Neighbours in Lockdown
On Good Friday the Government declared that the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on the country will be extended to May the 5th at the earliest. Largely, the Irish public have been happy to do their part. Communities have come together by staying apart. From bingo-calling in Ringsend to drive-by birthday greetings in Sligo, citizens have been making the best of difficult times. For some, however, simmering neighbourly tensions may erupt under these stressful conditions.
Sellors has noticed an increase in calls and emails from landowners and renters seeking solutions to disputes with their neighbours. Ranging from noise nuisance to boundary issues, passions are often inflamed in such disputes. Before any formal proceedings or complaints are issued, it is imperative that both parties try to talk the matter out and resolve things amicably. It is less costly and more practical to enter into a mutually beneficial agreement. It is usual where this type of dispute is put before a judge or tribunal for ruling that proceedings are adjourned to allow for mediation. A Plaintiff is greatly assisted by providing proof that mediation was offered in good faith and subsequently refused or ignored.
Regular parties, loud music, incessant shouting or overactive dogs may affect sleep, study and mental health. If no agreement is possible the available remedies depend on whether your neighbour owns his home, is a tenant under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 or is living in Local Authority Housing. As a preliminary maintain a noise diary, if you need to progress your action through a formal court application, you will need an engineer’s report setting out the decibel level. Noise becomes a nuisance when it is “…so loud, so continuous, so repeated, of such duration or pitch or occurring at such times as to give reasonable cause for annoyance…”. Sellors can advise on which avenues for relief are open to you.
Whether your neighbour owns his home, is a private tenant or is living in Local Authority Housing will again determine which avenue to take if your neighbour behaves in an anti-social manner. Harassment in this context is defined as significant or aggressive pressure or intimidation or persistent impairment of their use or enjoyment of their property. The Gardai have powers under the Criminal Justice Act 2006 to issue a behaviour warning which can remain in force for three months and can then make an Anti-Social Behaviour Order where the warning does not have the desired effect. The PRTB also have powers to deal with anti-social tenants.
Boundary issues are complex but we at Keating Connolly Sellors have significant experience in dealing with boundary disputes in respect of both commercial and residential property. We can give you guidance on resolving boundary disputes through mediation and where necessary through court applications. If you agree to vary a boundary or provide your neighbour with an easement for maintenance of a boundary, the agreement should be recorded in writing to ensure no further misunderstandings.
If or you have been affected by any of the issues discussed above contact David Whelan at [email protected]