14.12.2015

Dear neighbours

Many things can annoy in residential neighbourhood

Neighbourhood relationships are regulated in Act of neighbourhood relations, which has been provided in 1920 and edited many times thereafter. In this act it is, for example forbidden to set up a toilet so that causes an obvious impediment to your neighbour. Furthermore, is not allowed to pouring the sewage on the neighbour’s side of the property. You cannot build a windmill more near than 15 metres from your neighbour’s yard, garden or wooden building. If your roof is directed to your neighbour’s yard, rainwater cannot drop on his side of the property. Obviously, You cannot either dig up your own land so that your neighbour’s building loses its support and risk to collapse. In a case of risk of collapse of the building, the neighbour is entitled to take necessary actions, in case of high risk of damages.

Branches or roots growing over to your side of the property can cause conflicts, especially in a tightly built residential area. According to the provision, such branches and roots can be removed if the neighbour himself is not removing them in a reasonable time after received notice, providing that these roots or branches are subject to harm.

A property, building or an apartment cannot be used in a way that causes an unreasonable burden to neighbours, persons living nearby or to another building or apartment. from eg. a harmful substances, carbon black, dirt, dust, smell, humidity, noise, shake, radiation, light, heat or other corresponding influence In other words the neighbour needs to tolerate some interference, but the burden should not be unreasonable. Local circumstances, regularity of as well as duration and powerfulness of the burden, but also the moment of its appearance are circumstances that need to be taken into consideration when evaluating the unreasonableness.

The one who is responsible of causing an unreasonable burden, is obligates to remove the burden and compensate any possible damages.

In its decision 1992:19 the Supreme Court evaluated harm caused by the landscape becoming less attractive. The case at hand dealt with a noise barrier built by a company private residence. According to neighbours this noise barrier ruined the landscape. The Supreme Court rejected the claim, as the harm caused by the noise barrier was only esthetical and could not, in the courts opinion, be a substantial burden justifying compensation. .

Not long ago the Supreme Court gave a decision concerning Molly Malone’s pub and hotel Carlton in Helsinki (2015:21). The claim concerned noise. The pub has operated in this estate since 1994 and hotel Carlton moved in next door as late as 2008. The hotel demanded compensation for damages, because two hotel rooms were constantly useless due to noise harm caused by the Pub. It was a fact that the noise was above allowed limits and that it had harmful consequences to health of the customers in two of the hotel rooms. Placing customers in these rooms during evenings and nights was therefore out of the question. The Pub argued that its business could not constitute a major burden, as the hotel was well aware of the Pub when moving in to the property. The Pub, however, was obliged to pay 65.000 euros in damages. The amount was settled, taking into consideration that the hotel was aware of the Pub when moving in and it have not examined the possible noise and its consequences in advance.

The best way to handle disputes between neighbours is by trying to settle the dispute amicably. Getting a court decision can easily take around two years, which is a long time if you are suffering from your neighbour’s actions. A trial could do more harm than good to the neighbour relations. Little things are not worth fighting over, because a burden is illegal only when it becomes unreasonable. Neighbours need to put with many things as only the unreasonableness of the action will justify compensation.

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