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PROPERTY CLINIC: What can I do about noisy neighbours driving me mad?  

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I had problems with the neighbours having parties before lockdown and while this has ceased temporarily they have remained very loud even without guests. 

I am worried the parties and noise will step up again once restrictions are lifted. What can I do?

If an initial polite request for the noise to stop goes unheard, you can approach your local or district council for help

If an initial polite request for the noise to stop goes unheard, you can approach your local or district council for help

MailOnline Property expert Myra Butterworth replies: I’m sorry to hear about the disruption to your daily life. But there are steps you can take.

If an initial polite request for the noise to stop goes unheard, you can approach your local or district council, which has a dedicated team to help with such circumstances.

It can ultimately take action, such as physically remove any offending equipment if there is a case to do so.

In the meantime, keep a written record of what is happening and when, including any responses from your neighbours. 

Amanda Hamilton, chief executive of the National Association of Licensed Paralegals, replies: The good news is, there is something that can be done.

Every local or district council has an environmental health department. These teams are known as ‘noise or nuisance teams’.

There are certain things that noise teams are unable to deal with such as noise relating to traffic, planes, trains and some domestic noises such as footsteps, crying babies, kitchen appliances and doors opening or closing.

Everything else is actionable. For example, neighbours playing loud music at all hours of the night. Once this has been reported to the department, they instruct a team that then contacts you to enquire whether the noise is still going on. If it is, they come round and experience the noise from your home. If they believe that the noise is excessive, they can initially talk to the neighbours to ask them to refrain and give them a warning.

Once the first visit has taken place, a letter gets sent to the neighbours confirming the noise team’s visit and explaining that, if the team is requested to visit again, a second warning will be given. On a third visit, the team has the right to serve a notice threatening prosecution and/or seizure of equipment.

For example, take a Victorian terraced house divided into two leasehold flats: A one bedroom with a garden on the ground floor and a two bedroom on the upper two floors. 

The owners of the ground floor flat also own the freehold of the house, meaning that they could collect ground rent and service charges from the owners of the upper flat. 

They did not ‘own’ the upper flat, as the couple that did own it had a 99 year lease. That meant that they had a right to quiet enjoyment and the right not to be disturbed in their own home.

The owners of the downstairs flat are a married couple. They assumed that they ‘owned’ the whole house and could do what they liked. They left their doors and windows open and played heavy rock music at all hours of the day and night.

Neighbours in the houses on both sides frequently complained to the top floor flat owners about how noisy the couple were, but not one of them confronted them downstairs. 

The owners of the top flat were repeatedly woken in the early hours of the morning by such loud music that the building vibrated. They tried to use diplomatic means to reason with the neighbours downstairs but often found them to be so drunk that they were ignored.

After two years of trying this solution, they realised that their lives were being totally disrupted by the behaviour of the neighbours downstairs. So much so, that they had to relocate their bedroom to a room on the top floor, and quite often could not watch TV, as their front room was directly above the neighbours’ sitting room. They reverted to escape this by virtually living in the top floor bedroom.

In an effort to stop this disruption, they contacted the police who informed them that they could not do anything as it was a civil matter. However, they did mention the environmental health team of the local council, and in one fell swoop, their life changed. They were now in control of the situation. 

During a period of six months, they called the team out three times, and on the third visit, the noise team called the police as it was clear that the neighbours downstairs were inebriated and became quite aggressive. They were arrested and their music equipment was taken away.

If you have a nuisance or noisy neighbour start by trying to reason with them. Let them know that their actions are impacting your life and ask if they are able to stop. Sometimes people are simply not aware of the impact of their actions.

If reasoning fails, and the neighbours refuse to change their behaviour, then don’t be tempted to threaten them or resort to retaliation tactics, call the ‘noise team’ of your local council. 

It will help a lot if you have been able to keep a diary of the dates, times and type of disruption. The noise team needs to hear the noise or witness the disruption for themselves, so if you can determine a pattern, this will help them visit at the appropriate time and can move the process forward much quicker. Also keep a log of your conversations with your neighbour about the disruption, and their responses.

