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Is Child Minding a Business? Long but loathe to drip feed.

(108 Posts)
JenniferJo Mon 28-Jul-14 13:58:30

An elderly lady (E) I know quite well is having a few problems. She is the sole carer for her husband who is quite infirm and in early stages of a form of dementia.

She live in a Victorian semi - it used to be one house but converted into semis in the 1920s (as were others in their lane). A new neighbour moved in at Easter and has a child minding business. The noise has been a problem ever since it started but E has been trying to think live and let live. However, since the summer holidays started it has been (to quote her) Hell.

Minder has 5 DCs there and they arrive at 7.30am and leave at 6.30 - 7.30 pm and the noise is non stop. In the garden is a trampoline, big pool, swings and climbing frames and there are DCs out there from 7.30am until they go home. They are shrieking and screaming on the various toys and calling over the fence to E's dog - a fat, usually placid, lab. The dog has begun to bark and growl at the children and this makes the noise even worse. So she's keeping him indoors now.

The continual noise is causing enormous distress to her husband who used to sleep quite a lot during the day but cannot because of all the noise.

E has asked if the noise can be kept down a little but the CM rudely told her it was tough. She was talking about this to me in the local shop this morning. Another neighbour of hers overheard and said the noise was driving her mad as well and they should talk to the council. This neighbour also said that there is a covenant on the deeds to her house (similar to E's) to say that a business cannot be run from the premises.

It's likely that E's will say the same, so to get to my question, eventually - does child minding count as a business for this sort of covenant? Or does it mean a shop or workshop.

And if it does, who can E talk to about getting it closed?

BookABooSue Mon 28-Jul-14 14:07:24

Who you can complain to depends on whether the childminder owns her home or not.

If she is renting then her lease with her LL will probably prohibit the running of a business from her home, and childminding does count as a business. In the first instance, you would complain to her LL.

If the childminder owns her house then depending on the local authority, she might need planning permission to run a childminding business from her home. Contact the local authority and speak to the local planning officer. They'll be able to advise if she needs planning permission, if she already has it and any conditions (eg including noise restrictions and business hours). Your friend can then complain to the planning department.

There are noise abatement officers that you can complain to but tbh I doubt the sound of five children playing would be over acceptable noise levels.

Hoppinggreen Mon 28-Jul-14 14:08:49

I would imagine it is a business and has to be registered as such.
Speak to the council to see if a business is registered at the address and go from there.
Although the council will have had to register it in the first place so I would be surprised.

JenniferJo Mon 28-Jul-14 14:10:22

Thank you. The CM is the owner of the house. I think the planning officer is the way to go. I'll let E know.

Purpleflamingos Mon 28-Jul-14 14:15:43

I cannot run a business from my house but have permission from the local council to run both a childminding and sole trader nail technician business. The clause stating not running a business from the premises was inserted solely for traffic and parking purposes.
By doing nails I can only serve one client at a time as I have promised not to employ others to work in the house and as a childminder (which I no longer work as) there was only ever pick ups and drop offs.
I think the clause can be bent a little.

JenniferJo Mon 28-Jul-14 14:18:41

Even if planning permission was given I'm wondering if the covenant in the deeds means that it could be challenged and withdrawn.

IfYouCouldSeeMeNow Mon 28-Jul-14 14:27:53

It's possible that you could appeal, but you'd need good grounds for it to be withdrawn, especially now that there are registered children.

As said above, the noise of five children playing is unlikely to be enough. E could, unfortunately, have that if a family with children moved in.

NickNacks Mon 28-Jul-14 14:30:39

Many of the legal issues I've had to check since becoming a cm (permission, insurance, planning regs) have all classed it as 'working from home' and not 'running a business'.

Even the councils who require pp only ask for it when more than 6 children. Most insurances allow up to 12 children.

adsy Mon 28-Jul-14 14:32:07

The vast majority of councils don't ask for planning permission for cM'ing.
Although it is a business, it is not classed as business premises as it is the family home so there's a dispensation.
In this case, business would mean something like an ironing service, or running a café.
I would be very very surprised if she were asked to close. Is the sound of kids playing really that bad to warrant trying to close her livelihood?

adsy Mon 28-Jul-14 14:34:14

Anyway, soon be winter then people won't have to suffer the horrendous noise of small children enjoying themselves.

SiennaBlake Mon 28-Jul-14 14:36:19

What would she do if a big family had moved instead? Noise is part of close living.

Missunreasonable Mon 28-Jul-14 14:39:41

Really, people complaining about young children making noise when having fun with play equipment in a garden during daytime hours?
Whilst I understand the difficulties for the gentleman with dementia who needs to sleep a lot I don't think it is fair to expect children to be quiet during the summer months. As long as they are not damaging anything or swearing then I think it is ridiculous to expect them not to use things like swings and paddling pools during the summertime.
What Would you have done if the neighbour had 5 children of her own who played outside and enjoyed themselves?

