Dear Property Doctors,
Our next door neighbour’s garage is attached to ours, and our drives are side by side. They have converted their garage (without planning permission) into self-contained accommodation, and the up and over to their garage has been replaced by a front door.
The accommodation is currently being rented out for £600 per month to two young men. As the owners park a vehicle in front, the tenants often have to use our drive for access which triggers our security light. We have notified the council (as has another neighbour) via its online portal, but have heard nothing.
Our concerns are that the enjoyment of our property is being affected by having various tenants (some of whom have caused problems) in close proximity. We live in a conservation area and we bought the property, which is accessed by a private road and looks onto a park at the rear, because it offered the peace and privacy we wanted, factors which demanded a premium.
CE, by email
There are two separate issues here. If the conversion was carried out in breach of planning control, then that is a matter for the council to deal with. It is often difficult to persuade local authorities to take enforcement action where there is a breach. If if it refuses, then there will almost certainly have a formal complaints procedure that you can invoke.
The only remedy you would have as an individual would be under the law of nuisance. Essentially, that says that a person cannot do something on his property that unreasonably disturbs their neighbour. I am not certain that the fact that your security lights come on when the tenants come and go would be sufficient, but there may be other complaints you have as a result of the fact that the garage has been converted into living accommodation which is separately let out.
Unfortunately, cases of this nature are complex and expensive to bring. However, it may well be that the threat of proceedings would result in your neighbour taking some action to reduce the disturbance caused to you even if it doesn’t result in them ceasing to let out the garage as a residence.
David Fleming is the head of property litigation at William Heath & Co solicitors (williamheath.co.uk)
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