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Myself and children harrassed by pensioner neighbour~will the police laugh it off?

(38 Posts)
plinkduet Thu 04-Aug-11 12:16:02

I live in a small terrace with communal path leading to my house at the end and no fence boundaries between houses, so the path to mine and my neighbour's front door is effectively shared I guess.

She owns her house, I rent privately. She is in her late 50s/early 60s I am guessing.

For the first year and half living here, all was amicable. But below lists what has occurred since, with no catalyst I can think of. But does this count as unreasonable enough behaviour to warrant taking steps forward and involving the police? ~ can it really be harrassment if it's by an old dear? hmm I think the police will just laugh it off if I ask their advice, but at this stage I believe it's the only way she will understand how anoying her behaviour has become.

She's an ex- professional Nanny so I'm surprised at her behaviour.

When my two under 4s play in the front garden, I can see them from the window but occassionally their ball will fly into her garden. I don't notice this happening. Eventually she confiscated the ball.

She also removed the eldest's scooter and put it in the skip. It's now gone, presume someone drove past and took the scooter. The scooter was used for getting to nursery and was an oldfashioned robust thing you cant buy anymore.

I received totally unexpected letter from Environmental Health that an anonymous neighbour complained I was persistently entering my attic space after midnight and making unacceptable noise. I can't get in the attic as I don't know how to put the ladder back up again, let alone after midnight with sleeping kids. I've never been up there! I think it's the stair gates, but even so with a baby I hardly bang that about at night.

This neighbour has complained to my letting agency several times that both children 'run amok' in the gardens, even when the little one hadnt started to walk yet. The eledest has perhaps twice run off down the neighbour's garden, no-one's in fenced.

If my children are playing outside in the usual manner of under 4s, I am told I 'can't keep them under control'.

Very recently she has begun leaving the house early in the morning and leaving a radio or TV on VERY loud ie it's obviously at full volume, upstairs, even as early as 5.50am, I suspect so that it wakes us all up!

Just before she got in her car one time to leave for holiday, she buzzed and buzzed my doorbell (oldfashioned 90million decibel thing) at 6am, then buggered off for three weeks so I couldnt say anthing!

She went through a short phase of buzzing the doorbell at ridiculously early times of the morning, but that's stopped since I disconnected it at night.

I live alone with my kids and hate confrontation. The scooter issue is unnacceptable really, so I have to do something about it all now.

So what do you think? Would a visit from the police enable her to see how unacceptable her actions are? Or are the police just going to think I'm exagerrating as she's a lonely old pensioner on her own, in a very respectable neighbourhood, and I'm a single parent with kids in a rented house, unemployed, I can just feel the prejudice fermenting already sad

And yes, I have talked to her once or twice about these things, but I am wary of upsetting the apple cart anymore, after all, if she can get a response frm Environmental Health without my knowledge and she clearly despairs of my parenting skills, then what's to stop her complaining to Social Services? Who knows what she's capable of.

After two years, I would say eggshells are definately beginning to line up along our communal path sad

What's the best course of action here before things get out of hand?

SuePurblybilt Thu 04-Aug-11 12:22:41

If it were me, I would move. You shouldn't have to but I couldn't live like that, it must be horrible. Could that be an option at all?

plinkduet Thu 04-Aug-11 12:32:17

I can't afford to move.

It's only at an annoying stage for me, I don't feel hugely intimidated. Everyday domestic life goes on as normal but is interspersed every couple of days with the above.

I dont like having to push the pram along the path every day though, walking right under her window waiting for curtains to twitch!

I don't know, I'm trying to be humourous about it, I'm not easily ruffled, but my daughter is heartbroken about her scooter.

Involve police or not, though? ...... hmm

Thistledew Thu 04-Aug-11 12:35:43

How do you know she put the scooter in the skip?

plinkduet Thu 04-Aug-11 12:36:42

Because she told me.

SuePurblybilt Thu 04-Aug-11 12:37:51

I don't know. I would keep a record of what goes on in case she does try to report you to someone - perhaps build up a little file so you could show what has been going on.
Aren't there mediation services available? Or perhaps that would just fan the flames.

plinkduet Thu 04-Aug-11 12:37:59

She said it was on her property (path leading to our front doors presume) and she had the right to remove it. Which is fair enough, but she could have just nudged it an inch or so to the left over the invisible boundary, not walked down ther path and put it in a skip on the road.

