Nasty neighbours(44 Posts)
Very long post alert!!
I have namechanged for this as I have also posted on childminding site on Facebook and it is very outing (I am a childminder).
In December 2018 we had new neighbours (the house used to belong to my mother and father in law), from day one they have caused a nuisance. We have a shared drive (the only access to my house) and they blocked it for 48 hours with 2 big removal vans. We had solar panels installed in January and they were abusive to the work men. They’ve hammered on the door whilst I was working hurling abuse at me (and swearing) because they said the workmen I had were aggressive. A complete lie as the guys that were working were father and son, whose wife/mum was a childminder. They were so polite and respectful, were happy to answer the children’s questions and let them watch etc.
Fast forward to a fortnight ago, we had lights fitted along the access drive (their property) whilst it was still my husband parents property. This was more to keep my eldest children safe (21 & 18) when they came home late as we live in the countryside and the street lights are turned off at midnight). Two weeks ago the new house owners removed them. We sent them a message saying that if they were no longer needed could we please have them back so we can fit them onto our property. We got a recorded delivery letter 3 days later saying that it was their wall and they bought the house including fixtures and fittings so they can do with them which they so wish blah blah blah. Then they went on to say that anything else on that wall that used to belong to us is now their property and if we want it back we have 7 days to put it in writing, and then they’ll decide if we can have it or not 🙄
Today (yesterday I suppose), we had another letter through stating that I have 14 days to cease trading as it is in the covenant that no kind of business whatsoever is to be run from my premises 😢😫 and that we didn’t ask for permission (as should be sought by the covenant) to have the solar panels installed so we have to remove them to??
Now I know that childminding isn’t the same as running a business, it’s working from home but after a phone call to the solicitors, they might have a point because it says no kind of business at all. It’s taken me 9 years to build my reputation, I have 20 children on my books and an assistant! I absolutely love my job with every fibre of my being! I live in a small town and I’m very well respected, I have a waiting list as do most of my fellow Childminder’s in my area as there simply isn’t enough childcare provision as it is! What the hell do I do??
My husband has an appointment at the solicitors in the morning but I’m not sure what good it will do! 😩
Sorry for rambling and thank you if you got this far, I have nobody else I can talk to in the small hours of the morning! — ￼feeling devastated.
Also we’ve never caused them any trouble, if anything we’ve tried to go out of our way to be neighbourly as they are new to the area. They 100% knew that I was a Childminder before they moved in as the lady spent an hour with me before they moved in, she even said how handy it was to have a childminder on her doorstep as she has 3 small children 😑
They sound a nightmare. I know a childminder near me that had this and that was partly because she was kind of running a large chilminding business from her house. Not sure how she was able to but loads of kids coming and going. It was in a residential property and her neighbours all got hacked off eventually.
You'll certainly need proper legal advice but can you look to having the covenant removed if you've be trading for so long without objection.
No way of, you know, having a conversation with them? Are they unapproachable? If you have an assistant and her place of work is your house it could be difficult as that sort of verges on the business being a business so to speak.
If the kids are noisy it could be a case of they moved their with peace and quite being important and are using the covenant as they see fit. Its more likely they're just being arsey, so I'm just playing devil's advocate but its possible.
If it is clearly stated in the covenant then you really should have got insurance beforehand that would cover you for any damages arising from this kind of challenge to a covenant. You won't have to stop trading but you could end up having to compensate them for breach of the covenant which although unfair they would have a right to challenge you for.
Most people are reasonable if spoken with directly. Letters and messages are so impersonal especially if you're only neighbours. Worst case that can happen is you'll know where you stand and what their intentions are.
I hope so, it was my husbands parents that originally put the covenant in. They would remover in a heartbeat if they could but I think the laws have changed so if the covenant has been there long enough it can't be removed
They are completely unapproachable, we've tried a couple of times, even offering to help move their rubbish to the tip, we just get the door slammed in our face.
Honestly we cause zero noise pollution. They met my assistant before they moved in too so they knew what they were doing.
Also, we went to the solicitors to seek insurance 3 days ago when they started being more difficult. The insurance was to take affect from next Monday 😑 too late now!
Do they have the right to enforce the covenant? That is usually between the original venfor and buyer and would be none of their business.
We were told that the only people who can enforce the covenant were the people who established it (the right to enforce doesn't transfer with ownership). It's designed to protect the interest of the person selling the land for instance - in this case your parents. As the covenant on our houseware established in 1929 we were told that as that person will be dead its unenforceable (also no business)
They are probably right on both counts. I imagine your house is very noisy when you are childminding.
