My neighbour’s dogs bark all day. What can I do?
Your property queries answered
If a dog is of nuisance to other residents by barking, the owner of the animal is in breach of the governing lease agreement. Photograph: Thinkstock
Q My boyfriend and I are currently renting an apartment in a large development in south Dublin. Pets are not allowed in the complex and this was one of the deciding factors for me when we chose to move in as I have had bad experiences with loud dogs in the past.
It turns out, however, that the neighbour who rents the apartment on one side of me has two dogs. To be fair, she walks them in the evenings and they are generally quiet when she is at home in the evenings. I work from home regularly, however, and she leaves the two dogs in her apartment from about 8am to 6pm on weekdays. Needless to say, they bark for most of the day.
I am not sure how to resolve this as I don’t want to fall out with my neighbour as she has rented here for years and we like the place otherwise. I have tried discussing it with her which was completely pointless and got me absolutely nowhere. I have brought it up with our landlord but he has not assisted us in resolving this issue at all.
I get the impression my neighbour is allowed to do what she likes as she has been living here so long. As the owners and tenants in the other nearby apartments work during the day, this doesn’t really affect anyone else.
Who should I approach next? I really don’t want to have to move out.
A Traditionally animals of nuisance are not permitted in a multi-unit development in the majority of cases. That is to say if a dog is of nuisance to other residents by barking, the owner of the animal is in breach of the governing lease agreement binding the landlord of their property to the owners’ management company.
This matter should be raised by your landlord with the owners’ management company (OMC) if there is indeed a breach of the lease. It is also likely that the issue of animals of nuisance is detailed in the developments’ house rules. This is a document that would have been included in your lease agreement with your landlord and in practice should be on display in the development lobbies. It is very unlikely that any redress from the OMC will resolve the matter if the dog owner is ignorant to your issues as it is not empowered to provide any meaningful enforcement.
If the dog owner fails to mitigate the nuisance you have an option in law available to you in dealing with the occupier of the property directly.
Section 25 (2) of the Control of Dogs Act, 1986 allows for a person to submit a complaint to the District Court pertaining to a person in control of a barking dog that is of nuisance to them. You will also be required to give a written notice to the dog owner in a prescribed format as set out in the Act. It would be prudent to have a comprehensive written record of the times and dates of the alleged nuisance. If the court finds that a nuisance was caused by excessive barking it may direct the following three outcomes;
– Order the occupier to abate the nuisance by exercising proper controls over the dog(s)
– Make an order for the number of animals that the occupier may keep on the premises
– Direct the dog(s) to be delivered to the dog warden should they be deemed to be unwanted by the occupier.
Paul Huberman is a member of the property and facilities management professional group committee of the SCSI scsi.ie
Q I am a shopkeeper and have had a shop in Dublin for almost 35 years. My lease is coming to an end later this year and the landlord, who I have never had any issues with, is saying he is only willing to let me stay if I take a new lease for at least 10 years. I’m almost 60 and while I don’t want to retire just yet I don’t want to commit to another 10 years. What are my options other than accepting the new 10 year lease?
A Upon lease expiry, a business tenant may qualify for renewal rights under current legislation. The primary legislation in this area comprises of the Landlord and Tenant Amendment Acts 1980 and 1994. The right to a new tenancy is further amended by section 47 of The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008, allowing business tenants to “contract out” of their statutory entitlement to a renewal of their lease.
Tenancy renewal rights will depend on whether there has been five years continuous occupation by the tenant and whether the property has been used for business purposes, both conditions you clearly satisfy.
In the absence of reaching agreement on new lease terms, you should apply to the Circuit Court to make an order for a new lease. I note that you are reluctant to take on a 10 -year lease, however you should consult with a chartered surveyor to establish whether such a lease would have a value taking into account attributes such as location and established goodwill. Your application to the courts should state your lease term preference.
The court has the final say on the terms of the new lease taking into account such matters as the duration of the original lease, current market practices, prevailing rent review provisions and the level of the revised rent. The revised rent shall in the opinion of the Circuit Court equate to the current o pen market rent, disregarding any tenant improvements and goodwill.
The courts may refuse to renew the lease if the landlord can prove that there has been a substantial breach of the current lease terms and conditions or that repossession is required for the purposes of planned development. In your case neither appears to be the case.
Eamonn Maguire is chairman of the SCSI Commercial Agency Professional Group Committee scsi.ie
Q I purchased an apartment in a modern block a few years ago. At first I thought I was cursed with extremely noisy neighbours but they have since moved on and I now realise it is the walls – they are paper thin. I can hear every little noise my neighbour makes and she’s not particularly loud (I’m lucky in that there are only tenants on one side of me as the other apartment has been vacant for some time). I’m not in a position financially to invest in upgrading my apartment to try and minimise noise and don’t know if I would have permission to change the walls in some way anyway. Is there a cheap solution to blocking out sound? I’d appreciate any advice you can give me.
A Your problem is one I come across often and really there is no quick or cheap solution . In accordance with the 1992 building regulations, there are clearly defined standards of sound insulation that need to be achieved in party-wall construction. It is not uncommon to find problems in the standards of sound insulation in older properties but having such thin walls and poor sound proofing should not happen in a modern block such as the one you have purchased in. While I cannot confirm the actual construction of your apartment, it may well be that the apartment already meets the required sound insulation standards which unfortunately are not very high.
There are various options open to you and the recommended steps for soundproofing include infilling holes or gaps in the party walls with a dense mortar mix or upgrading the sound insulation with a noise-insulating material. However as you live in an apartment it is quite unlikely that there are gaps between your apartment and your neighbour’s one (and indeed the vacant one on the other side of you) that you could infill to reduce noise transfer from airbourne sources, for example: voices on the radio or television, vacuuming or door banging.
In your case, I feel the best solution to solving your issue would involve constructing a relatively thin layer of perhaps a cement and sand rendering (no more than 22mm thick) or alternatively applying a sound block plasterboard layer or layers. This would improve the sound insulation and while it would lessen the space in your room, this would be a minimal impact overall.
If this is the option you choose to proceed with, I would recommend contacting your local Chartered Building Surveyor to advise you.
Val O’Brien sits on the building surveying professional group of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland scsi.ie