While regular neighbour disputes can be attempted to be resolved through one on one communication between both parties concerned, cases, where one neighbour is making malicious complaints to the council about another neighbour, may need to be dealt with rather skilfully. This article will mainly focus on how to deal with such situations but will also provide a general overview of some common neighbour disputes, the rights that each party has in each of them and the role of the council in being a mediator to resolve such disputes.

How Do I Deal With Neighbour Making Malicious Complaints To Council?

If you know that the complaint made by your neighbour to the council is untrue, you need not respond on your own and wait for the council to conduct their own investigation. In the meanwhile, you can gather relevant facts (and pieces of evidence, if need be) so that those may be shared with the authorities if you are being questioned.

Generally, it is advisable to either talk to your neighbour (or their landlord if they are a tenant) so that any dispute may be resolved. If this is not a workable solution in your case, you may choose the help of a mediator, your council and if nothing else works in your favour and the malicious complaints are backed with harassment, you may choose to go to court. However, this may prove to be an expensive way to resolve the matter.

However, you must keep in view that in extreme cases where the situation caused by a neighbour is causing severe interference with the enjoyment of someone’s home or has the potential to cause health-related problems, councils are bound by law to investigate these situations classified as Statuary Nuisance. These may include any of the following occurrences:

  • artificial light from premises
  • accumulation on the premises such as piles of rotting rubbish
  • badly kept animals
  • insect infestations 
  • noise from premises or from vehicles, equipment or machinery in the street
  • premises kept in a poor state
  • smoke,  fumes or gases rising from premises
  • smells from premises (this includes, sewage treatment works, factories or restaurants)

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, in such cases, councils issue an abatement notice under which the individuals responsible for the act are asked to immediately cease the activity or restrict it to certain hours of the day. Failure to comply with council orders can lead to penalties and court action.

If you think that your neighbour’s behaviour is anti-social such as harassing you because of religion, race, sex, disability or another characteristic, they make a lot of noise, dump rubbish or

write graffiti, have a dog that barks a lot or causes trouble or use your garden without permission, such acts can be reported to your local council.

Can The Council Force My Neighbour To Tidy Their Garden?

Yes, the council can force your neighbour to tidy their garden, especially in case of excessive weeds or rubbish piles as those can lead to health-related problems and pose a threat to the environment as well.

Situations that may affect the health or general well being of residents can be classified as “detrimental to the amenity of the neighbourhood”. In this case, the matter will be dealt with under powers available in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Under this process, your local council can serve a Section 215 notice on your neighbour who has caused the problem. This means that your neighbour will be assigned a due date by when they are required to maintain their garden according to the specific guidelines provided to them by the council.

Residents may also inform their local Environmental Health Department if they face a situation in which there is damage to the environment or the general well being of the people in the neighbourhood; such as the piling of trash, overgrown weeds, there is a potential risk of pest infestation. 

Can Council Help With Cat Deterrent Noise?

Yes, the council can help with cat deterrent noise as well as any other noise that might cause disturbance in a neighbourhood.

Although cat deterrent devices are designed in such a way that their noise level is only audible to cats and not humans, however, if there is such a device in your neighbourhood that is causing disturbing noise, it can be reported to the council with a request for action.

In certain cases, councils may only be able to help you if the noise that you are complaining about is regular and consistent. They may ask you to maintain a log of the frequency of the noise any may only be able to take action if the incidents are regular and consistent for 10 to 14 days.

Noise that councils can investigate for action include the following:

  • animals, like barking dogs or crowing cockerels
  • building sites
  • burglar and car alarms
  • buskers or street performers
  • deliveries or waste collections at a commercial property
  • equipment in a commercial property
  • noisy neighbours; this includes loud music, shouting or DIY at night
  • pubs and clubs

Can Council Help With Rats In The Neighbourhood?

There is a bit of a grey area to this question as the answer depends on the circumstances of the tenant and landlord.

If you are a private tenant, it depends upon your tenancy agreement whether the liability for pest/rodent control falls upon the landlord or the tenant. In most cases, landlords are responsible for paying the bill for pest control services while the tenant is expected to make the necessary arrangements for its process. 

