Neighbour bans


Story Details

75 year old Mitch North is banned from his own home. Increasingly across Australia those of us sharing common walls and fences are feeling anything but neighbourly love.

So much so, police, are called to more than 115 neighbour disputes every day.

For Mitch North the war with his neighbours started three years ago when a new body corporate took over a small unit block on the Gold Coast.

Mitch North doesn't look like a fighter but he's up on assault charges after an ongoing disagreement with neighbours. "They are anti-me before they start", Mitch said.

He's also taking a stand against body corporate group -- Australian Unit Administration -- because he believes there's an agenda to have him booted out of his complex. He accuses the body corporate of turning neighbours against him -- it's a fight certainly not doing him any favours.

His battle and the block are now well known to police.

The only fight Mitch is winning is in the courts; he's been arrested five times since the dispute started and each time had the charges dropped. His most recent charge assaulting a neighbour, is yet to be heard but until it is he can't go home.

Nor can Petrice Vale, dubbed Australia's worst neighbour. Petrice was dragged through the court six times and jailed for inflicting a reign of terror in her street. She too was banned to give her neighbour's peace.

Lawyer Bill Potts says it happens more often than you think. "John Paul Sartre once said that hell is other people and this particular case a bad neighbour can make your own house a living hell", Bill said.

He says these suburban fights often end in costly court battles and often judges have to drastic action to keep the peace.

For Aruna it's not an Apprehension Violence Order keeping her out, rather the building code and a neighbour who is a stickler for the rules.

Termites ate away her foundations but the damage they caused ended up being the least of her worries. She says it has cost her more than $100,000 for solicitors, the town planners and council, back and forth.

The former owner never had approval to convert Aruna's garage into living space and now Aruna needs her neighbour Dubravke Kranjcic's approval for the illegal extension to be able to live in the house -- but both women are locked in a legal standoff.

James and Elaine Knocker ended up in court, after a 19 year feud with their neighbour. The latest stoush was over a fence on boundary line of their home.

Elayne Knocker says they are sworn enemies and police visits are a regular occurrence -- today is no different.

The rotting fence dispute saw them in court five times. Nearly two decades on, a new fence divides the properties but allegations of abuse and intimidation still fly -- both sides accuse each other but only the Knockers would go on camera.

A fence which cost $700 to build ended up leaving the Knockers thousands of dollars out of pocket. What they happily paid for were the sheets of timber to block out the other side.

Thousands of fights like this are going on across the country - -more than three and a half thousand went to mediation just last year.

So -- choose your neighbours wisely.