Property: Home Truths

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Noisy neighbours

We have recently moved to a new area, and our neighbour rents out his property to students. We are having problems with their behaviour as they are always shouting and playing loud music, even in the early hours of the morning. When we have been round to ask them to lower the noise they have taken no notice. We have spoken to our neighbour who has said that he cannot tell them to leave as they have signed a 12-month lease. What can we do?

Mr A and Mrs E Hiou, Sheffield

A tenancy agreement would normally contain a no-nuisance clause, whereby if tenants create a nuisance they are breaking the terms of their lease. I suggest that you speak to your neighbour to see if the tenancy agreement contains such a clause. If it does your neighbour, as the landlord, will be able to go to court to seek a possession order. The Housing Act (1996) was introduced to make it easier and faster to evict tenants who behave in an anti-social manner. If your neighbour is unable to help you, I suggest you contact the Environmental Health Officer at your local council, who will advise you of the best way forward.

Uneasy access

We have lived in our property for six years and have to cross part of our neighbours' land to reach our home. This was never a problem, until new neighbours moved in and told us that they believe we should have a legal agreement drawn up and that my husband and I should pay the legal costs involved. Is this really necessary?

C Houghton, Devon

It is not a legal requirement that a binding agreement is drawn up, although it would make sense to have one. If no agreement is currently in place that allows you to go through your neighbours' land, your neighbours would have the right to block the access to your property. If you ever wish to sell your property, this is likely to be something that a prospective buyer would query. When the legal document is being drawn up it is very important that you understand the terms of the contract. Who pays the legal fees involved will have to be decided between you and your neighbours, and I suggest that you talk to them and try to reach a compromise.

Best barbie

My wife and I recently decided to buy a new barbecue set. We noticed that you can get gas barbecues. What are the advantages of a gas barbecue and would we require any specialist equipment for this?

B Jackson, Lincolnshire

No special equipment is needed to use a gas barbecue other than a gas cylinder rather than traditional charcoal. They are easy to light and heat up very quickly. As they are gas-powered, the cooking temperature is also easier to control than with charcoal. Gas barbecues also have an advantage over charcoal barbecues as most are self- cleaning. However, you should remember that gas barbecues are considerably more expensive than the simple freestanding charcoal barbecues. The best barbecue for you will depend a great deal on how often you are going to use it.

q George Wise is managing director of NatWest UK Mortgage Services.

q Send your queries on practical property issues to the following address: Home Truths, 'Independent on Sunday', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, fax: 0171-293 2043; e-mail: