Pay off or file injunction on neighbour harassing tenants?

by Readers Question

16:36 PM, 15th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Pay off or file injunction on neighbour harassing tenants?

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Pay off or file injunction on neighbour harassing tenants?

I have rented out a property for nearly 2 years after relocating abroad for work. My property is an upstairs maisonette that I lived in with my wife for 3 years. Prior to moving we had problems with the downstairs neighbour who complained many times about leaks into their property, each time we had plumbers and the local water company out to investigate, however each time no leak was identified.

It reached the point where the neighbour would switch off our water supply in the street on a regular basis because they ‘thought a leak was about to happen’, but could never back their claim with any evidence.

In the weeks before moving out, we had the water company and our plumber formally write to us and the neighbour to confirm no leak was found between the properties and our estate agent confirmed the property was ready to let. We then let the property out to a tenant.

2 years later, our tenant is now moving out because during that time the neighbour continued to harass her and her daughter, switching off the water and consistently complaining to her and our estate agent. During that time many more plumbers have visited the property and on no occasion was a leak found.

Having seen the state of downstairs property which has been poorly maintained over more than 20 years I suspect the neighbour is trying to claim that a leak has caused damage and therefore someone else (us) should be liable to pay for repairs. The neighbour has sent many letters to us with false claims over the years in which they have asked for money for damages that we did not cause.

The neighbour has been making ours, our tenants and the agents lives hell for a long time and I now fear the property will be unlettable while the neighbours continue to cause problems. It seems for now my only options are

1. Try and pay off the neighbour in the hope that they leave us and our tenants alone. This is really not a preferred option and would feel like I’m giving into blackmail but may be the cheapest option (if we were to truly believe they would stop harassing us/our tenants).

2. Let the agent deal with it, find new tenants and hope the neighbours stop harassing them. This seems hopeful and maybe unrealistic, I also don’t know if the agent will want to continue letting the property after all the issues.

3. Take a legal route against the neighbour perhaps by filing an injunction. This I imagine would be costly.

If anyone has any advice on how to deal with this situation it would be greatly appreciated!

John



Comments

Neil Patterson

16:37 PM, 15th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Maybe a silly question but have you spoken with the council yet about their behavior?

John Parfett

8:36 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Unfortunately this sounds like the symptoms of a mental illness to me.

James Barnes

9:16 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

I'd suggest to your neighbors that they can contact the Council and ask them to investigate a statutory nuisance caused by a water leak. If there's no leak to be found, your neighbors will either not want to get the Council involved or the Council will inspect and confirm there was never a leak in the first place.
After that point, if they continue to be create trouble I'd go down the harassment route and seek an injunction.

Ian Narbeth

10:20 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Under no circumstances pay the neighbour. He will see you as weak and a soft touch and his demands will increase. When you try to stop paying he will swear blind that you have admitted liability as evidenced by the payment.
The neighbour may not be worth suing but you have two realistic choices. 1. Sell and leave the problem for someone else. 2. Take legal action and threaten the neighbour with a substantial claim for damages for interfering with your tenancies and for harassment.
Neighbour disputes are always unpleasant and can be very costly. A formal dispute will also have to be disclosed to a purchaser or lender so you may consider selling the easier option.

silversurfer2017

10:42 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Selling may be a difficult option. When the seller completes his seller's form one of the questions is 'Are there or have there been any disputes with neighbours?' If you lie and say 'none' then the purchaser can come back to you and claim compensation if you knowingly withheld information which was material to his decision to purchase the property.

JScholes

10:47 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Neil Patterson at 15/03/2018 - 16:37
Thanks for your response. Yes we did speak with the council when this first began however they were less than interested in helping out. That said, a lot of time has passed so trying again is certainly an option

JScholes

10:50 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by John Parfett at 16/03/2018 - 08:36
I have considered that this may be the case too. In fact, the plumbers and water company that visited the property unofficially speculated the same.

JScholes

10:53 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by James Barnes at 16/03/2018 - 09:16
Thanks for your reply this seems like a sensible approach. I believe they have done everything they possibly can with the council and the council have never contacted us in regards to an issue so I'd assume they are unwilling to help the neighbour.

I am considering having the council verify one more time that there is no issue and having them confirm this in writing.

JScholes

11:00 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 16/03/2018 - 10:20
Thanks for your reply Ian. I agree that paying them off would be unlikely to solve our problem. What would be considered a 'formal dispute'? We haven't made a 'formal' complaint against them but have received many hand-written letters and have had multiple 3rd parties involved in dealing with them (agents, plumbers, local water company and the freeholder). I assume this would legally need to be disclosed should we try and sell?

Also, as we personally haven't lived in the property for 2 years and do not intend to return, would we still need to disclose details as they haven't been our 'personal' neighbours for some time

Ian Narbeth

11:07 AM, 16th March 2018
About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by at 16/03/2018 - 10:42
Agreed and you are absolutely right about making honest disclosure but at the moment the dispute has not escalated. Once you start sending lawyers' letters and issuing proceedings it is an order of magnitude harder and you won't be able to sell until the legal proceedings are concluded.

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