How neigh­bours from hell de­stroy lives

With two thirds of Brits com­plain­ing about nui­sance res­i­dents, Closer speaks to one wo­man who has lived through it…

Closer (UK) - - Contents - By Anna Mathe­son

Last month, L ex-easten­ders ac­tor Ivan Kaye and his part­ner Beatrix told a court how they were forced out of their £750,000 London home by a neigh­bour who, he claims, launched a “ter­ri­fy­ingly frosty cam­paign of tor­ment”.

Ivan, 57, lived above chil­dren’s au­thor Amanda Lees from 2013 un­til re­cently. The ac­tor claims that Lees bom­barded him with “fright­en­ingly angry” noise com­plaints, would re­peat­edly bang on her ceil­ing, and let her gar­den grow so high that it blocked his lounge win­dow.

The ac­tor, who played Dr Jonathan Leroy in the BBC soap, was forced to rent out the flat due to be­ing at his “wits’ end”, but his tenants went on to suf­fer a “tirade of com­plaints”.

De­spite Lees deny­ing the claims, Judge Richard Roberts ac­cepted Ivan’s ver­sion of events. His lawyers say Lees faces hav­ing to pay up to £1 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion be­cause he was un­able to sell or rent the flat.

Ex­perts say rows be­tween neigh­bours are in­creas­ing each year, with ris­ing house prices pos­si­bly to blame as more peo­ple live in cramped spa­ces. Sta­tis­tics show that over two thirds of UK home­own­ers have re­ported be­ing plagued by night­mare neigh­bours. Last year, over 250,000 peo­ple made com­plaints about noise – of which only 8,000 were fol­lowed up with le­gal no­tices or fines from coun­cils.

In ad­di­tion, there were over 570,000 com­plaints to coun­cils about bad be­hav­iour from neigh­bours last year, with ar­gu­ments about park­ing spa­ces, ex­ten­sions and build­ing works.

CON­STANT STRESS

Dr Si­mon Stu­art, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, says it’s im­por­tant that com­plaints are taken se­ri­ously. He says, “Our homes are our sanc­tu­ar­ies where we can re­lax, so if that is dis­rupted, it can have huge phys­i­cal and men­tal ef­fects. Of­ten, peo­ple who are deal­ing with nui­sance neigh­bours are in a con­stant state of stress, which can af­fect ev­ery­thing from sleep to re­la­tion­ships.

“Whether you’re a home­owner or in rented ac­com­mo­da­tion, it’s easy to feel trapped. But tak­ing prac­ti­cal steps and fol­low­ing your lo­cal author­ity’s advice can help to make you feel more in con­trol.”

Tabby Far­rar, 26, un­der­stands what it’s like to have neigh­bours that make your life hell. In March 2017, the mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive was ex­cited to move in to her first rented flat in Nor­wich with boyfriend Chris, 36, an in­sur­ance claims han­dler.

Tabby ex­plains, “It seemed like a lovely lo­ca­tion, quiet and over­look­ing a park. We couldn’t be­lieve we’d been so lucky.”

But two weeks af­ter mov­ing in, the cou­ple were shocked when their down­stairs neigh­bour be­gan singing loudly late at night.

Tabby says, “It was more like shriek­ing than singing, but we tried to ig­nore it. How­ever, when it got to 11pm, I de­cided to go down­stairs and ask her to tone it down a bit.

“I was shocked when she re­fused to open the door, but in­stead hurled in­sults and pro­fan­i­ties at me and just car­ried on screech­ing.

“I was speech­less. As I walked back up the stairs to our flat, an­other neigh­bour was walk­ing out of his door and said, ‘That’s just the start – she’ll be up all night.’ We later re­alised that the words she was singing were all of­fen­sive words.”

The cou­ple con­tacted their let­ting agent the next morn­ing.

Tabby says, “I was given the num­ber of a po­lice of­fi­cer and con­tact at the coun­cil who was deal­ing with com­plaints about this par­tic­u­lar neigh­bour – it had been go­ing on for months but noth­ing was men­tioned when we viewed the flat. We com­plained im­me­di­ately, but were of­fered lit­tle help from the let­ting agents. We were dev­as­tated.”

FEEL­ING HELP­LESS

From then on, Tabby and her neigh­bours phoned the po­lice mul­ti­ple times a week with noise com­plaints.

She ex­plains, “It was aw­ful. She would sing from 11pm to 7am and it was right be­low our bed­room. It was so loud that res­i­dents in flats two build­ings away be­gan com­plain­ing.

“If you tried to con­front her, she would scream pro­fan­i­ties at you. We couldn’t have a con­ver­sa­tion over din­ner or watch a film be­cause she was so loud. It was ex­haust­ing and

❛OUR SEX LIFE ALL BUT DRIED UP AS WE HATED BE­ING AT HOME❜

started af­fect­ing our work.

“We both had coun­selling to try to deal with the stress, but there was no re­lease. Nor­mally, if some­thing is both­er­ing you, you can go home and for­get about it for a while, but there was no respite for us.

“Our sex life all but dried up as we hated be­ing at home. We spent a lot of money on eat­ing out in pubs. Three months in, we stayed with some friends who had a spare room for a few days to get some sleep. Each time we com­plained, she would be cau­tioned and then car­ried on any­way. We felt to­tally help­less.”

DES­PER­A­TION

The cou­ple’s flat was fit­ted with mi­cro­phones and they were asked to sub­mit sound record­ings to the coun­cil’s noise abate­ment team.

Mean­while, Tabby and Chris were des­per­ate to get out of their ten­ancy. Tabby ex­plained, “We were tied in to a year’s con­tract and couldn’t af­ford to lose our de­posit if we broke it.

“Fi­nally, af­ter of­fers of re­duced rent, we were able to get out of it and, in Novem­ber 2017, we moved out.”

A month later, the cou­ple’s neigh­bour, Heather Webb, 48, was fi­nally taken to court and given a 24-month Crim­i­nal Be­hav­iour Or­der ban­ning her from singing loudly.

Tabby says, “I know most of the other res­i­dents have moved out, too. It’s taken us a long time to get over it. Even now, if I hear a squeak­ing pipe or a child scream, I re­coil.”

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