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  • New to NFH

    I live in a four in the block - two flats downstairs and two flats upstairs. We all have our own front doors and designated gardens. The flats were built in the 1930's and the soundproofing isn't great!

    We’ve been getting woken up by our dear neighbours downstairs lately. It’s been on and off over the last month or so and at 6.15 am is rather unsocial. So, took the bull by the horns on Saturday morning and asked if they could stop making such a noise then (didn’t tell them that I’ve been in touch with Env Health about it – they recommend Mediation!) I have been keeping notes and records of what's happened when, just in case I need to refer back to them.

    Well, what ensued was a character assassination by her on me!! Apparently we make an awful noise when we come in on a night if we’ve been out. She know’s when we come back in!! (No surprise there – the blinds twitch every time we go anywhere or if anyone comes to our door!) Funnily enough, I am aware that I live above someone else, and we do try to be quiet when we come in. Nope this wasn’t enough for her at all!

    Then asked her about the communal washing green (she has Tue, Thu, Sat and I've got Mon, Wed, Fri - Sun is free!) and what was the issue with me hanging a line up on a Sunday – she doesn’t like looking at my washing on a Sunday as it’s the day that they are all at home and she shouldn’t have to look at my washing. Well, this fairly tried my tact and diplomacy skills! Explained that I worked Monday to Friday and really wasn’t able to use the line on these days – would she be willing to swap days around – No way – she’s hung her washing out on a Saturday since she’s moved into the place (over 30 years ago) and there’s no way that she was going to change that now! So, asked if I could hang a line when she’s finished with the green on a Saturday – Again, No! She’d let me hang a line one Saturday last year and then I had a cheek to put more washing out on the Sunday and again on the Monday! In fact, in her opinion, I’m excessive with my washing – there was one Saturday when I had three changes on in one day and in her opinion that’s excessive!! (I can’t help it if my lunch ends up down my t-shirt and I’m sure as hell not going about in dirty clothes!!) So, thought that was an indirect compliment, but didn’t say so!

    Explained that with having visitors over the weekend that I would have washing to do, and I would need to use the green on Sunday – no again, not to be done! Then I went along the tack of, well, I’ll hang up a line when you go to Church and take it down before you come home! Guess what the response was – NO! She would get to know about it, neighbours talk you know (Oh boy, don’t I know it!) and they don’t talk about the good things people do, they talk about the bad.

    She then dragged up something from a couple of years ago – they’d asked us to put the bin out the week that they were away on holiday. We did, but my other half took the liberty of putting a bag of garden rubbish in their bin. He told them about it when they came back – and her response was “I Know, I’ve been told that you did that!” The ironic thing is though, that she’s now fallen out with the neighbour that told her!

    Apparently my other half and I have stopped speaking to them – which isn’t true, as we always acknowledge them – we thought that it was them that had stopped speaking to us!! As she would dodge into the doorway when we’re leaving in the morning or hide behind the wall when going out with rubbish. – oh no, not them, the fault was all ours!

    Then she had the cheek to say that I was rude to her when she came round with a parcel – it happened to be the day that I came home from a close friend's funeral and I was quite upset, funnily enough, so didn’t have a conversation with her, but thanked her for bringing the parcel round.

    Ohhhhh, I was so infuriated I could have screamed – I was trying to resolve things and she was making it worse by personalising everything and making out that it was all my fault – “you know what your problem is – you like getting your own way too much” Aye, as do you and its come as a bit of a shock to meet someone else who’s the same and willing to stand up to your nonsense – didn’t say it, but it went through my mind!

    However – did hang up a line when they were at church on Sunday and took it down before they came home – but also hung out the bedding that was on spare bed at 9.30 a.m - on the whirlygig in my garden. My other half was in the garden cutting the grass and when he saw them he said “hello” but was ignored twice! Ahh, the joys of neighbours!!!

    Anyway – I’m going to agree to mediation, as I think she is being unreasonable and I have the sneaking suspicion that she won’t go, so she’ll be blotting her own copy book.

    The joy of it all is that we're planning on converting our loft into another two bedrooms - plans have been drawn up and are ready to submit to the planning authority. Hmm, wonder if there will be any objections!?

    Love the website - found some really useful information on it and reading some of the other members problems help to put my own into perspective

  • #2
    Hello Celtic Woman, Welcome to the Board!

    Interesting post. I think this could be the very beginnings of a bad NFH dispute and all seems to stem from this washing business. You say in your post that you have the washing area on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Is this a different area from your designated garden or is it all the same place? When you say Sundays are "free" do you mean that the area has to be kept free or that it's free for anyone to use? Is the washing area also a piece of communal ground - i.e. for sunbathing etc? You also say that you've got another washing line in your own garden.

    From what I can gather, your neighbours are elderly and you sound much younger? This sounds like a classic case of you've inadvertently annoyed your neighbour by hanging out your washing on the wrong day. She has responded, not by coming to see you, but by banging around in her flat as a way of "revenge". You're supposed to know why she's banging around . Unfortunately, this has just annoyed you.

    This situation sounds resolvable if it doesn't drop too much further into a slanging match. Unfortunately, if you live in flats with communal areas there are rules to be obeyed and your neighbour has obviously taken umbrage to your using the area when, I'm supposing, you're not really supposed to . I would accept the position regarding the washing line and put it out on my designated days before going to work. If you have this extra line in your own garden, is this not sufficient?

