Jackson Boyd is a property dispute specialist but that doesn’t mean we don’t come across cases that surprise us.
The recent issue of The Journal wrote briefly about a Hong Kong couple who were taking a property nuisance claim against their neighbours. Following on from our previous articles, including (my personal favourite article title to date) Neighbours from Smell, the news of a property nuisance claim between neighbours wasn’t surprising; however, what was surprising was the reason behind the claim – that reason being bad feng shui, allegedly created by their neighbours hanging of underwear and pointing of shoes.
In addition to bad feng shui, the couple say their neighbours hung the underwear on illegal metal hangers and drying racks facing their flat. They also accused the family’s sons of throwing parties that lasted until 6am.
Speaking from personal experience appearing in front of Sheriffs, I have my doubts as to how well explaining feng shui – a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy – and how bad feng shui amounted to nuisance would go (my guess would be not very!).
For those wondering, it has been confirmed by an expert on feng shui that the hanging of underwear and direction of the shoes should not create any issues.
Feng shui aside, we frequently find the difference between what constitutes general nuisance and legal nuisance causes confusion to our clients.
Generally, nuisance is defined as “a person or thing causing inconvenience or annoyance.” The same cannot be said for a “legal nuisance”, which can be regarded as damage or intolerable interference with an individual’s use or enjoyment of their property that ordinary people would consider unreasonable. This is expanded on in my colleague’s previous article:
“Although there isn’t an exact legal definition, a good starting point is to consider if the activity complained of is unreasonable (in the eyes of the law). A variety of factors shall be considered in determining if an activity is unreasonable, such as the social utility of the activity, the locality of the property (i.e is this activity usual/common having regard to the location of the property) and the duration and intensity of the activity. This test will almost always come down to the particular facts and circumstances of each case.”
There are two ways of addressing a legal nuisance claim under Scots law, either through common law or through the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Whilst we will refrain from commenting on our thoughts of the likely success of the feng shui case, we would be happy to assist you with resolving a property nuisance dispute. For more information please contact us online by clicking here or speak to a member of our specialist team on 0333 222 1855.