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Unhinged neighbour - how to keep things under control?

(11 Posts)

We have a small ground floor flat, with a yard to the rear. Not much outdoor space, but really important to us as place our kids can be outside and be safe.

We own our flat, and our neighbour on the ground floor to the right rents hers. Over the past weeks, her behaviour has become increasingly erratic and worrying. There is a 5ft wall between our yards, which in the past has been plenty to ensure privacy.

From the day she moved in, she threw cigarette butts over the wall. I have never actually seen her in the act, however, so there wasn't much I could realistically do about it. We said nothing and simply cleaned up.

A couple of months ago she strung a washing line across her yard and hung a mirror ball up. Not a big problem, but I work at home so the migraine inducing reflections into our front room on a sunny day are not at all helpful. In the interests of good relations we chose not to do anything about this, and simply drew the curtains when it was at its worst.

In recent weeks she painted the inside of all the glass on her windows, front and rear. Then about two weeks ago, she was sobbing loudly and scraping at her back door with a stanley knife. I asked over the wall what was wrong, and if there was anything I could do to help. She said that it was her 'whole life', that there was a conspiracy against her and that someone had burgled her flat and cut her telephone and internet conections. She was in such a state I didn't press things, and sugggested that she take care not to hurt herself with the knife. The week that followed was a noisy one - not sure what she was up to, but it involved a lot of banging/scaping DIY type sounds through the walls at all hours.

Roll on to this week. She has now used electrical tape to secure broken mirrors to her combi boiler exhaust, blocking the air inlets. Various items of junk have been balanced on the yard wall, some of which were secured with electrical tape to the guttering down-pipe (which is our side). It looks a fright! There is a heavy square thing that may have been an attempt at art of some sort, but mostly it is broken blinds and things of that nature. It nearly doubles the height of the wall, and looks like landfill. When I got the courage up to ask her about it, she said that it was to make her yard 'pretty' confused. She maintains that it is all secure, (despite various items crashing into our yard) and refuses to remove any of it. I cut the electrical tape on the down-pipe myself, as that is definitely our property. She did say she will soon be moving, but I'm not sure how true this is.

All my efforts to find the name and contact details of her letting agent/the owner of the flat have proved unfruitful, and I really don't know what to do. I daren't make too much fuss with her, as I genuinely believe she has mental health issues. I need it sorted, though. I am a bit worried that her behaviour might escalate, and end up causing serious damage to someone/something. I don't feel safe letting my kids out in my own backyard, and should we ever want to sell this mess would be a disaster. No buyer wants a lunatic nextdoor!

EEk - apologies for the super long post - and thanks in advance if you made it to the end.

Anyone with any similar experiences who could offer some words of wisdom/advice?

FrillyMilly Fri 07-Oct-11 11:36:27

I dont know whether you should contact social services? She sounds like she could do with some professional help.

If you want to find the owner have you tried buying the deeds from the land registry? I did it online to try and sort out our really noisy neighbour. It cost £2 and I had it instantly on PDF. I managed to contact the landlord from the name on the deeds.

Thanks FrillyMilly. I will give the land registry a go. There is a flat management company for her block, and I checked it out online with Companies House. They only have one director listed, and their address is listed as the top floor flat above her (it is a block of three, and the other two properties have been empty and for sale for some time).

Would social services be able to do anything? I don't really have a clear idea on their policies/powers with things like this.

FrillyMilly Fri 07-Oct-11 11:47:35

I would think there is a local social services department for adults. Do you think she could harm herself? They may just check on her and make sure shes ok. A man my sister works with who has mental illness was found living in a flat in a bad way. Concerns where raised to social services and he now has a support worker who goes to see him for a few hours every day just to make sure he's coping. I would be tempted to call them and they will decide if they can do anything or not.

loomer Fri 07-Oct-11 12:01:30

This sounds like a lady who really needs some professional help, and it sounds like you have been incredibly patient with her behaviour thus far. We found ourselves in a similar situation last year with an elderley neighbour who seemed to be showing signs of dementia and became very aggresive toward us and our small daughter.

After investigating various options to get her help, we ended up having to report her to the police. It sounds rather extreme but it was the only way of getting her into 'the system'. Once she had been visited by the local PC as a result of our late night phonecall regarding our concern for her safety (ie being a danger to herself) this was then followed up by a couple of visits during daylight hours from a community police officer, who was very sympathetic to both us and her, and was able to make some kind of referral to her GP. That then kick started a proper medical assesment of her needs and also garnered the attention of her children, neither of whom lived locally and seemed to be unaware of her behaviour.

Hope that helps.

Hurray! FrillyMilly, your land registry suggestion proved worth it. I tracked down the owner, who seems really nice (though he did query how I got his number). The Land Registry only had an address, but good old BT online residential numbers search filled the gap and gave me a telephone number.

He is already trying to get her out of the flat, and is very concerned about damage that has occurred to the interior. Apparently he has had difficulty getting access to the flat to assess it.

He is coming round later, and if she won't let him in he plans to jump the wall from our side and at least remove the stuff on the boiler flue (which I think he is allowed to on safety grounds).

I am undecided about SS. Having reported her to her landlord, I feel a bit bad making a second report...

narmada Fri 07-Oct-11 14:46:32

Do you know her name? If so you could ring your local doctors surgery and say you have concerns about xxx and if she is registered with them can they please ask her to come in for a chat? Obviously, they will not share any details with you but all the same.

She sounds like she has some sort of paranoia, psychosis, or delusional illness and needs professional help.

I would call the local adult mental health team - you will be doing her a favour.

Narmada -I do know her name, but we are a city centre location, so pinpointing the correct GP surgery could prove impossible.

After talking to some other neighbours, it seems that there is a lady a few doors down who 'looks after/keeps an eye on' her. I need to try and locate her, perhaps.

The Landlord couldn't make it today, afterall. I am away myself over the weekend, and this is really going to prey on my mind. The landlord asked me to take some photos and e-mail them, but I don't have a digital camera available until next week. He also told me some really worrying details about what she has been up to next door. Apparently, she cut the electricity to the whole block by slicing through the wires in the communal area. shock. He had to get an emergency electrician out, who said she was lucky to still be alive... She has changed the locks in order to keep him out, and though he eventually got copies he is restricted by law re. accessing the property (I think there is something about 48hrs notice, and the tenant being present?)

I think adult menatl health may be the way to go, but I really don't want anything kicking off while our property is empty over the weekend! I have visions of returning to a burnt-out wreck sad

*mental, not menatl, obviously blush

ShroudOfHamsters Fri 07-Oct-11 17:08:09

No, report her. She needs help, urgently, you are doing her a favour.

And the landlord too - it sounds as if his hands are tied and there is a serious risk that she could do something to the services which endangers everyone in the block! If you report her, that might help get him the powers to get into the flat at least.

Something definitely needs to be done - this sounds dangerous.

LowLevelWhingeing Fri 07-Oct-11 17:13:50

She does sound like she may be ill sad and if she is, evicting her will only damage her further. please phone SS, they will know what to do to help her if she needs it.

Her behaviour is bizarre and erratic and as others have said she could have an element of paranoia/psychosis.

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