Revealed: 10 of Queensland’s worst neighbour disputes

 

More than 8000 complaints about barking dogs flooded in to Brisbane and Logan councils last financial year as cranky residents blew the whistle on their neighbours.

Thousands more complaints were received for everything from noisy lawnmowers and power tools, to feral backyards and builders waking up sleep-deprived homeowners.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) has meanwhile received 433 complaints about fences so far this year and 184 complaints about overhanging trees.

COVID has made the suburban feuds even worse, blowing out the time it takes QCAT to resolve matters to an average of six-eight months.

"The number of matters that come before QCAT vary year to year,'' the spokesman said.

"There has been a reduction in both cases lodged and finalised in the past financial year, primarily due to the impact the COVID-19 emergency has had on QCAT's operations.

"This has also affected the average wait time to finalisation of matters.''

 

YOUR TOP COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE NEIGHBOURS

Barking dogs - 5691 (Brisbane City Council) plus 1241 (Logan City Council)

Noisy machinery - 200 (BCC) and 131 (LCC)

Builders working outside legal hours - 374 (BCC) and 76 (LCC)

Unkempt/squalid properties - 19,000 from 2015-2018 (BCC), 318 (LCC)

 

Brisbane City Council said noise complaints were the main issue it was asked to tackle.

Loud music, violence and anti-social behaviour were matters for the police, it said.

Last financial year BCC received 7096 noise complaints, a large drop from the 9688 complaints in 2018/2019.

Animals, mostly dogs, accounted for the overwhelming number of noise complaints in the two years.

There were 5691 calls to BCC last financial year about noisy animals and even more - 7971 - the previous financial year.

The next most complained-about noise sources were "regulated devices'' such as lawnmowers, power tools and generators, with just under 400 cases in the past two years.

Builders working out of hours was also a significant issue, with 374 complaints last year and 559 the year before.

Surprisingly, there was not one complaint about the much-maligned leaf blower last year, and only two the year before.

"Council believes that many matters are often best resolved when neighbours talk to one another and work together to remedy any concerns or potential breaches,'' a spokeswoman said.

"Alongside Council officers who traditionally manage complaints, Council has a range of self-help options to help resolve noise disputes to assist neighbours to resolve issues without Council intervention.

"These include fact sheets with information about resolving a dispute, nuisance diaries and template letters to help people communicate with neighbours.''

Logan City Council said it received 95 complaints last financial year about pool pumps, airconditioners and other sources.

Building work on Sundays, public holidays and outside work hours (6.30pm to 6.30am) sparked 76 complaints, while noise from regulated devices accounted for another 131 complaints.

But barking dogs were also LCC's biggest source of neighbourhood tensions, with 1241 complaints in the year.

There were 318 issues of filthy and unkempt properties as well.

Here are some of the more memorable disputes this year.

 

Signs out the front of Rick Williams neighbours home at Banksia Beach. Picture: Ric Frearson
Signs out the front of Rick Williams neighbours home at Banksia Beach. Picture: Ric Frearson

RICK WILLIAMS

Perhaps the most high-profile case in recent years involved former Pumicestone MP Rick Williams.

At one stage he refused to pay his water and rates bills and was fined for spraying anti-council graffiti on his sea wall, although he denied any wrongdoing.

But his neighbours were even angrier with him than his local Council after his wife began operating a truck business out of his property, which is near million-dollar canal-front homes.

Neighbours said their street had been clogged with trucks, tow trucks and tractors driving too fast and the wrong way, and parked illegally.

The trouble began in about 2015 but as late as last year Mr Williams parked a truck outside his Ningi home to try to stop Council installing bollards to protect roadside vegetation from parked vehicles.

Other, elderly neighbours claimed Mr Williams verbally abused them when they confronted the ex-Labor MP about a jetty he claimed he owned.

Mr Williams has consistently denied any wrongdoing, despite a Department of Transport and Main Roads audit finding the truck business had not been operating legally.