    It just sounds to me as if you've lived amicably alongside each other for quite some time and it would be a shame to start hating each other. I would go and see her and try and resolve the situation. Try and see it from her point of view: you have the area three days a week to do your washing and you are choosing to do your washing on a day not designated to you and she ends up having to look at your washing outside her window. Some people have very little patience and this is aggravating her. She's probably fuming about going "She has that area 3 days a week and still has to put her washing out on the day she's not supposed to ... blah blah". She will not see that swapping with her Saturday is a reasonable idea because she will be telling herself that there is nothing stopping you putting your washing out on the mornings of your days (apart from the weather) and she, for whatever reason, doesn't want to lose her Saturdays. I am assuming that you don't use the areas at all on the days designated to you. I would go and see her and get the matter sorted out over a cup of tea. You don't sound willing to budge but a settlement could no doubt be reached. It seems you're both niggled and you both need to get things off your chest before it all explodes.


    • #3
      All that over a washing line?

      I agree that these things can easily and quickly be blown out of all proportion by the parties involved.

      You should definitely agree to mediation. You seem to have a situation that is easily retrievable. Try not to let it become along, drawn out and more acrimonious dispute than it already is.

      Your neighbours may well object to your planning extension. That is their legal right. You would be well advised in giving them copies of the plans prior to your application to invite their comments.
      Now, these creatures are bringers of death and misery. They will never eat, they will never sleep, and they will never stop.

      We are part of an ancient secret society. For three thousand years we have guarded the Cities and Towns. We are sworn at manhood to do any and all in our power to stop the NFH from ever being reborn into this world.

      So what's the plan?

      Rescue the damsel in distress, stop the bad guys, save the world.


      • #4
        Hi Celtic Woman and welcome to the Forum

        It sounds like there are a few issues of concern with your neighbour from hell (NFH), but the main two are the noise and the washing/drying facilities.

        In terms of the noise, you must start logging everything on a sheet of paper - if you go to the Resources Section on the main nfh website, there are some blank sheets to print off. Start doing these today. If you can, think back to other things that have happened and add those too.

        The Environmental Health department (EH) will want you to have tried to discuss the matter with your nfh (verbally or in writing) before they get involved.

        Mediation is definitely an option for you.

        From reading your post, it sounds like you have a drying area in your own garden and extra space (limited to certain days) in the communal green area. Is this right? Like Jeannie said, is the space in your own garden not sufficient?

        I think that I would probably try to enter negotiations with your nfh. If she wants you to only use the communal line on the days you mentioned, then your nfh will have to suffer increased noise form your washer - particularly if you have to put it on early in the morning to hang out before you go to work. There is a compromise to be reached here.

        Members who suffer from noise nuisance will know how sensitive you get to it. You have no control over when it will happen, stop, increase or decrease in volume - it is like a dripping tap torture effect.

        As your neighbour has raised the issue of noise with you, it is perhaps an ideal opportunity to say to them that you hadn't been aware of you causing any disturbance to them, but you had been woken at 6.15 am on occasions. Try and work it out between the two of you.

        Then try the EH and run concurrently with the Mediation suggestion. Good luck.


        • #5
          Hi Celtic Woman, and welcome

          I see you've already been given some good advice. And I think I agree with the others, your situation might just be solveable (is that a word? )

          If nothing else, mediation will give you a chance to state your side of the story. If your neighbour refuses it will show that at least you were willing to give it a go.

          It's strange but the other night I was talking to a friend who lives in Brighton and she has an almost identical problem with the washing lines. So it must be more common than we realise. As far as the washing is concerned your neighbour does seem to be quite stubborn.

          On the subject of noise, it seems to be rearing its head a lot with flat-dwellers. I'd go along with holly's suggestion of keeping a log. It seems strange that it's only in the last month or so that the noise has been a nuisance. Have your neighbours changed their lifestyle or jobs? Her response to your request about keeping the noise down is typical NFH behaviour of passing the blame back to you. Surely if you'd been that noisy she'd have raised the issue sooner. She seems to have an eye on everything else!

          There is of course, the possibility that she may try to throw a spanner in the works over your loft conversion. But she'd have to have a really good reason to stop it going ahead.

          Good luck and come back and let us know how things progress

          "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi


          • #6
            My downstairs neighbours are both retired and have a disabled daughter in her mid-30's. They've lived in the area for over 30 years.

            As far as the communal washing green goes - there are 4 poles on it and in effect it can be used on designated days. Sunday isn't assigned to anyone and when I moved in, I was told by my neighbour that she doesn't hang a line up on a Sunday. Therefore I took it that I could use the communal washing green on that day.

            The rotary drier in my own bit of garden is great for hanging up items of clothing but where I really struggle is with larger items of laundry such as bedding (Sheets and duvet covers) and bath towels. My rotary drier is pretty close to the boundary fences and I've had clothes damaged if they snag on the fence.

            Using the washing line on my dedicated days during the week is feasible, so long as neighbour doesn't complain about me having my washing machine on in the evening.

            When I moved in, I was told that noise was acceptable from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. as that was what was allowed by Env Health (Strangely enough, having worked as an Enforcement Officer in Env Health for over 7 years, I always believed that it was 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.)

            I'm led to believe by other neighbours that the previous owners moved as a result over a dispute that started with - guess what - the communal drying green. Which is why there is now a rotary drier in my back garden.


            • #7
              Hello Celtic woman!

              Is it a spot of bother with Sabbath observance that we're having here? That would add brimstone to the fire!

              As far as noise is concerned, I believe that the law uses the wonderful word 'reasonable', leaving each EH office to decide what they think (but a judge might not) is reasonable in their area.

              Surely there's a freehold agreement/feu charter or whatever which states the terms of thew use of communal areas and upkeep of mutual property eg roof. This might affect your loft conversion - though unless it's big, it shouldn't need planning approval, and you can't object to applications for building permission.

              Go for mediation, but why not take something to offer them, too - like a mutual review of soundproofing/insulation etc. Be all sweetness and light!!! They won't take you up on it.
              "Poor Tom shall lead thee" (King Lear)