To not pay for my neighbours flats to be cleaned after building works?

(126 Posts)
happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 10:44:17

We are 4 weeks into a 6 week renovation on the ground floor flat we just bought in London. We have 2 neighbours above, one on either side and one at the back. We are not living there whilst the work is being done (it's a building site). It's noisy and messy.

We like to think we are considerate and neighbourly, and contacted all the neighbours letting them know our plans and schedule. We have left notes and chocolates with them part way through the works and kept them informed (and continued to apologise for the disruption) along the way.

Unfortunately, they are starting to get impatient. This week we have had a very unhappy email stating how shocked and upset the neighbours are about the state our builders are leaving the place in. They expect the communal hall to be hoovered daily and no building rubbish to be left outside in the front garden at any point. (I believe it's not in their way and personally I would bear with it for this short period). We have asked our builders again to keep it cleared regularly where possible.

I am sympathetic to a point, and we have played a civil and apologetic game. The neighbour DEMANDED her windows were cleaned by us at the end of the work, we happily we said yes of course. We also pointed out we would have communal areas professionally cleaned / carpets washed at the end of the work - and make good any damage or knocks to the communal hall etc.

We visited today to keep them informed. We were met with up-tightness and attitude. I understand it is not nice living amidst this but I'm not sure what else I can do to placate them.

Above all I want to be FAIR. Today's demand was 'I think we (all the neighbours) DESERVE that you pay for all our flats to be cleaned. At which point I said 'unfortunately I think this is a hazzard of flat living, but I'm happy to have all communal areas processionally cleaned, as you know.' Perhaps I object to the word 'deserve' or that I'm being seen as the meal ticket for redecorating the hall (yes they asked for that too). I like the fact that we are moving to an area with people who care about being considerate neighbours but I think they are starting to be unfair and there is little else I feel I can do at this point.

AIBU? What else can I do / suggest that is FAIR and without setting the expectation that I can be walked over just to keep the peace???

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 20-Jul-13 10:47:33

YANBU they sound like they are taking the mick! I would like you clean the communal areas but their flat!? No way! They'll be saying "Since we're so upset we think you ought to take us all on holiday." next!

CandidaDoyle Sat 20-Jul-13 10:50:16

Hmmm, you don't want to live there because it's noisy & messy, but your neighbours can't escape it.

They would have to have their windows open due to the heat, increasing the noise levels and letting in even more dust etc.

Under the circumstances I don't think the neighbours are too unreasonable wanting you to pay for the clean up of your project.

nennypops Sat 20-Jul-13 10:53:34

If your works are making their flats messy, I can't really see why they should have to clean up after you. You're going to have to live with them a long time. I can't see any argument against paying up.

LastTangoInDevonshire Sat 20-Jul-13 10:54:44

YABU - it must be HELL for them living there (and you don't want to). As they will be your neighbours I would do anything you can to placate them!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Gooseysgirl Sat 20-Jul-13 10:57:34

YANBU, sounds like you've been very nice, apologetic about it and doing your best to ensure minimal disruption. They're lucky it's only taking 6 weeks.. You can be sure there are plenty of people out there that wouldn't have been as considerate as you have been. If I was your neighbour I would have greatly appreciated the advance notice of the works which you did! It's part and parcel of communal flat living, people will need to carry out work from time to time. They need to get over themselves. Where I work there are massive building works going on and 100s of people living nearby are being affected, it is a TWO year project... 6 weeks is nothing!!!

VivaLeBeaver Sat 20-Jul-13 10:57:58

I can't see how your work is making their flats messy. You're been good getting the communal area professionally cleaned and windows cleaned, its more than a lot of people would. I think they're taking the piss.

How do they reckon their building work is making inside their flats messy?

I've had loads of renovation work done in this house, walls down, ceilings down, chimney breasts knocked out, plastering. It made other rooms dusty if the internal doors weren't closed but if the bedroom doors were shut then other rooms were fine. And this was the same (small) house!

HenWithAttitude Sat 20-Jul-13 10:58:36

We are not living there whilst the work is being done (it's a building site). It's noisy and messy

Well this ^^ really?

Too messy for you but ok for them?

VivaLeBeaver Sat 20-Jul-13 10:59:45

Oh ok, didn't think about windows been open this time of year?

Would a lot of dust really go out of your flat window and into another flat window though? Surely it's more likely to be dispersed on the breeze?

MaeMobley Sat 20-Jul-13 11:03:03

YABU. In this weather, it must be hell for them. I think offering to get their flats cleaned is small gesture that would not cost too much in the grand scheme of things.

ubik Sat 20-Jul-13 11:03:26

It's the perils of living in a flat.

