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Builder's workshop & business in next door residential house

(16 Posts)
DrDr9 Tue 01-Apr-14 00:00:29

I hope someone can help point me in the right direction as to how to get more information (anonymously) on our legal standing here...

We've just moved into a terraced house and discovered that the adjoining house is not used at all as a residential property. It is used to store builder's materials and as a builder's workshop. The noise is unbearable as they use the garden to grind metal, saw, hammer etc. There are also around 5 to 10 men at a time working and talking (swearing!) loudly.

They don't work weekends or before 8am or after 6pm. But... It's just that I work from home and the noise is stressful and disrupts my own practice (psychotherapy).

We will approach the builders to see if there's any room for negotiation their end. But it would be so helpful to know what the legal standing might be from both sides.

The worry is that this level of noise will be on-going for as long as we live here as the noise is not at all improvement or renovation of the next door property. It is a business that might continue generating industrial-level noise in a residential area. A further concern is that this business has presumably been going on for some time and makes us wonder why other neighbours (or the people we bought our property from) haven't done something about it? Perhaps nothing can be done legally?

Any knowledge / advice on where to go for anonymous legal assistance would be appreciated.

Thymeout Thu 03-Apr-14 13:19:32

I'd get in touch with your local planning dept. If it's a residential property they should have got permission to change its use. Neighbours would have got notification to enable them to object. If they haven't got permission, they would have to apply and, if it is refused, they can be forced to stop using the premises for a commercial concern.

confusedaboutparenting Thu 03-Apr-14 21:17:23

Try and google the address, it may possibly tell you if there is a business registered there, it would not be the first time a house have been re purposed as a business premises

UnexpectedItemInShaggingArea Thu 03-Apr-14 22:49:14

Have you bought or do you rent? If you bought this should probably have come up in searches/been disclosed by the sellers.

mysteryfairy Fri 04-Apr-14 21:10:38

You're running a business from a residential home too? What process have you followed to allow you to do that? Can you check if next door have done the same?

DrDr9 Sat 05-Apr-14 10:28:50

Thanks to everyone for their replies. I have had some legal advice...

Firstly, you do not necessarily need legal permission to work from home. It is different if you haven’t changed the character of your house (i.e. It is primarily a house where you sleep & live). However, the builders have had a ‘change of use’ of the original residential purpose (i.e. they use it only for storage and as a workshop). See: The piece of law that applies in terms of builders is: Town and Country Planning Act 1990: Section 191 as amended by section 10 of the Planning and Compensation Act 1991.

The council has confirmed that the house in question in designated a residential dwelling. If not used at all as this, the builders are in breach of planning law. Local authorities can take enforcement action and put this to a halt. The worrying thing is that there are time limits within which local planning authorities can take planning enforcement action against breaches of planning control. For a business (such as next door) the time limit is 10 years from the date the breach of planning control was committed. Since we’ve just moved in, I have no idea how long they’ve been operating for.

Thanks for the helpful comment about going to conveyancing solicitor about the vendors responses to enquiries when we bought the house. It is my current understanding that if the builders have been in operation for some time, the vendors had an obligation to tell us. They did not and I will be enquiring if we can take this further.

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has had any experiences such a) dealing with vendors who gave wrong / incomplete information in legal documentation; and b) dealing with councils when there has been a breach of a planning condition.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sat 05-Apr-14 10:31:58

If the vendors both worked out if the house, they might not have known. Unlikely but possible.

DrDr9 Sat 05-Apr-14 10:46:37

Yes - unlikely. They had a newborn and so expect at least one of them would have spent some time at home. They themselves only owned the property for a short period of time.

OnGoldenPond Sat 05-Apr-14 10:55:02

Yes sounds like the previous owners cleared out quickly when they moved in and were faced with the noise and decided to pass the problem on to you.

Even if the time limit for the council to take action for breach of planning laws I would have thought they could take action for causing noise nuisance? There is usually a separate dept in the council who deal with this.

voiceofgodot Sat 05-Apr-14 10:55:27

They themselves only owned the property for a short period of time.

hmm Sounds like they knew exactly what they were doing, and perhaps moved in unaware like you just did, and have now passed the problem onto someone else. Terrible.

DrDr9 Sat 05-Apr-14 11:52:09

From my conversations with the council, it doesn't seem like 'the noise team' will take any action as the noise does not take place outside certain hours. When I argue that industrial-level noise is likely to go on many times a week for many years, they say that it's then a planning issue and not something they deal with. Again, if anyone has successfully contested something similar it would be great to hear how you did it.

foxinsocks Sat 05-Apr-14 12:15:30

Hi drdr9

poor you, I have great sympathy for your situation. I also think the people who sold the house to you knew about this and that is the angle I would pursue legally.

we had a similar situation though it wasn't next door. We live in a cul de sac and a man operated a car repair business out of his house. Parking is v difficult around here anyway and he would take up every single space with his dead cars and do things like welding in the street which I always thought was dangerous. It was very noisy. Also this is terraced London housing. There are no front gardens. The front of the houses are virtually on the street if that makes sense.

I wrote to the council who have quoted exactly the same points as you have heard. I never gave up and kept on writing. One of my issues was how dangerous it was to children in the street. The man that ran it was elderly and I was seriously concerned he would hurt himself let alone anyone else.

The council refused to do anything.

Then one day, there was a fire. The old man had 'forgotten' he was welding a car that had a full petrol tank. The car exploded. The car was parked in the road but it was so intense, it destroyed all the cars parked at the end of the street and spread to 2 houses. He ran away into his house and the fire trapped him in there and he died. 2 people's houses were basically destroyed. The firemen would not go near the fire because of the gas cannisters and we were not allowed back from almost 48 hours.

After all of this had calmed down, someone from the fire brigade came and spoke to me. I told him I had written to the council and nothing had been done. He said they have a major issue with people using gas cannisters for things like welding in residential areas. He said if anything like this ever happens again to call the fire brigade and alert them to the issue as they have the ability to put some pressure on the council if they feel there is a risk.

I don't know if they are welding next door but it might be worth keeping an eye on the garden to see if they are. Or ask the fire brigade about fire risk to your property.

There was talk, though i dont know how it was resolved, about people's insurances refusing to pay out because it was not noted that they lived next to a 'garage' and I think you need to consider things like insurance risk too.

DoItTooJulia Sat 05-Apr-14 12:20:32

Your noise team are wrong. Very wrong.

The Environmental Protection Act deals with Statutory Nuisance, which can happen at any time of day or night and is considered a Nusiance if it materially affects the enjoyment of your dwelling. There are lots of things the LA can do wrt the noise. Do not be fobbed off, pm me for more info if you like.

DoItTooJulia Sat 05-Apr-14 12:20:58

Foxinsocks, how awful.

notapizzaeater Sat 05-Apr-14 12:23:56

Have you spoken to your solicitor to check what the vendors did actually put ?

DrDr9 Sat 05-Apr-14 19:40:46

Thanks again, All. Julia, I will PM you soon on the LA side of things. Thanks for the offer. And what a terrible story, Foxinsocks!

Notapizzaeater, The vendors answered 'No' on the legal form TA6 for items:

2.1:Have their been any disputes for this property or a property nearby?
2.2: Is the seller aware of anything that will lead to a dispute of this property or a property nearby?
3.1: Have any notices been received or sent (e.g. from or to a neighbour, council or government department) concerning the property or a property nearby?

Any comments or insights appreciated!

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