If you still have trouble, or the noise team haven’t provided the remedy you’re seeking, you could always apply to the court for an injunction. This is an order from the court, that can have a power of arrest attached, which forces the neighbour to cease the noise. 

This is where a paralegal can help. A paralegal is trained and educated to assist consumers to make applications to courts and give advice. They are not solicitors and so their fees may be lower.

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Orange warning in place for five counties on west coast

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Violent storm force 11 winds are expected off the west coast as Storm Barra approaches on Tuesday morning.

Met Éireann has upgraded its marine weather warning to red, the highest category, on Irish coastal waters from Galway Bay to Bantry Bay from 3am on Tuesday morning to 11pm tomorrow night.

A status orange warning is in place on land for the counties of Galway, Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork from 6am on Tuesday morning until the same time on Wednesday morning.

Counties included in orange warning could see damaging gusts of up to 130km/h which will head to high waves, high tides, heavy rain and storm surge.

The rest of the country will be under a status yellow warning for the same period with the possibility of localised flooding.

Met Éireann head of forecasting Evelyn Cusack told Newstalk Breakfast that the storm system is developing rapidly over the Atlantic at present and will hit Ireland’s western seaboard on Tuesday with strong gale force winds which will quickly extend across the country.

There will be heavy rain turning to sleet and snow on higher ground, she warned.

Met Éireann will meet with gardaí, local authorities and emergency services this morning to update the progress of the storm and provide advice on what precautionary measures should be taken.

“It will be a pretty horrid day,” added Ms Cusack who advised against cycling.

The high winds and heavy rain will continue throughout Wednesday but they will have moved on by Thursday.

On RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, senior meteorologist Liz Walsh warned that trees could be knocked down during the high winds. She also advised that outdoor street furniture should be taken in or tied down and cautioned that Christmas decorations could be damaged.

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Coronavirus rules for driving tests spark complaints

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Claims of rude testers, of not being allowed to cough and having to drive with windows open due to Covid-19 were among the complaints received from people who failed driving tests recently.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which oversees driving tests nationally, released a sample of the 1,505 complaints received since the start of last year under the Freedom of Information Act.

New figures show the driving test centre in Cork had the highest pass rate with 75 per cent of people passing, while the lowest was Charlestown in Dublin with a 42 per cent pass rate.

One person complained he had told his tester he had asthma and might need to cough because he had recently changed inhalers, causing irritation to his throat.

“I was advised that if I coughed at any stage, the test would be over immediately. This was difficult to control while under exam pressure and added a huge amount of unnecessary stress and pressure,” the individual complained.

Another individual complained their tester said if their face mask slipped “a little bit from my nose” while driving, the test would be ended.

“I’m in shock how he treated me that day,” said the complainant.

Another learner driver who failed said their car was hot and “very uncomfortable” because the tester said the hot air de-misters had to be kept on to prevent the windows fogging up because the back windows had to be kept open due to Covid-19.

One complainant said the tester seemed to have prejudged the test when they spotted a small stain on the driver’s seat as the car was supposed to be “spotless”.

‘Anxious’

“The tester was clearly taking it too far. I was complying with all Covid precautions as I had just Hoovered and sanitised the car and it was simply a mark on the seat.”

There were general complaints beyond Covid-19 issues. One person complained about feeling “anxious” because the tester was “sitting there shaking his head”.

Another said their tester repeatedly shook his head and sighed several times, and then made notes on the score sheet, which was “extremely off-putting and really unfair”.

Another driver said the tester was “extremely condescending and patronising” and mocked their answer to a signpost theory question about an “unguarded cliff edge”.

“We don’t drive along cliff edges in this country,” the tester was quoted as saying.

The RSA has been dealing with a backlog of driving tests due to the pandemic.

The centres with the next highest pass rates were Clifden (71 per cent), Killester in Dublin (70 per cent), Birr, Co Offaly (70 per cent) and Cavan (69 per cent).

The test centres with the next lowest pass rates were Dublin’s Churchtown, since closed (44 per cent), Nenagh, Co Tipperary (44 per cent) and Mulhuddart (45 per cent) and Raheny (46 per cent), both in Dublin.


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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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