RustyBear Thu 04-Aug-11 12:43:01

If she's in her late fifties/early sixties she is probably not a pensioner, and certainly not an 'old dear', so why should her age matter at all?

plinkduet Thu 04-Aug-11 12:47:20

RustyBear because even at 42 I still expect my elders to set a better example of behaviour.

TuesdayMummy Thu 04-Aug-11 12:50:10

I doubt there's much the police can do since its your word against hers. Why don't you complain to your Landlord. He or she may have a relationship with her or her family & be able to have a quiet word or at least clarify the situation with the front path - maybe even put up a fence or something so everyone keeps to their own side. If you're a good, reliable, long term tenant, I'm sure your Landlord would be willing to do something to avoid you moving out because of this. (he needn't know that's not actually an option iyswim wink)

AKMD Thu 04-Aug-11 12:54:16

She sounds bonkers and that behaviour would frighten me - turning on a TV at full voume all day and going out?! I would write everything you can down, with dates and times, and go to a local community police surgery (if you have one) or to the police station if not. You never know what she could do next.

sparks Thu 04-Aug-11 12:56:38

Go to the police, they will not laugh it off. I'm not a legal bod, but all that doorbell ringing and playing loud music seems like harassment to me. Speak to the police and ask what they advise.

And just because she tells you she has a 'right' to dispose of your daughter's scooter, does not mean it is true. Does she have any legal training? hmm She knew it was your property and was deliberately provoking you and causing distress to your child. A reasonable person would have moved it to your garden or told you to come and get it.

Agree with others that her age is irrelevant. As is her former profession.

Natzer Thu 04-Aug-11 12:56:53

I suggest you get in touch with your local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) have a chat with them but be able to show them a chronology of what has gone on. There will be obligation to continue after that chat, but they will be aware so that if something worse happens they will know the history.

The other option is to ignore her completely, that's the best way to deal with bullies, she will soon get bored.

Unfortunately unless the harassment gets more serious the Police wont be able to do too much apart from chat to her and warn her not to continue, it would have to be alot more serious for anyone to be charged or go to court etc.

Because she is a homeowner she can kind of get away with alot.

I wouldn't worry about the En Health part because she would have to prove the noise before they would take any further action.

Good luck

RustyBear Thu 04-Aug-11 13:07:35

I meant, why should her age matter to the police?

Connexionsgal Thu 04-Aug-11 13:08:55

I would contact EH and invite them over re the loud noise from radio / tv. As she's not around during the day, this is unreasonable and if EH monitor this over say 2 or 3 days they will be able to do something. It's a start at least. I would contact Police over scooter theft - that's what it is! If teenagers had done that they would be taken to task, why not this lady?

Good luck.

TessOfTheDinnerbells Thu 04-Aug-11 13:10:53

Plink, not sure if this is still true of the law but years ago I had somebody leave lots of their belongings on my property, causing great inconvenience and taking up LOTS of space which I genuinely needed. I consulted a legal bod friend & was told that I couldn't just get rid of it without giving them the oportunity & fair notice to collect it. However, I was told that I could charge them whatever I considered to be reasonable amount for storeage (which I didn't).

bonkers20 Thu 04-Aug-11 13:13:39

I really feel for you but I don't like how you are taking her personal circumstances into account. Being over 50 or 60 and living alone does not in any way excuse her of her behaviour.

Pootles2010 Thu 04-Aug-11 13:17:21

Can't quite believe you take 50's/60's to be an 'old dear' or that she should behave better just because she's older?

She does sound pretty unreasonable though. Has she spent a lot of time & effort on her garden? I guess you don't have a back garden they can play in instead.

What's she like when you talk to her? Could you invite her round for a cuppa and a chat?

Pancakeflipper Thu 04-Aug-11 13:19:47

Do log all this ( dates and times).
Do contact the police, ask to speak to your community officer.

Sadly incidents like this are more common than you think and a good community officer knows how upsetting and stressful this all can be.

A friend of mine had issues with their neighbour ( in a terrace shared passageway, he had a camera focused on their property) The community police officer spoke to their neighbour several times and things improved. they learnt to ignore each other.

