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Get all your legal questions answered – part two

Following the Taylor Bracewell Q&A in our March/April edition of the Doncaster Echo, there were a number of your questions we couldn’t fit into our magazine. Here, we round off your questions, expertly answered by our friends at Taylor Bracewell.

Be sure to keep your questions coming by emailing with any legal worries or concerns. 

Hi, I’m a father to a beautiful 7-month-old boy that I haven’t been able to see for 2 months now, I have no convictions and there is no reason why except from the mother’s selfishness. Can she legally do this?
As there are no court orders in place regarding the time you spend with your son, your former partner is not in breach by preventing you spending time with him. If you are named on the birth certificate you will have parental responsibility. It is open to you to make an application to court for a childs arrangement order which would provide times and days for you to see your son. However, before making such an application, you would have to make a referral to a local family mediation service. It may be possible for you to reach an agreement there without having to refer to court but if not, the mediator will sign a form permitting you to make the application.

My daughter is 16 and she is dating a 30-year-old man! He is hated by the family and has nothing to offer her future. What can I legally do to stop this? She’s adamant that she is in love and wishes to marry him, I refuse to give her my wishes on this, but she said she will wait till she is 18 if she has to! Legally where do I stand?
Your daughter would not be able to marry her partner without your consent until she is 18 years of age, at which time she will not require your consent. In Scotland you can marry from the age of 16 with or without parental consent.

My neighbour wants me to remove a tree from my garden because its blocking his sunlight, but I don’t want to remove it, I like the tree! It is on my land, does this mean I don’t have to remove the tree?
Thank you for your question. Firstly, you need to check whether the tree has a Tree Preservation Order on it.  If so, it may be that the tree cannot be removed without permission sought from the Council.  Additionally, if you are in a Conservation area notice may still have to be given to the Council before any works are commenced.

You need to check your deeds to see if there are any requirements outlined therein regarding plants or trees on your land or how the use of your property may be restricted by your neighbours.

If the above do not apply, then your neighbour may be able to cut off any branches that overhang your property.  But if you do not want your neighbour to do this then you may wish to offer to do so on their behalf.  This may keep neighbourly relations and mean that you have control of what is cut off the tree.

Whilst there is not an automatic right to light there may be a legal right in the title.  Therefore, again your deeds should be checked for this.  You also need to consider the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003.  This covers hedges and trees that are over 2 metres tall.  This will apply if you have a number of hedges or more than one tree and could mean that your neighbour could raise a complaint to the Council.

Finally, consideration has to be given as to whether your tree either above or below ground is causing any damage to your neighbour property as this may lead to you having to pay damages to your neighbour. Disputes can be costly and it is likely that such would have to be declared if you ever sold your house.  Therefore, it is always better to try to resolve matters with your neighbours if possible, amicably.

I had a builder come and do some work on my house, I paid a deposit on the work and he did begin, once I complained about him and his workers turning up late all the time, or rearranging last minute, he just didn’t show one day, I have a half completed extension and he told me that he has completed what I have so far paid for. We never agreed when I would give him final payment but he is now ignoring my calls and texts saying that I have the rest of the money if he will complete the job. I don’t know what to do as I don’t think the deposit covers what I have received so far and he won’t reply!
I am unsure if you have any written agreement with the builder or not.  If there is, then it needs to be carefully checked.  But I can see that you did not agree when a final payment would be made.   Contracts without a written agreement can be difficult for both parties as it could be a matter of one parties’ word against another’s as to what was agreed.

You do need to speak to another builder or expert to try and establish if the works that have been carried out so far have been to a reasonable standard and also what the cost will be to complete the works.  If there is an issue with the quality of the work, there may be a claim under the Consumer Rights Act

You need to send a letter to the builder inviting him to complete the contract.  If he does not, then you may be able to bring a claim against him for breach of contract.  At the same time, you should consider raising the issue with Trading Standards.  Also check to see if the builder is a member of any trade association that you could raise the issue with.  You need to check to see if the builder took out any insurance to cover for when works are started and not completed.  You may also want to check your insurance policies to see if you have any legal cover that may offer assistance.

My neighbour plays his music from the early hours of the morning near enough every day, I’ve tried being polite and friendly and asking if he will turn it down, he does for that morning and then the next one it’s the same again! I’ve wrote him letters too, and yet most days it’s the same thing, I work nights so need my sleep in the mornings and this can begin between 6 and 7 am on a morning, just as I’m trying to get some rest. What can I do legally?

Firstly, I would always recommend speaking to your neighbour.  However, here you have and unfortunately it has not resolved matters. Your question does not state if your neighbour is the owner of the property.  If it is a rented property, then you may wish to contact the landlord.  If the property is council owned, then I would suggest that you speak to the council.

Make sure that you keep a note of all of the times that loud music is played as you may need to show that this is more than a ‘one-off’.

You can ask your local council for help if your neighbour is playing loud music and that this a nuisance or damaging your health.  They are obliged to investigate and could seek to take action against your neighbour.  This could be a Noise Abatement Order and /or a fine.  The Council may place noise monitoring equipment in your property to monitor the same. The council may be able to offer mediation with your neighbour to see if a compromise could be reached.  If your neighbour is ever abusive or threatening then you can contact the police.

You could look at taking a claim against your neighbour through the Civil Courts.  This can be costly and therefore I would recommend seeking legal advice before taking this action.

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