They sound painful. I’ve had neighbours that made our lives unbearable and we had to move house in the end.
What I learnt is that you can’t reason with people like that. You can’t change their opinions or bring them round to your way of thinking. You can only control what you do about it all.
I think when they moved in, you should have been prepared for the fact that their drive might have been blocked and your access restricted. That’s part of moving. It’s very difficult.
I also think you were unreasonable to ask for the lights back. They are right in that they bought the lights when they bought the property. It is annoying when you move into a new house and the neighbours are noticing and disapproving of changes you make. And it’s worse in this case as the house was in your family before.
If you have 20 children on the books, surely that's a small nursery rather than a childminder?
They are right about the lights too. You don't have any come back on a property you've sold, and they must be wondering whether every time they do anything to the property you're going to be interfering.
There's quite a lot that they're right about. Removal van blocking the drive would be fairly standard and I'd expect that when a family moves in depending on road set up.
Your workmen were probably lovely to you, you're paying, but you're naive to assume they would be equally polite to neighbours. The covenant is an issue so it's fair for them to raise it. The lights were on their property so they would assume possession - it's a fair assumption and would have been included as fixtures in the purchase documents unless specified otherwise.
I appreciate it's feeling unfair but they've not done much wrong from an outsider's viewpoint.
What Brahumbug and Anniehm have said about the covenant. Our house had lots of covenants dating back nearly 100 years when we bought it. We did buy some kind of covenant insurance, but were advised by our solicitor that only the people who had put the covenants in place (and their descendants) could object anyway if any of the covenants were broken. If it was definitely your In-Laws who put the covenants in place, then you shouldn't have a problem.
I really don't think it's helpful to make confident statements of the law to the OP. Enforcement of covenants is a specialised area of law and no lawyer would give an opinion without at least knowing which jurisidiction the OP is in and seeing exactly how the covenant is drafted. Restrictive covenants can run with the land and be enforced by successors in title, depending on the circumstances and on the face of it there's no obvious reason why that wouldn't be the case here. Anyway the OP is getting legal advice and so far that seems to suggest she is bound.
It sounds horrible.
You have no claim to the lights and if you're running a business from a home with a covenant saying no business to be run, then that's quite hard to argue against.
It was a bit cheeky to ask for the lights back to be honest.
Just had a quick Google. Did you know you need permission from your mortgage lender to run a business from your home?
Seems your ndn would need to prove to a court your business was causing them more than a mere nuisance before you would have to cease.
*not a legal rep, just an avid Googler!
Oops, hit post too soon! It sounds a dreadful situation going forward OP.
AFAIU, the covenants are for the benefit or the original owners so you should be okay there - but as your DH is meeting the solicitor that should be confirmed fingers crossed. Try not to worry too much in the meantime.
I think my sympathy is with the neighbours. The lights are theirs and I'd hate to live next to a busy childminders. The noise must be horrendous.
AFAIU, the covenants are for the benefit or the original owners so you should be okay there will people please stop repeating this, it's really not helpful to give dodgy legal opinions on threads. The OP is getting legal advice but other people might read it and get the wrong idea. Assuming the OP is in England (and she hasn't said as far as I can see) then the covenant might well be enforceable by the neighbours. The fact that other covenants aren't enforceable e.g. because they are positive rather than restrictive or drafted in personal terms, doesn't mean that this one isn't. As far as I remember from property law, the summary here is about right. As you can see it's complicated and dependent on the particular circumstances. Given that the OP says after a phone call to the solicitors, they might have a point because it says no kind of business at all then it does look as if there is a genuine concern but the OP is doing the sensible thing and getting professional advice on that. It's really not helpful to suggest that there is no problem.
I have to be honest OP, I am kind of siding with the neighbours on this one.
Surely it's standard to have removal vans on the driveway when they were moving in?
They are absolutely right about the lights (they bought them when they bought the property), although it would have been nice to give them back to you, but they may already have disposed of them.
I think it's naïve to assume that your workmen were are nice to them as they were to you (their customer)
If I bought a house in a rural setting (as yours seems to be), I may have checked the covenant before I purchased to ensure that I would have quiet enjoyment of my house. And after I moved in, I would be very, very unhappy if I was living next door to a nursery (which with 20 children it essentially is). Not only having to put up with the noise of 20 children, but, up to, 20 cars in the morning & the same in the evening to pick up their children.
I think you may be have been spoiled having lived next door to family.
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