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.
I have to say that I agree with Houseofgoldandbones and motherofdragons. I did think it might be a reverse at first but I'm guessing it's not from your later posts. I could certainly imagine the neighbour getting a lot of sympathy here if she posted her side of the story for the reasons above. You also seem to be very dismissive of her concern that the workmen were aggressive to her. Saying that she was a liar because 'the guys that were working were father and son, whose wife/mum was a childminder' doesn't really make much sense. If they were aggressive and then you dismissed her like that, it was probably the catalyst for them refusing to engage directly and sending recorded letters instead. I can see that it's a stressful situation and it must be extremely worrying to have everything you've worked for at risk but it sounds to me as if there has probably been fault from both sides. I hope that you can do something to salvage the relationship as it's going to be really difficult if you are neighbours in the long term.
In my council, it depends if you have an assistant you become a business. So get onto yours and see what's what.
Some councils let you have one assistant.
You are working from home if you're a Childminder, assistants change that.
Oh dear, the whole thing sounds a mess which has gone nuclear. I think that if the relationship has truly broken down then you need to rely on the law to get you through, and hope you can find a way through the law to make sure you’re on the right side of it.
It does sound like you have an extended sense of ownership over land and property that you don’t have any rights or ownership over. It must be strange to let go of something that has been in the family for at least two generations, but you have to understand that you don’t own it anymore.
I suspect that you’ve made your neighbours feel very uncomfortable with this attitude, and threatened, as you’ve kept laying claim to their home that they’ve bought and paid for! It’s not an excuse for the aggression and rudeness but it’s certainly an explanation.
If you threaten people where it really counts (home, family, life or limb!).... they tend to defend themselves vigorously.
I hope you manage to get yourselves get of this pickle. I’d stop ‘right-fighting’ and try to gain insight. Face up to the reality of how you got here, with problems from both sides, and most importantly, where you go from here.
Having 20 children on my books doesn't mean that I have 20 children here at once. The children range from 1yr to 10yrs, I only ever have a maximum of 6 children here at any one time. There is absolutely no noise disturbance to them as there's at least 50 feet from our house to theirs.
And we don't have a mortgage, we own our house.
You really have to check also about this 'no buiness use' at the property. Often this means that nobody can get an official change of use to include business use as well as residential included in the planning. You're still allowed to do business work at a resisential property. For example if you were a self employed plumber you'd still sit on your phone or laptop in the house while sending invoices and receipts, so while technically they're conducting business activities they aren't using the actual property for business purposes. Your problem would be as i said if your assistant's place of work is listed as your address it might be tricky If you can bring yourself to eat humble pie, a letter of apology maybe if they felt offended by the workmen?
We've tried to both apologise in person (door slammed in face) and sent a written apology which has been ignored. We've had a letter to say that if we pay them £250 we can keep the solar panels. I think if we offered them a large sum of money they would turn a blind eye to my childminding too as the wording on the letter was something like "would maybe be able to come to a financial arrangement ."
They knew what I did before they bought the house and the amount of children I have. The lady sat with us for an hour whilst her husband had some things to take care of in town. She went on at how lovely it would be if her boys could come here and what a nurturing environment it was.
Neither of them work, they bought the house as cash buyers (large old 5 bed Victorian house).
A part of me is worried that they are a pair of con artists and if we pay them off, this won't be the end.
Don't pay them any money.
Get legal advice and stick to it.
What is the issue with the solar panels- is it also a covenant issue or that that you needed planning permission for them? Either way, paying off the neighbours will not not resolve the issue, it will only open you up to more requests for money. If it is a planning issue talk to the council- I'm not a planning expert but have just built a house and was advised that planning permission for things like solar panels (that are usually allowed under permitted development) would be granted without issue down the line.
I was told by the planning department once that childminding (if you don't have an assistant) is not considered a business anymore than office based work check with your childmind association (its changed names now?) she would have difficulty continuing this & boy would it cost her - try CAB
So what did the solicitors advise your husband?
Bloody hell 6 kids with parents conning and going over a shared access and you think they are the ones with the problem 😂
The lights do belong to them. If I moved into what seemed a quiet location with no business signage then discovered there were up to 20 small children coming and going, in cars presumably and early mornings too, I’d be very cheesed off too. Did your in-laws disclose that before they bought the house? Even if they mentioned you were a childminder, to me that would suggest single figure children, not 20, that’s a small private nursery.
I can see their point of view, sorry.
Sorry, just seen your update so not sure where that leaves you. You really shouldn’t be peeved about the lights though, all of the fixtures and fittings belong to them.
Don't apologise any more. Yes, you were wrong to put lights on their property but I don't think they're going to be able to enforce you to cease trading - and I'm guessing since it's your livelihood that's the most important.
Only deal with them through solicitors, do not fall victim to blackmail
I wouldn’t take any of this advice re legalisties at face value. Restrictive covenants can sometime be in rem rather than personam. It depends really on how it’s drafted, registered, jurisdiction etc. I hope this gets sorted out. I appreciate that living next door to a childminder would be a pain but the solar pannel thing suggests they’re just causing trouble.
Fgs don’t start giving them any money! I do think it was weird that you expected them to give you the solar lights though... that was clearly part of the fixtures and fittings. Sounds like things got off on the wrong foot with you staking a claim on a property which is nothing to do with you any more.
Once it was sold you needed to mentally let go.
No idea about the covenant and whether the childminding would constitute a business. You need proper legal advice on that. Having 20 kids on the books and employing an assistant certainly sounds a different arrangement from your average childminder.
I cannot honestly believe that you sent them email to ask if you could have the lights back... that is beyond ridiculous.
Also are you being totally honest in the zero noise pollution comment? I would imagine having enough children being minded that you need an assistant would cause noise... also parents dropping off/picking up... do they block neighbours access?
I have a next door neighbour who runs a business from home it's a massive source of annoyance for me. Yes we knew he did it when we bought the house but the nature of his business has changed in the 10 years we've been here - when we first moved in he worked out of the home now he works at home most of the day banging & clattering with vehicles up & down constantly. Were you a smaller business when they moved in?
Hi OP, I'm a cm too, totally understand that having 20 kids on your books does NOT mean they are all these at once.
Are you a member of pacey ? I would get some legal advice from them.
For what it's worth, I am a very busy cm and have zero problems with my neighbours. I am out with the children during the day, back after school run, and they've all gone home by 6p.m.. my neighbours would much rather have me next door than people who are noisy in the evening/through the night.
But definitely get some legal advice. Good luck x
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