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to think my neighbour and my local council are totally over-reacting?

(29 Posts)
Helenagrace Thu 04-Aug-11 23:17:11

Back story - we're away at the moment. I left a key with a neighbour so they could check my house over.

He called on Monday to say that the alarm had gone off in the early hours. He had been over to check the house and reset the alarm but it went off again a few hours later during the morning. He called and I said to turn it off and leave it off. It went off again (we think there's a fault with the battery as it goes off if the alarm has no power - apparently we can't over-ride this). We thought that was the end of it but it went off again on Tuesday at 6am, even those it wasn't actually set. My neighbour went back in on Tuesday evening and disconnected the battery and the power supply and it hasn't gone off since. So in total it has gone off four times in 48 hours and it rings for 12 minutes each time.

Today I've apparently had a visit from environmental health demanding access to my property. My neighbour went over to the house but didn't let them in as he hadn't spoken to me. Another neighbour has made a complaint today (even though the alarm hasn't actually gone off for 48 hours). They are demanding access to my home to inspect my alarm. I have said no as I'm not there and won't be until Sunday as I'm on holiday. Apparently environmental health are not happy about this. Apparently if I don't allow them access they will obtain a court order to enter my property. I'm sure that will obviously be a priority for the Saturday magistrates sitting ... er not.

AIBU to think I have done everything that I could have done to minimise the disruption? I left a key with a neighbour, instructed him to turn the alarm off and then to disable the alarm when it continued to go off. The alarm is faulty. It has been serviced within the last year. I bet most people would have gone on holiday for a fortnight and just left the alarm to go off for days on end because no one would have a key to get in and turn it off.

Ok I admit it's not very nice to be woken up by someones's house alarm in the middle of the night but it's not like it's a dodgy alarm. This doesn't usually happen.

I'm not BU am I?

LineRunner Thu 04-Aug-11 23:19:27

No; but you should ring or email Env Health tomorrow morning to tell them what steps you have taken to be reasonable.

mummymeister Thu 04-Aug-11 23:24:06

As an ex EHO who had to deal with alarms and the problems they caused i have every sympathy with your neighbours and the Council. whilst realising it isnt your fault, faulty alarms are a nightmare if you live near them - they also clearly tell the burglar that you are not home putting your house at greater risk. it is the law that you have a key holder within 20 mins of your alarm - other people do not get away with it either. however you could consider changing to a remote monitored alarm rather than using a neighbour as a keyholder. And sorry - it is something that magistrates grant warrants of entry for - i know i have executed loads of them in the past. don't rely on neighbours as key holders in future and tell the council this is what you intend to do. now the alarm is off they won't execute entry but if it re-starts again then they will. they do not need you or anyone else there to do this if they have a warrant of entry. hope you get it sorted not just now but for the future.

Helenagrace Fri 05-Aug-11 00:01:00

But I do have a key holder within 20 minutes - my neighbour. Each time the alarm has gone off he has gone over and dealt with it. The maximum it could have gone off for at any one time is 12 minutes. The alarm is monitored remotely so I get a message when it goes off. The control room cannot cancel the alarm though, so I still need a local keyholder.

I am aware that it is possible that they could be granted a warrant. I don't think that they would be able to get one for an alarm that isn't going off and hasn't done so for 48 hours. So why threaten me with that?

I am not refusing them entry. They won't email me to say that they are responsible for any damage they do in my property so I am insisting on being there if they're going to walk around my home. I don't want to ask my neighbour to babysit the EHO and anyway they can't view the service record for the alarm as it's locked in the filing cabinet and the key is with me.

There is currently no problem with the alarm so they can visit my home on Monday.

My key holder neighbour has explained to the nearby neighbours that the problem has been sorted so one of them is just causing trouble.

It's the official attitude I have a problem with. I am a law-abiding citizen, with a problem which I have done my level best to deal with quickly and yet I am still being threatened by an official on some kind of power trip.

