Neighbours at war lodge legal threat to landlords

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A Queenstown couple are in a bitter war with neighbours – and the same landlord they feuded with 14 years ago.
Fernhill’s Brenda and Mark Douglas – at 20 Dart Place – claim verbal abuse and stereo noise from neighbouring tenants is making their lives hell. 

“We have to endure appalling language, personal abuse, taunt­ing, urinating in full view against walls and on balconies, regular loud arguments in the early hours of the morning, dogs barking,” Mark says. 

Verbal abuse like calling Brenda a fatty had traumatised her, and one tenant had yelled at her to “suck my d…”, Mark says. 

The upstairs tenants at 18 Dart Place deny abuse and say any problems were caused by downstairs tenants, recently evicted.

Mark claims: “Brenda was at a stage where she didn’t care whether she lived or died. They were making threats like, ‘We’ll outlive you’.” 

The pair who’ve lived there almost 20 years say they feel powerless despite regular complaints to police and noise control. 

They’re urging the 18 Dart Place owners Jimmy Allen and John Souter to evict their tenants and are threatening legal action if the noise and abuse continues. 

A letter from Mactodd lawyer John Troon to Allen this month says they’ll complain to official agencies and take civil action for damages against the tenants and landowners “if these behaviours are allowed to persist”. 

It’s not the first battle between the Douglases and Souter – he owned 18 Dart Place back in 1998 during a 27-month feud, which included 76 noise complaints. 

At the time, Souter had moved out and said you couldn’t do anything without annoying the Douglases –this week he branded them “the neighbours from hell”. 

“I don’t accept Mark Douglas’ and Brenda’s words at all. They just about have zero tolerance for anything that they don’t approve of. They’re ridiculous. 

“I haven’t heard anything from the police.” 

Souter says he’d take action if he heard a complaint from other nearby residents – and has also started monitoring the house himself. 

In response, Mark denies continually complaining, saying they’ve been tolerant for 12 years until new tenants moved in. 

Other neighbours hadn’t complained because they slept away from the noise on the other side of their houses, Mark says. 

Speaking to Mountain Scene this week, the four existing upstairs tenants deny abusing the Douglases. 

They say any verbal abuse came from downstairs tenants evicted last week. They upstairs foursome admit having a rowdy flatwarming in October but say they now turn off the stereo after 10pm. 

“We didn’t rent this house to have massive parties 24/7 and abuse neighbours – we’re here to live and work our jobs,” building apprentice Max Ovenden, 19, says. 

Stonemason George Browning, 22, says he and his flatmates have never dished out verbal abuse. 

“Their main issue was with the people downstairs but they’ve gone now. 

“They’re overly sensitive to noise. I’ll be sitting in the lounge by myself listening to quiet music and they’ll call noise control.” 

Kate McKenzie, 21, who manages Queenstown striptease joint The Cadillac Club, says: “We got so stressed with all of their complaints within the first week and we were so scared of losing our house, we barely did anything wrong. 

McKenzie claims one time Brenda loudly banged on a handrail with a spatula at 7am to wake them up. 

Mark says the upstairs tenants regularly stage noisy parties on their balcony and has no doubt that they are trying to provoke them. 

“It’s horrific to live with day after day.” 

The couple say they’ve regularly called council’s noise monitoring contractor – two noise complaints were laid this week. 

Police had also been called regularly following disturbances – eight times between December 28 and January 11 alone, Mark says. 

One call-out was after the Douglases claim a paling from their fence had been removed on January 3. 

Mark says victims have no rights despite the Residential Tenancies Act requiring tenants to “not disturb the neighbours”. 

When contacted, 18 Dart Place co-owner Allen – a Locations Realty agent – responded: “I don’t want anything in the newspaper about me or a photo of the house.” 

Allen did say he’d just evicted his downstairs tenants: “I’ve done everything possible to help.”