Octaviapink Thu 04-Aug-11 13:19:50

Actually her age is relevant if she might be going a bit senile. I can sort of see her point of view a bit - she's got two under-fives moved in next door and obviously it's caused her a bit of disruption - but her actions aren't a reasonable response and from what you say she's made no effort to be friends with you all. Do you have a friendly solicitor you could call for a bit of free advice? If not then your landlord is probably your best bet and the fence may be the best solution. If she carries on after that then keep a record of incidents and definitely report it to the police.

EldritchCleavage Thu 04-Aug-11 13:30:59

I agree that your references to her age are a bit weird and irrelevant. If in her 50s/60s, she's not even old. That said, I've real sympathy for you.

Please DO NOT ignore it. Some people like this never get bored: they make their campaigns the focus of their lives. I truly hope this isn't the case with your neighbour, but the best way to make sure it isn't is to stand up to her via an agency like the police or council. Do avoid direct confrontation, which is what some of these people seem to thrive on (it's like feeding the trolls on Mumsnet). If she is ever directly aggressive with you or the children, call the police immediately.

I would:-
-report all the incidents to police and tell them you feel you are being harassed;

-don't take her at her word over anything. She didn't have the right to just throw the scooter away, even if it was on her property, without giving you a chance to come and remove it. Doing so was an offence under the Theft Act, I think;

-write back to Environmental Health making clear the allegations are not true and you believe they have been made by a neighbour with whom you are in dispute. Tell them your problem with the radio/TV/doorbell thing. Don't let her accusations to them go unchallenged;

-write and tell your landlord about all this, and possibly even copy him in on the letters to and from Environmental Health. You need to make sure the first information s/he gets on this comes from you (in case neighbour decides to target the landlord next).

plinkduet Thu 04-Aug-11 13:40:02

Rustybear: 'I meant, why should her age matter to the police?

That's what I'm asking too, Rusty.

Her age and previous profession are a factor ; I do expect better behaviour from my elders and I do expect an ex-Nanny to have a kinder attitude to children. She scares them with her constant telling-off.

Perhaps I should clarify that in my part of the country, 'old dear' is just a phrase for women of pensionable age, as it seems to be causing offence.

Yes, I do have a back garden, but this property came with two gardens and I don't see any problem with allowing my children to play in either, especially where it is safer for them in the front garden (back has high steps and I can't see them from indoors).

Yes, her garden is meticulously kept, but the odd ball flying into the pebble borders without causing damage to any flora is not grounds for her actions, in my opinion.

There have been dozens of tenants in the last six years in my house, but I am the first one with children.

The landlord lives next to me, well his house is at the end of the front garden, and he and his wife say to ignore my neighbour she's 'uppity'. The landlord isn't bothered, the letting agency have said they're not concerned about my tenancy, so I guess it's down to me.

AnotherJaffaCake Thu 04-Aug-11 13:42:20

I absolutely hate having a shared access and alleyway with our neighbour. He is a thoroughly nasty piece of work. He, like Pancakeflipper's friend, has a camera trained onto our driveway/front door. He watches us all the time. He knows what we're doing, when we're in/out. He's threatened us, caused an awful lot of problems for us. We're probably going to move house, but what he's done would be worthy of involving the police. I think we will keep our heads down and hope we can sell but I really do feel for you Plinkduet. I know now that I'd never want to live in a property with shared anything, if I can possibly help it. He even threatened to report us to Environmental Health, apparently over cooking smells. If he did, we didn't hear anything from them - they probably thought he was a nutcase it wasn't that serious.

But really, Plinkduet, she's never going to give up until she's got rid of you. Once a neighbour gets it into their head that they hate you then they are never going to leave you alone. It is so sad that there are people out there willing to make our lives a living hell, for no particular reason, just following their own agenda. If I were in your position, I'd be saving really hard to get out of there, just have some peace. And in the meantime, record every single incident - we are now.

Selks Thu 04-Aug-11 13:50:58

I'd try a 'nice offensive'. Be exceedingly nice and conciliatory and invite her round for a cup of tea and a friendly chat. It might work, and there is no harm in trying.
The tactic here is that if you are very friendly she will 'have' to be friendlier back.

plinkduet Thu 04-Aug-11 13:57:22

Selks, our relationship was exactly that for the first 1.5 years.

However, I am reluctant to invite a woman into my house who scares my children.

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