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Our quiet cul-de-sac has been overrun by rowdy students. What can we do?

Property Clinic: Issues of anti-social behaviour should be dealt with through pragmatic and constructive engagement in the first instance

My family and I live in what used to be a quiet cul-de-sac beside a third-level college. The street has 20 semi-detached houses mainly occupied by families, some in their original homes, passed down through the years.

The summer before the pandemic, one house was sold at the centre of this circle. It was bought by an individual who claimed he was renovating it for his son, who was returning from abroad. However, as September approached, the house appeared to be filled with up to 10 students.

The 140sq m (1,507sq ft) house was originally in two apartments but has since been divided into seven bedrooms, three bathrooms, a sittingroom and a small kitchen. The garage has been converted. A search on the local authority website doesn’t show any planning permission lodged for the conversion of the house.

In the past year we have had to deal with a litany of issues caused by the residents of this house, including late-night noise, rubbish being placed in or beside neighbours’ bins, and the illegal parking of cars, blocking access to houses, and on occasion, the road. Indeed, there have been occasions where a service bus has been prevented from collecting and dropping home a person with a disability who lives on the road.


Meanwhile, the house looks like a modern-day tenement with clothes hung in windows and one black bin often overflowing with rubbish.

The house rents for €6,000 per month, a figure we are told in response to complaints justifies the right to entertain while disturbing neighbours past midnight.

Another house on the street has recently come up for sale, and we have learned that a person who already owns a house on our street is competing to purchase it, for student accommodation.

We would be grateful for advice on how we can put a stop to the existing rental, preventing the same from happening again.

Our homes are our sanctuary, writes Noel Larkin. At its most basic level this means a place where we can have quiet enjoyment, private space and a general feeling of wellbeing. Enter the noisy neighbour, students, poorly parked cars, howling dogs or extension works that seem unending and our blissful nirvana can quickly become a living hell.

Planning law is concerned with the protection of neighbours’ rights. This places restrictions on such things as use, particularly where this will impact on the amenity of adjoining properties. The conversion of the property, however, from two units into one and the garage conversion is likely to be exempt development. It is generally understood that no change of use occurs.

There are no restrictions on the number of people that can occupy a house. I’ve known families of 16 reared in small townhouses in the past.

The issue here is unruly behaviour that can sometimes be typical of students living in close quarters. If I cast my mind back to my own student days – while not as unthoughtful as your neighbours – I’d have to admit our presence did not go unnoticed in our small estate.

We sometimes can become overinvolved in finding fault. These faults can then become magnified in our own minds. Our irritation can be exaggerated particularly if we feel that our protestations are falling on deaf ears. I note that you have already “had words” with your neighbours following a late-night party.

In my opinion, the solution to your problem can only be solved by pragmatic and constructive engagement with your neighbours. I think this should be done by representatives of a residents’ committee. One or two people should call on your neighbours. Perhaps not yourself if you have previous “history” with them.

The representatives could advise the students on any issues affecting the cul-de-sac that might be of interest to them. If there are any meetings of residents coming up, they should be informed and invited to send someone along. The delegation could explain how parking, waste disposal etc is generally handled on the road for the benefit of all.

A “twin-track” discussion with the landlord may also yield positive results, particularly if he is the person you refer to who is in the market for a second property.

I find that most people are reasonable. If the students are made aware that their action or inaction is disturbing or restricting their neighbours, it is likely that things will be corrected. It’s important to remember that they too are residents, and if treated as such, I’d expect to see a marked improvement in their behaviour.

I’d advise you to keep records of everything and if things don’t change other potential options include contacting the college in question, the local authority or even the Garda.

Noel Larkin is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland