(Guest post by the Manna Society)
An 80-year-old pensioner was served with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) following a complaint by their upstairs neighbour alleging that the pensioner was hitting their ceiling at unsociable hours and disturbing them.
On receipt of the CPN, the pensioner brought it to the attention of the Manna Society, a charity running a day centre they were using daily. The pensioner was adamant that they were not responsible for the noise nuisance and could not be responsible due to health issues.
The pensioner was absolutely incensed – they had been resident for over 25 years, and up to now no complaints had ever been made by anyone including their housing provider. The pensioner said that they wanted to lodge an appeal. They also claimed to have been accosted by the complainant when leaving their home.
The charity assisted the pensioner to make that appeal, and then contacted their medical practice and invited the various parties involved to a video meeting, during which other reasons for the noise nuisance were explored and other means of resolution which had not been offered to the pensioner. The charity had also established from medical records that the pensioner’s physical complaint would make it almost impossible to undertake the action of which they were accused.
Following on from that meeting, the borough that had issued the CPN confirmed that they would be contesting the appeal. The local authority also approached the pensioner for permission to enter their property to determine if there might be other causes of the noise; however, the pensioner had developed such a deep distrust that they felt uncomfortable about allowing the local authority access.
The Manna Society enlisted the help of the Manifesto Club, and through them obtained the help of a para-legal from the Freedom Law Clinic to help prepare for a trial at Magistrates Court (given that legal aid is not generally available for CPNs and the pensioner only has access to a limited pension and could not afford to retain a solicitor). Just after the appellant received the local authority’s evidence, the local authority informed the appellant and the charity that they were not proceeding any further and withdrew the CPN – for which no reasons were given.
What was alarming is that the pensioner was served with a warning notice by their housing provider for possible breach of tenancy based on the CPN, thereby causing additional anxiety and distress to the pensioner about the possibility of losing their home.