Obviously I'm now expecting the same scale response when my neighbours next go away and leave their two teenage children to have a weekend long party...

Scuttlebutter Fri 05-Aug-11 00:06:34

OP, do you have ANY idea how annoying/distressing/upsetting it is to have an alarm going for twelve minutes? Especially in the middle of the night and especially if this happens multiple times.

My sympathies are entirely with your neighbours and I'm glad your Council is responding so robustly on this issue.

And I doubt very much that the EHO is on a "power trip". They are rightly responding to complaints from people who have had their sleep and peace repeatedly disrupted.

BeStillMyBeatingFart Fri 05-Aug-11 00:10:54

Nah, not really unreasonable.

A loud alarm at 6am is pretty annoying!! People want/need sleep!

Remember the late 90s when almost everyone owned cars with alarms which were set off by a cat walking by? <Shudder>

It would drive me barmy to be next door to that! And ouse alarms are LOUD!!!

BBQFrenzy Fri 05-Aug-11 00:17:20

Helena Are the neighbours continuing to complain 48 hours later the ones with the teenage DCs who have parties when their parents are away? If so I hope the parents have briefed DCs on kettles, pots and their uncanny similarities before they set off on holiday.

Helenagrace Fri 05-Aug-11 00:21:41

Yes I do realise that it is annoying if an alarm goes off. I've just checked with the monitoring company. The times it went off were

Monday 06.34am 4 minutes
Monday 11.22am 2 minutes
Tuesday 06.27am 5 minutes
Tuesday 10.19am 6 minutes

So we're not talking about an alarm that goes off every few minutes all night.

It hasn't gone off since Tuesday.

It is serviced properly and it rarely goes off. It's faulty. I've done everything I can.

Why can't people accept that sometimes something just goes wrong?

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 05-Aug-11 00:27:20

Why can't you accept that an alarm that goes off at around 6.30 am on two consecutive mornings isn't going to annoy people?

Yes, things sometimes do go wrong, but that does not mean that your neighbours or your council are over-reacting.

If I'd been woken two mornings running by your alarm I would be livid too!

Helenagrace Fri 05-Aug-11 00:53:13

We genuinely thought we'd solved the problem on Monday night. We all thought the alarm was switched off.

I do accept that consecutive morning disturbances is unacceptable. But why complain 48 hours later when nothing has happened for 48 hours and why would an EHO take such a heavy handed approach when the issue hasn't been an issue for over 48 hours?

You do all know that this is an accident don't you? I didn't make the alarm go off deliberately?

If it was still going off every morning I wouldn't be posting because clearly I would be being completely unreasonable.

I have no idea if it is the neighbours with the all weekend party. I suspect it is the guy whose son's faulty car alarm goes off for few seconds when his son unlocks his car at 6.45 every morning as he also has the parking enforcement people on speed dial and objected to our extension on the grounds that there were too many 4 bed houses in our road already. I'll never know.

Birdsgottafly Fri 05-Aug-11 01:14:00

TBH i don't understand why you wouldn't let them inspect the alarm. If it goes off again, surely it would be ignored, as your neighbours would think that it was faulty again, so having it switched on is no longer a deterrent.

I agree that they are very zealous where you live, we have had empty privately rented house alarms, going off night after night, for weeks.

It is obviously the neighbour with an axe to grind, which is something that you will have to let go, come home and make your conversation about your wonderful holiday.

Andrewofgg Fri 05-Aug-11 07:41:30

Frankly, OP, if domestic burglar alarms (or car alarms) were a new invention they would never be allowed to start. They are an infernal nuisance and that is the long and the short of it. They reduce the exposure of the insurance companies at the cost of neighbours' amenity.

So while I sympathise personally, more power to the EHO's elbow.

