Consumer rights: Can we stop our neighbour's building plans
What to do about construction noise, disruption and loss of light?...Do employees' have rights after taking time off sick
Sunday 18 April 2010
Q. About 12 families live in our small development. The houses are all close and one of our neighbours is planning to build another floor on to their house. The rest of us are all worried about the noise and disruption the building work will cause and we're also concerned that we'll be left with big bills for cleaning the dust and cement off our windows, walls and paintwork.
Apart from that, the house in question will be much bigger than the rest and look out of place. Some of us objected to the local council when the neighbour originally applied for planning permission, but we were ignored and we weren't successful in appealing.
However – we can still stop the building going ahead. Although planning permission has been granted, all the owners belong to the management company which owns the freehold of the flats and houses. The management company has to give written permission before the work goes ahead. There's a meeting coming up next month to discuss this. Do you think we should just say no?
Name and address withheld
A. Neighbour disputes are always difficult. What are you really objecting to? You have to be careful not to make unreasonable objections, and unreasonable is hard to define. Mind you, your neighbour shouldn't be unreasonable either.
You need to think this through carefully, and if you are determined to object, make sure you're on solid ground – take advice from a solicitor with specialist knowledge of property and planning. If there are a dozen of you involved, you could split the cost and even pay for an experienced solicitor to be at the meeting. Someone in the group may already have a solicitor who is up to the job.
It might be reasonable to refuse permission for the extra floor to be built if, in some way, you would lose out financially because of it. But it would have to a significant loss. Could it cause the value of your homes to go down? But also consider that having a bigger house on the development might attract buyers with more money and push up the desirability of the development?
Even if the extra storey would cut out some of your light, that's not likely to be a good enough reason to withhold permission. If you're just worried that the months of work will be inconvenient, that may not be enough of a reason to say no either. What will this cost you? If there are likely to be cleaning bills, calculate how much they'll cost each neighbour. You could ask at the meeting that the person who wants the extension pays for those expenses and pays for any other cleaning around the development that needs doing to restore it to its original condition after the builders have left. When it comes to noise and disruption, usually builders can only work between 8am and 6pm, Mondays to Fridays and between 8am and 1pm on Saturdays, but check what your local authority by-laws say.
If you do withhold permission, your neighbour may take the view that it's unreasonable and take court action. That leaves everyone facing court and lawyers' fees, which you want to avoid if at all possible.
The most important thing is not to ruin good neighbourly relationships. You all have to go on living together, run the management company and agree how to resolve any future problems that crop up. Don't forget that, if you decide to sell, you'd have to let any potential buyer know if you were in dispute with your neighbour. Go to the meeting well-informed and with your objections – but have suggestions as to how the objections can be surmounted. It might be possible to negotiate that work starts later and finishes earlier and never on a Saturday, for instance. Good legal advice now may save you a lot of money in the long run.
Q. I've been off work for the past six weeks after a serious operation and the doctor says I won't be ready to go back for another month or maybe two. My boss has been OK about it up until now, but yesterday he called and told me that he'd stop my wages if I'm not back to work by the beginning of May. Can he do that? I'm worried I won't be able to pay the bills.
A. Without seeing your written terms and conditions of employment, it's hard to know exactly what your entitlement to sick pay is. At the very least, you are likely to be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP – the minimum amount set by the Government), but employers can be more generous.
If your employer has paid your full wages until now and is willing to carry on for another two weeks, he is being more generous than the law requires. The details of his company sick pay scheme should be in your contract. You should have a copy and that may tell you what you need to know.
Some employers pay only the SSP set down by the Government. Some pay full wages for the first few weeks of illness and then reduce it to half-pay or right down to the SSP level. My guess is that when your boss said he'd stop your pay what he meant was that your contract allows for you to get full pay for the first eight weeks of illness and after that it drops to the SSP level.
There are rules about who can and can't qualify for SSP sick pay, but if you're an employee rather than working on a self-employed basis, earn more than the lower earnings limit, which is £97 from 6 April 2010, and haven't already had 28 weeks of SSP from your employer in the past three years, you're likely to qualify. That means that you will go on getting £79.15 a week for the rest of the time you're off as long as that doesn't exceed 28 weeks. The money will be paid to you by your employer.
That may not sound like good news. Most of us spend what we earn, so it's likely that your bills and spending comes to more than £79 a week. Whether you are entitled to additional help in paying for mortgage interest, rent or council tax depends on whether you have a partner who is earning, how much in total is coming into the household and how many children you have.
If, for some reason, you aren't entitled to SSP, or you are still unable to work when the 28 weeks are up, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance.
My suggestion is to make an appointment to see an adviser at your nearest advice centre such as the Citizens Advice Bureau. If you're not well enough to go, perhaps your partner could go, taking all the paper work, including your work contract. Failing that, you might be able to arrange for a home visit. You'll find details of advice centres in your phone book.
Do you need a financial makeover?
Write to Julian Knight at the Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF firstname.lastname@example.org
Q&A: What’s the best way to invest for our baby?
Crowd-to-let: How crowdfunding sites can give investors a slice of the property market for £500
Simon Read: 'Seven Families campaign offers an escape from financial and emotional distress'
After the election: What will Britain's financial future look like on 8 May?
General Election 2015: How you vote next week could affect your finances
- 1 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 The top 50 cities for young people to live in
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...
Day In a Page
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park