OPINIONThinking Allowed

Resolving a Dispute with your Neighbour

By Mariam Mokhtar

A neighbourly dispute can be a living nightmare. It does not matter if you live in a small village, or a big city. What do you do, when you try to resolve matters, but the offending party just makes rude hand gestures and insults you with, “Go stay in the jungle”?

Frustrated, you go to the authorities, hoping that they may help to lessen your pain, but you find that things are no better.

You are shunted from pillar to post. No-one appears willing, to resolve your problem. You do not feel that it warrants a police report, but when the authorities say, “Do it for your protection”, you start to fear the worst.

You are law-abiding and do not wish to do anything illegal, so what can you do? Going to court is an expensive and time consuming affair. Are there mediators available? Is there a solution?

A former Tarcisian Convent pupil, who moved to Sungai Petani, has lived in her single storey, terrace house, for the past ten years.

Her neighbour, whom I will call Mr Tan, moved to a larger house. She imagined that she would soon be welcoming new neighbours, but Mr Tan left the house vacant. He also left three dogs to guard the premises.

Being a dog lover herself, this lady knew that in these types of houses, tenants were only allowed to keep one dog. This was not her immediate concern.

The dogs were left neglected, sometimes, for up to five days. Mr Tan would return to the empty house, to feed the dogs, and left jars of water, for them.

The lonely dogs would howl throughout the night. Dog mess accumulated on Mr Tan’s drive and when it was hot, the smell of faeces and urine, would waft onto her premises, making her, her family and any visiting friends, gag.

Worse was to follow, when dog fleas, “big tics” as the lady described them, then started to crawl into her house.

She attempted to talk to Mr Tan about the flea infestation, but he responded by saying that he did not know what to do, and he did not appear to take the matter seriously.

Frustrated by the lack of action, she took the matter to the local council. When they came,  to investigate, they found out that the dogs were unlicensed.

Mr Tan was fined, and he removed two of the dogs.

Incensed that he had been reported to the council, and fined, for keeping unlicensed dogs, whenever Mr Tan washed his dog, he would use a power hose, to flush the dog mess towards his neighbour’s entrance.

Now, the lady’s family and friends have to jump over the moat of faecal sludge in front of their gates.

The aggrieved family has a child, who is autistic, and had to be kept indoors, lest she should fall into the sludge, at the entrance to their premises.

The local council alleged that  they are unable to help, and one member of staff claimed that he was unable to settle disputes, as his expertise is in dog licensing.

The local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, allege that their powers are limited. Aware that the dog is neglected, they claim that they can do nothing unless a vet, with a court order, enters the premises to remove the dog.

Perhaps, this lady could seek the help of the neighbour on the other side of Mr Tan. In addition to the problem of the neglected dog, Mr Tan’s garden is unkempt; creepers and weeds, encroach onto other people’s premises.

If many neighbours were to lodge a complaint, Mr Tan may realise that his anti-social behaviour is upsetting many people, not just one neighbour.

The affected family is aware that Mr Tan is breaching public health and pollution laws, and they could approach the environmental health department to deal with the nuisance.

They should be able to resolve this matter on an informal basis, on behalf of the people who live beside and adjacent to Mr Tan.

If Mr Tan persists, and continues to foul the road and entrance of his neighbour’s premises, the Department of Health might be able to serve notice on Mr Tan to stop his actions.

Hopefully, the aggrieved woman will not need to send a letter, from a solicitor, to show Mr Tan that she is serious about her complaint.

Perhaps, you have a better solution, which you can share with Ipoh Echo readers.

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