However, if the pest control situation arises due to any action of the tenant or due to neglect by them, tenants may be required to pay the bill for such services 

In case you live in a council house, pest control in the surrounding areas of the council remains the responsibility of the council itself. However, pest management within the household depends upon your situation. 

While councils are not committed to providing pest control services, you should inform them of such a situation and seek their guidance on how to proceed with its management. In some cases, councils may be able to connect you to reliable and affordable pest management providers. In exceptional cases, they may be able to manage the expense as well. 

If your council house is owned by a social housing landlord, the responsibility for pest/rodent control depends on your tenancy agreement. If the landlord has clearly taken responsibility for its management, they will pay for the expense; expecting the tenant to be available and responsible for the execution of the service.

Can Council Inspect My House?

Yes, council authorities have a duty to visit houses; both privately rented ones and especially council housing premises. Such visits are scheduled in advance and residents are informed ahead of the visit to expect a visit by the council authorities at a specified date and time.

The nature and purpose of this visit may vary. For instance, sometimes visits by council authorities are an informal assessment before a formal inspection is carried out for home improvement or extension work to be carried out.

The reasons for a council visit may include any other following:

  • Inspection or assessment prior to home improvement/restructuring/modification/extension tasks is planned.
  • Inspection or follow up on complaints of pest control.
  • Inspection or assessment in response to complaints by the tenant(s).
  • Inspection or assessment in response to complaints by the neighbours against the tenant(s). 
  • Inspection to check multiple occupancy status (if the resident claims to be a single occupant for the property).

There are times when the reason for council authorities visiting a council house is in response to a complaint filed by the resident(s).

When residents have complaints about their living conditions, or if the property that they are living in (whether it is privately rented or is part of social housing) is not fit for inhabitation, they may request the local council authorities to visit the premises especially if the authorities are expected to take any action int his regard. Sometimes when landlords are uncooperative about home improvements (those that may harm the health of tenants or cause external damage), they mask request council authorities to visit their house for inspection.

Conclusion:

In case of malicious complaints by neighbours, you may need to seek a third-party intervention; either through a mediator or the council authorities. The council conducts an investigation depending on the nature of the complaints during which they may question you. As long as your facts and evidence are ready to be shared, you will not have to worry. If your neighbour is harassing you along with placing malicious complaints, you can report this to the council as anti-social behaviour.

FAQs: How Do I Deal With Neighbour Making Malicious Complaints To Council?

What happens if your Neighbour complains about you?

If your neighbour complains directly to you, your landlord or the council, you can start with talking to them and clearing the dispute. If that doesn’t work, you can seek the help of a mediator or your local council authority.

Are neighbour complaints confidential?

Yes, neighbour complaints are kept confidential by the authorities. However, there are times when they need to conduct investigations on the basis of these complaints as certain issues are punishable (either through a penalty or legal action) by law. In such cases, they may need to disclose the nature of the complaint to the offending party.

How do I report a neighbour with a mental illness?

If you are concerned about the mental state of a neighbour, you must inform your local council immediately. Additionally, you should also inform the police.

What is antisocial behaviour?

When there is persistent behaviour from an individual that causes alarm, distress or harassment to other people in the household or neighbourhood, it is termed as antisocial behaviour. Such behaviours can be reported to council authorities who have the power to take action against it.

What is considered a neighbours’ dispute?

A disagreement between neighbours that leads to stress and friction between both parties and the neighbourhood environment is considered as a neighbours’ dispute. When you sell a property, you need to declare information regarding such matters to potential buyers.

References:

If your neighbour is complaining about you – Citizens Advice

Complaining about your neighbour – Citizens Advice

If_a_neighbour_makes_a_nuisance_complaint_about_you_fact_sheet

Resolving neighbour disputes – GOV.UK

Make-a-complaint/fact-sheets/housing/neighbour-nuisance-and-anti-social-behaviour

Disputes with neighbours | Metropolitan Police

Statutory nuisances: how councils deal with complaints – GOV.UK

Pests-pollution-noise-food/noise

Pollution & Nuisance – Environmental Protection UK

Council want to inspect my property – Property118

Health and safety standards for rented homes (HHSRS)

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