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I think my downstairs neighbour is running a dog-sitting business out of her flat. She has two chocolate dachshunds, but every day there seems to be more and more. Last week my wife counted nine. The barking is a real nuisance and the smell in the hallway can be intense on wet days. What can I do?
If your neighbour lives in a flat, then chances are the property is leasehold.
Yes, in fact we are both lessees to the same freeholder.
Good, then running a business out of the flat and keeping animals there could well be contraventions of the lease. You should check yours and you should also check to see if your neighbour has a dog-boarding licence.
I’ve been to my landlord and I’ve been to the council. It seems their dog-sitting gig is legitimate. Is there anything else I can do?
While they may have permission to run the business, the excessive noise levels and the number of dogs being kept in the flat may be breaches of the licence conditions. You should contact the council again and ask them to investigate this. Alternatively, you could just complain to them about the noise. You should write to the neighbour first to let them know that the noise is disturbing you but if that doesn’t yield any results I suggest that for a few weeks you keep a record of when the barking occurs and how long it lasts for so that you have evidence to support your claim. Once you have written to the council they will be able to decide on an appropriate course of action.
That’s all well and good, but where can that lead?
If the local authority decides that your neighbour is breaching their licence it could decide to fine them or to revoke the licence altogether. Alternatively, it may decide that the noise is a statutory nuisance. The noise will need to be considered substantial and unreasonable and factors such as location, time of day, frequency, duration and intensity will be considered. If the council believes this to be the case, an abatement notice can be served on the neighbour. If he or she refuses to comply, they risk committing a criminal offence and may well and truly be in the doghouse.
Sam Shorrocks is an Associate at Farrer & Co
Park that thought
Parking is a nightmare on my street — can I level my front garden and turn it into a parking bay?
If you are prepared to pay then hopefully — but it isn’t guaranteed.
It’s my garden why should I have to pay anyone? The garden is mostly paved and is fine for me to park on. I think I’ll just lower the kerb so I don’t damage my car.
Hold on! It is an offence to drive over a kerb, but you can’t just do the work. You will need to apply for permission through your local authority. It will charge for the application, then there will be requirements and costs for implementing a consent. The application fees and works costs vary and may be higher than you would expect — particularly if there are pipes or wires under the pavement. At the top end, costs could be £10,000 or more (though arguably offset by the added value to your home).
£10,000 just to lower a kerb?! OK, so it may cost me money but the local authority are bound to give permission aren’t they — it’s my garden?
It depends. Factors that could scupper an application include: being too close to a junction, a bus stop nearby or insufficient visibility when turning. Going ahead without permission would leave you open to enforcement action and fines; and if you ever sell, you would have to tell the prospective buyer about the lack of permission.
Supposing I do get permission, what do I do about resurfacing the driveway after I’ve lowered it?
If the area is more than five square metres then planning permission will be needed for laying an impermeable driveway that does not provide for the water to run to a permeable area. Providing the standard rules on general permitted development apply in your local area, you would not need planning permission to install permeable (porous) surfacing like gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt.
Emily Zethraeus is an associate at Farrer and Co
The legal issues in this column refer to England and Wales. The legal issues discussed in this column refer to England and Wales. Scenarios have been compiled for illustrative purposes only
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