Sid and Nancy are the owner occupiers of Greenacre. Their next-door neighbours, Hughie, Dewey and Louis are the tenants of Redacre. The owner of Redacre, Yvonne, is their landlord.
Sid and Nancy are in their 50s and are set in their ways but until a year ago they got on well with Yvonne and have had no cause to complain about her tenants. However, by any objective standard, Hughie and his friends are noisy and inconsiderate. They are young men in their early 20s, enjoying time away from home and, because they all have good jobs, they have quite a lot of money to spend. They work odd hours and often come home at 3 a.m. Their idea of relaxing is to invite people round and have very long, very noisy drinking sessions. In the past six months, the police have been called on two occasions, not by Sid and Nancy but by other neighbours. On the second of these, Hughie spoke out of turn and albeit informally, was warned as to his future conduct and also that the local police were cracking down on alcohol-related disturbances.
Sid and Nancy’s daily routines have been turned upside down. Their sleep patterns are disrupted and they are finding that even during the day, their neighbours are so noisy that they literally cannot hear themselves speak and cannot hear their television unless it is turned up to a very high volume. Their requests to their neighbours to keep the noise down are ignored despite them repeatedly telephoning Yvonne, sometimes in the middle of the night. Her numerous requests to her tenants to behave are ignored and over a two-month period there is no improvement. Hughie and his friends maintain that they like their home, are behaving quite reasonably and that they have no intention of either moving or changing their ways.
Sid makes it abundantly clear that he considers that Yvonne is responsible for her tenants’ behaviour. He threatens legal action against her and the tenants and claims that his health has suffered. His complaints become ever more strident to the point that he becomes abusive and is in danger of losing his objectivity.
Yvonne thinks that Sid is full of bluster but does privately concede that he has a point and is very worried about her tenants’ behaviour. Even though her solicitors have advised that Sid has little prospect of success she is very concerned that he will start court proceedings and that she will incur a large bill.
Yvonne’s estate agent suggests mediation. The tenants initially reject this suggestion but when it is explained that this is being put forward as an alternative to possession proceedings they agree. Sid and Nancy also agree but only once Yvonne has reluctantly consented to being a party herself. During the process, although they make no formal admission to the other parties to the mediation, Hughie and his friends privately concede that they have been acting inappropriately. They let it be known to the mediator that if suitable alternative accommodation could be arranged for them, they would agree to move. For the first time, Sid is able to openly explain to his neighbours how their behaviour has affected Nancy and himself.
During a round table discussion, Yvonne makes it clear to her tenants that she is at the end of her tether and that any further transgressions will not be tolerated. She suggests that provided Sid agrees to stop either threatening court action or telephoning her in the middle of the night and the tenants start behaving, she and her agent will endeavour to find a suitable alternative property for them. She appreciates that in mediation she is not bound by any legal niceties and that the confidential nature of the process gives her ample opportunity to explain her point of view and to let it be known to the others that she will not tolerate any more bad behaviour from anyone.
An agreement is reached. Although they do not admit any wrongdoing on their part, the tenants agree that they will not behave inappropriately and that if a suitable property can be found, they will move. Sid and Nancy agree that they will monitor the situation and maintain an accurate, objective written record of events and that they will not continue to threaten Yvonne with court action. She also agrees that in future she will ensure that prospective tenants are rather more rigorously vetted. On this basis, the matter is resolved and in due course Hughie and his friends move out.
Not only do Sid and Nancy “get their lives back” but they are also saved from having to consider either taking court action against the tenants or having to concede that they have no basis for suing Yvonne.
Yvonne is saved a good deal of further stress and worry. Equally she is reassured that she will not have to deal with Sid’s constant stream of complaints and is relieved that she will not have to take her tenants to court.
Had agreement not been reached, Hughie and his friends would have been evicted at some point. They appreciate that given the state of the housing rental market they would have found it very difficult to find alternative accommodation. They are also mindful that the police had been called on two occasions and that any further escalation of their behaviour could have resulted in one or more of them being arrested. They also consider that to some extent they have been able to save face and have avoided having to pay court costs.
Principal Director of ASMADR, civil/commercial, workplace, employment, family and educational mediator and trainer with a judicial/legal background. He has knowledge and expertise in dispute resolution in a wide range of areas and disciplines and mediates online.