HOME TRUTHS: Gun-toting neighbour is not just scaring squirrels


I am friends with my neighbour but I am concerned by his practice of regularly shooting a pellet gun at squirrels from an upstairs window. I am worried that stray pellets could cause harm to me and my visitors.

As I have not found a dead squirrel or pellet in my garden, however, I have had problems convincing authorities that this is an offence.

Under threat: Red squirrels are protected but there are legal ways of controlling grey squirrels

Under threat: Red squirrels are protected but there are legal ways of controlling grey squirrels

If you are friends, it is hard to understand why you cannot have a gentle word with him. Technically it might not be an offence so long as the pellets do not leave his property, but it is virtually impossible for him to guarantee this.

Direct him towards other legal means of controlling squirrels. Assuming that you live in an area populated only by grey squirrels – the red squirrel is a protected species – your neighbour could use either an approved spring trap or a live trap.

If using a live trap, he must then kill any squirrel that has been caught either by chasing it into a sack and dispatching it with a blow to the head, or by shooting it with his air rifle.

Visit www.naturalengland.org.uk and look for Technical Information Note TIN056.

SCAFFOLDING – BUT NO SIGN OF BUILDING WORK

A neighbour has had scaffolding around his house for two years.

In that time he has not used it to undertake any work. He is a builder and I’m told that this is a way of storing his scaffolding.

Storage? How do you get a neighbour to take down scaffolding he hasn't been using for years?

Storage? How do you get a neighbour to take down scaffolding he hasn't been using for years?

Scaffolding is generally regarded as a temporary structure not requiring planning permission. Given the time that this scaffolding has been up, it seems to be acquiring permanence.

Call the enforcement officer at your local authority. Perhaps the scaffolding is hiding something that does require planning permission and your neighbour – like the Surrey farmer who built a castle behind a haystack – is trying to take advantage of the fact that after a structure has been in existence for four years, no enforcement action can be taken.

RETIREMENT FLAT IS COSTING ME A FORTUNE

I inherited a retirement flat a year ago. It is in a good location and I have redecorated it but it has attracted little interest from buyers. Estate agents tell me they can sell ‘normal’ flats in days.

The lease states that I can sell or rent it only to someone over 65 who is ‘capable of maintaining an independent lifestyle’. I am having to pay the ground rent, service charge and council tax.

Explain the situation to your local authority and ask if it would offer you a discount on council tax if you moved out the furniture: councils have discretionary powers to offer a 50 per cent reduction on unfurnished homes that have been empty for six months.

As far as selling is concerned, consider lowering the price.

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