise of day-to-day life, and it does become actionable. If the Environmental Health Department still refuse to do anything about it then make a formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

There is another issue which relates to the smoking shelter and presumably the smoke which emanates from it and that is also an issue for the Environmental Health Department because that is obviously a health issue! However there is something more important about the smoking issue and the shelter and that is that this is common law Private nuisance and you are entitled not to have a nuisance.

My suggestion would be to write to the owner of the next-door premises (although the latter will have no weight coming from a solicitor) telling them that unless they move the shelter to an acceptable distance from your house where you are no longer bothered by the noise all the smoke you will apply to court for an injunction to make them move the shelter and you will ask the court to award not only compensation but also the costs of the court action against them.

If you have house insurance, many policies have legal expenses cover attached so check to see if you have that because it may cover the legal costs.

Can I clarify anything for you?