Sure make all the communal areas good again, clean windows...but pay to have their flats cleaned??? No Way.

primallass Sat 20-Jul-13 11:04:55

You have to live with them so I would do it.

LookMaw Sat 20-Jul-13 11:06:03

I feel sorry for them tbh, especially if any of them have kids. 6 weeks living on a building site, probably unable to open their windows in the height of summer. All for a box of chocolates and a 'sorry' as you scarper away somewhere quieter.

sounds like my idea of hell.

taleteller Sat 20-Jul-13 11:07:35

Your builders should definitely be keeping the communal areas hoovered each day and moving their rubbish. We would never have got away with that when renovating our first floor flat in London.

You make it sound like you are doing them a favour by cleaning the communal areas properly at the end of the work - I would think it is the least you should do - and it should be redecorated if your builders have made it dirty, marked the walls etc.

As far as cleaning the neighbours flats goes though I don't think you are obliged to do that. It is up to you how much you want to maintain a good relationship with them. I would stall them and say you will think about it as if you agree to that then they may well think they can keep asking for more - landscaping work or something!

happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 11:09:18

I will add, it's not that we don't want to live there at the moment - it's a complete renovation with all rooms being gutted so there is no bathroom/kitchen/bedrooms. Even if we didn't have a 1 year old we couldn't even camp there! It really isn't a case of 'well we don't want to but tough luck on you' approach from us.

Because it's quite substantial, the dust is spreading and getting into their flats. Yes it is hot, and how annoying to be able to keep your windows open for the mess and dust, but I would ask if anyone else would plan their house buying around the time of year and weather for this reason? In all honesty?

I think my biggest frustration is that we are trying to do all the things we would expect if the situation is reversed, but I think it was highly rude to be told what they 'deserve'! Manners and pleasantries cost nothing, even if you are stating how disruptive and annoying it is! It's just not the way to behave and imo, not condusive to getting what you want cleverly out of a situation!

Thanks for the comments so far.

Teeb Sat 20-Jul-13 11:09:21

Yabu, you are the cause of a horrible environment that they have to live in for nearly two months but you get to leave the situation while they are left there with the noise and mess. If rather have peace and pleasant enjoyment of my home during one if the hottest summers on record than a box of chocolates.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sat 20-Jul-13 11:10:39

I lived in a ground floor flat whilst two of the upstairs flats were gutted and refurbished. It was hell. The noise was unbearable (and I was working nights and pregnant and couldn't sleep). So I have total sympathy for your neighbours. You're not the ones having to put up with it.

happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 11:11:01

One neighbour is a tenant works full time and long hours (he's fairly happy), the other is retired and has been present (not happy). The most unhappiness strangely has come from the landlord of the tenant who doesn't even live there...

FasterStronger Sat 20-Jul-13 11:11:23

I would look at the cost of a full clean. it might be worth it to keep them happy.

limitedperiodonly Sat 20-Jul-13 11:11:44

Depends whether you've made a mess of their flats. Ask them to show you.

My neighbour was renovating his house which caused soot to come out of my unused fire place. He paid to have the carpet cleaned. He wasn't doing me a favour, he'd damaged my property, albeit unintentionally.

I was prepared to be what you might call demanding. In fact I was initially very annoyed. Luckily for me he's a good neighbour. His builders swept the front and back of my house every day and cleaned the windows when they'd finished the whole job.

Your builders should be cleaning up and disposing of rubbish at the end of every day. Rubbish left neatly outside during the day would be fine with me but I'd be very pissed off if it was left.

I can see both sides tbh...if I were you I would resent the 'deserve' suggestion too, but it is horrendous living with building work. Put the cost of cleaning their flats into context though, it will be what, maybe £30 per flat so £150? I know it's on top of cleaning hallway/windows etc but as a % of your budget it's probably not huge and in the long run, if it means not having to live with resentful neighbours when you move in, it's probably worth swallowing it.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sat 20-Jul-13 11:12:12

Oh, and the builders hoovered the communal areas every day, you should be doing the same.

SolomanDaisy Sat 20-Jul-13 11:13:48

You should definitely pay. I'd be thoroughly fed up, in this weather keeping windows closed or having dust everywhere are not good options. Tiny amount of money to spend to compensate them. You're going to have to live with these people.

happyfrogger Sat 20-Jul-13 11:14:01

Ok - so if IABU, what would you FAIRLY and reasonably expect as a neighbour besides regular contact & updates, offer for communal cleaning and window cleaning and general goodwill gestures?

What would make you not be rude to your fellow neighour?

And realistically, 'not doing the work' or 'doing it at a different time of year' is not an option - it also our home and we are trying to get work finished before our baby is due very soon!

Thanks

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