GinAndSonic Mon 28-Jul-14 14:42:40

What if a family with 5 kids had moved in next door? Unfortunately, with my dc that would mean the thump thump thump patter of little feet starting anywhere between 4 and 6.30am, usually accompanied by sibling squabbles and crying when i send them back to bed. The kids would then be playing all day, before quite probably crying through the night due to night terrors, asthma attacks and falling out of bed.

Unfortunately for your friend, she cannot dictate who lives next door or stop the noise that comes from having young children in a property. Thats sad for her and her husband if they have had quiet neighbours in the past, but thats life. I doubt the council will do anything other than raise one eyebrow at a complaint of children making a noise during daylight hours. It seems an awful reason to try and shut down a persons business or drive them out of their home.

ecuse Mon 28-Jul-14 14:43:42

Restrictive covenants are, as far as I understand, a quite separate issue from planning. We pulled out of a house purchase because of a restrictive covenant saying no business use, as my DP works from home fixing computers and our solicitor told us they are apparently all but impossible to remove. That being said, solicitor also told us they're not often or easily enforced. They're not enforced through the council planning department, I believe your neighbours have to take you to civil court to enforce them (disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer!).

Also, I think NickNacks is right - I believe CMing is classed as working from home not running a business, although I'm not sure the legal distinction with respect to restrictive covenants.

fromparistoberlin73 Mon 28-Jul-14 14:49:26

i am sympathetic to a degree but they need to recall its for a finite time period

it wont be the holidays forever
school will start
some days it will rain!

can he get ear plugs? Joking aside they do work

I think she should talk to the noise abatement people and get their advice. If there's 5 kids screaming in the garden at 7.30 am every day, that's not really on. Otherwise perhaps you could look into a white noise type of noise cancellation device or some other tricks like that.

Yes children make noise but the CM should be more considerate of her neighbours. My DS goes to a preschool in a residential area and they don't let the kids into the garden until after 9, for example.

The CM should also keep the kids from harassing the dog.

Madlizzy Mon 28-Jul-14 14:54:03

I think 7.30 to be out making a racket in the garden is a bit much. I'd be asking the childminder to wait until 9am before letting the kids out, and giving them strict instructions to leave the dog alone and stay off the fence. Otherwise, it's hard to keep children quiet.

I think it's generally not classed as a business, it doesn't require any change of use etc. My understanding -dh is a cm-is that it's working from home. There are extra planning requirements here if you have more than a certain number of children though.

Missunreasonable Mon 28-Jul-14 14:59:36

Deoends on what you call early. I don't think 7.30am is that early. The guidelines are that noise is generally okay after 7am.
www.hiil.org/bestpractices/How%20to%20determine%20acceptable%20levels%20of%20noise%20nuisance%20(UK)

JenniferJo Mon 28-Jul-14 15:06:00

Hi, thanks for all the replies.

I can't understand how anyone can think that constant shrieking and screaming is acceptable for 12 hours a day. The noise is much louder than normal "children's play". The other neighbour said as much.

They appear to be unsupervised, or if they are, then the child minder thinks teasing a dog is ok.

Fortunately E can afford a solicitor so I think that will be her next move. The neighbour said the covenant is very restrictive because they hesitated when they were buying. E says it was so long ago she can't remember. The developer was very keen to keep it as a residential street, apparently.

Mandy2003 Mon 28-Jul-14 15:16:28

50 years ago when I was a baby, the NDN was a childminder with a similar number of children. The council must have thought that the noise was unreasonable because my parents were given a reduction in their rates (council tax) due to the nuisance.

Madlizzy Mon 28-Jul-14 15:18:10

I think 7.30 is early for kids to be out screaming, and I'd not be too impressed with it. I also have 4 children and monitored their noise levels when they were younger.

It really will depend on the wording I think. Obviously the covenant might be more specific and be of use, but childminding is officially classed as something like childcare in domestic premises so it might be a tough fight...

If its of any practical help, I've found using the fan on full blast setting creates enough white noise to stop the noise of children playing ( shrieking included) from waking my easily woken 6mo.

LastTango Mon 28-Jul-14 15:23:51

My Deeds state that no business can be run from our houses.........but over the road neighbour decided to flout this and start a CM business without consulting any of us (small cul-de-sac very quiet lots of retired etc.). It would seem that nothing can stop her. She has made our lives a misery from 7 am to 6 pm. I think she could be challenged privately over the Deeds that were granted when planning permission was given.....but none of us are rich enough to do it. She and her DH are really selfish people and couldn't give a fuck about the rest of us.

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