TheSkiingGardener Fri 05-Aug-11 07:47:53

I don't think you are being unreasonable at all. You have done everything you can and got the alarm dealt with in a reasonable time. EH should listen to what you've done and accept that the problem is now dealt with. They should reserve entry warrants for when the problem ISN'T dealt with surely.

sundayrose10 Fri 05-Aug-11 07:49:34

I don't think you're being unreasonable op, shit happens. Do not let them in your home until you return.

ZillionChocolate Fri 05-Aug-11 08:06:10


What law says you have to have a key holder within 20 minutes?

LoveBeingAtHomeOnMyOwn Fri 05-Aug-11 08:09:11

I don't see a problem tbh.

In fact mine goes off when I get up some days as either still asleep and forget about it or dd gets to the door first!

Oh and the eho who lives next door but one to my mum has the worst record for noise in her street thanks to the parties his dcs have everytime he goes away and his dd's by car!

ballstoit Fri 05-Aug-11 08:12:21've done everything you can, and the problem is sorted. Neighbours with an axe to grind are no fun...but you will never satisfy them and might as well give up trying to.

I hope the court do no issue a warrant in these circumstances.

Lucyinthepie Fri 05-Aug-11 08:55:14

The problems with the alarm have been dealt with. They were not significant problems, it went off just 4 times, the shortest period of time it was sounding was for 2 minutes, and the longest was only 6 minutes. Op is happy to show Environmental Health around the house on Monday. So I don't think she is being unreasonable at all.

I think an alarm going off for an hour is an "infernal nuisance", one going off for 5 minutes hardly merits that description.

flyingspaghettimonster Fri 05-Aug-11 10:09:30

how would other neighbours know the problem was dealt with? Their complaints seem entirely reasonable, I would feel pretty murderous if an alarm woke me two mornings is a row, then woke my baby from morning nap as well...I think the response was acceptable and would be appreciated if you had been on the receiving end of the alarm noise...

Helenagrace Fri 05-Aug-11 14:50:25

Well the sound of furious back pedalling from the council now. Apparently they are now satisfied with the action we've taken, accept that we've done all that we can and the lady I spoke to actually said she wished more people arranged key holders before going on holiday.

Not sure what to think now. I've gone from being a criminal to saint in the space of a few hours.

Pendeen Fri 05-Aug-11 15:12:46

The council officer has acted properly, presumably the (previous?) officer who suggested court action has been taken to one side and gently advised of the difference between legal rights and and common sense.

I agree that house and car alarms can be a real nuisance when owners are not as sensible as you.

bugsylugs Fri 05-Aug-11 15:53:58

YANBU, mind you think many of the posters on here have been. I bet most have let an alarm/ car alarm off, slammed doors shouted, had children screaming / laughing in the garden. played music or had the radio on with doors/ windows open or even in the garden. Maybe they even have a dog that goes out and barks. YES all of these and more can be annoying but response here OTT.

Glad you have one good neighbour and mine so far are great. Shame about our local noisy dogs and sheep but hey hoo thats life

Catslikehats Fri 05-Aug-11 16:02:44


Iritating as it might be for an alarm to go off for a few minutes on two consecutive mornings it hardly necessitates a court order to access your home in your absence, particularly when i) you have presumably told EH that you will be home in X days and ii) theer is no longer a problem and I cannot believe anyone would suggest such an approach is appropriate confused

RevoltingPeasant Fri 05-Aug-11 16:04:31

OP I am not a big fan of neighbour noise, to put it mildly, but I think YANBU in this case. You did do everything you could, and sometimes, mechanical things just break.

IIWY, though, when I got back I'd sent a little card to all the neighbours within about 3-4 doors apologising for any inconvenience and explaining that you took prompt steps. That should defuse any remaining bad feeling. I know it's not necessary, but it'd be a small gesture to show neighbourliness.

Anyone who complains after that is an arse.

Catslikehats Fri 05-Aug-11 16:05:12

And there is no way that magistrates would grant a warrant to enter premises where an alarm had gone off for a total of 17 minutes in a 5 day period. Absurd.

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