Harold and Jane Case Study
Harald and Jane, a lovely, gentle, elderly couple owned a semi-detached house in a 'nice', quiet cul-de-sac in Tophill. They had lived in their home for over 20 years and never had a problem. Many family's had come and gone, but they now had new neighbours
The family that had moved in next door, consisted of a middle-aged couple and their 3 grown-up sons and 4 dogs. Problems began almost immediately :-
- Constant noise from over-loud TV, stereo and parked car radio's
- Barking dogs
- Cars racing in and out of the cul-de-sac with car doors slamming and loud 'rap' music throughout the night
- Shared boundary fence disrepair
- Abusive arguments and foul language
- Barbeque smoke (without any warning for washing etc)
It was not in Harald and Joan's nature to complain, so they did their best to live with it, even though neither of them were in good health.
Harald had once asked the man next door if he could try to keep the noise down at night, but was told to “grow up!” . Harald was already 81, how much more growing did he need to do? Harald was so worried by his neighbour's response that he went to another (normal) neighbour, who spoke to the offending family about their aggressive behaviour; all to no avail, although interestingly, they were a lot more polite to the 6'5' Firefighter.
The last straw came when Armed Police were called to their neighbours house because their son, brandishing a shotgun had threatened to kill his parents. The street was blocked with 4 or 5 police cars and about 12 armed police men and a circling police helicopter. Naturally Harald and Jane were very, very frightened.
They came to the Portland Centre. We immediately and quietly listened to their problems – it helped them to get if off their chest. Then we sought legal advice to find out where they stood. We also contacted Shelter, the Police and the Local Authority to enlist their assistance. Usually in this type of dispute we would encourage and assist in mediation – talking informally to the neighbour, to try to find a resolution, but this situation had gone far beyond that step.
The biggest problem was that the neighbours owned their home and so Harald and Jane could not apply to a Landlord for an eviction.
Portland Centre staff attended every legal appointment with Harald and Jane, making sure that they were heard and understood. The Solicitor, Shelter, the Police and the Local authority all agreed that only a Court Hearing with sanctions would improve their living conditions.
We helped them fill in court documents and attended the hearing.
Of course the neighbour stepped up the harassment, once they realised the lovely, elderly couple next door, were taking them to court. We logged every incident and reported it to the Police. We also made arrangements for a Community Police Woman and Portland Centre Staff to 'obviously' drop in on Harald and Jane every so often.
The judge was appalled at the abuse Harald and Jane had been living with and imposed various and detailed sanctions on the neighbours which carried serious legal implications if not adhered to.
Although the relationship between the neighbours remained extremely frosty from that point, which really did continue to upset Harald and Jane, they at least had had the courage to contact the Portland Centre to find the help and support to fight the injustice and bullying of their neighbours harassing behaviour.