Former Member for Pumicestone Rick Williams angered neighbours with his alleged behaviour. Picture: Jono Searle
Former Member for Pumicestone Rick Williams angered neighbours with his alleged behaviour. Picture: Jono Searle

 

 

 

DAMIEN PAUL BELSON

Caboolture Magistrates Court heard Belson, 37, became so angry after hearing his neighbour was having an affair with his wife that he hurled lumps of steel on the neighbour's roof.

Magistrate Peter Hasted fined Belson, who pleaded guilty to wilful damage, $500 for his actions but did not record a conviction.

 

HALIE MARGRET MCALEESE

An argument with her neighbour ended up with McAleese throwing a jam jar, a spanner and part of an electric fan on to the neighbour's roof overnight on April 12.

She was also fined $500 and had no conviction recorded.

 

MARGARET INUHAERE TAWHI

Tawhi, 56, was sentenced to a 12-month good behaviour bond on January 22 after she chased a man around her yard with an axe and smashed the windscreen of his car.

Her explosion came after a daylong drinking binge which ended in a fight about tobacco.

Terrified neighbours had to call police and Tawhi, who lost her job as a result, spent two nights in custody.

She pleaded guilty in Wynnum Magistrates Court to wilful damage and common assault.

No conviction was recorded.

 

JUDD JAMES GOODMAN

Goodman, 33, confronted his Mount Gravatt neighbour with a pair of scissors after an argument about a disused swimming pool on the block between them.

Goodman's lawyer said his client was concerned about mosquitoes breeding in the pool, and toads.

Goodman pleaded guilty to trespass and possessing a knife in a public place, after the October 26 incident. Convictions were recorded.

 

MAURICO SEVERIANO BELTRAN

The Spanish immigrant, 70, faced Holland Park Magistrates Court in June after attacking a neighbour outside his Upper Mount Gravatt unit with a cricket bat.

The court heard Beltran complained to his body corporate about constant loud music played by a neighbour, 63, before taking matters into his own hands on December 30.

The attack left the 63-year-old with a cracked rib.

Beltran was given a wholly suspended three-month prison sentence and a conviction was recorded.

 

ST LUCIA

Seven years and counting. That's how long St Lucia's Gervase Griffith has battled with the body corporate of a neighbouring unit block to have them remove, or trim, a huge poinciana tree.

Mr Griffith said the tree not only dropped leaves on his roof and shaded his solar panels, of much more concern to him was falling branches.

"We often have our grandchildren over, but we don't like them to sleep the night in the spare room because it's right under one of the big branches,'' he said.

Despite taking the matter to QCAT, the issue is still ongoing. Mr Griffith's is not giving up.

 

Logan District Police Inspector Glenn Allen with (l to r) Bob and Annette Clarey, Wendy Hoppe and Les Hoppe, and Mike Latter, celebrating the eviction of hell neighbours in their Bethania street. Picture: Annette Dew
Logan District Police Inspector Glenn Allen with (l to r) Bob and Annette Clarey, Wendy Hoppe and Les Hoppe, and Mike Latter, celebrating the eviction of hell neighbours in their Bethania street. Picture: Annette Dew

FEDERATION DRIVE/MONTROSE AVE, LOGAN

Tenants in two notorious social housing properties in Federation Drive and Montrose Ave, Bethania, were so awful neighbours organised their own protest march.

Frustrated neighbours lobbied their local MP and Council for three years after putting up with a methylamphetamine den in a caravan, car chases and witnessing the shocking torching of a dog.

One horrified neighbour shoved vegemite sandwiches through a window after being alerted to the cries of a starving infant inside one of the houses.

Police eventually conducted raids in February, removing a hydroponic system, and evicted the tenants.

 

SOUTHPORT

A Gold Coast woman who terrorised neighbours by screaming abuse and throwing plates was eventually evicted from her taxpayer-subsided unit in May after QCAT received more than 70 complaints from 20 neighbours.

The Department of Housing and Public finally managed to get the woman and her adult son turfed out due to her behaviour.

The complaints were made over about 18 months, but nine were lodged between March 26 and 31 this year.

It was the seventh Housing Commission home since 1999 for the woman, who has previously caused thousands of dollars damage at other Government houses in which she has been a tenant.

The tribunal suppressed her name.

Originally published as Revealed: 10 of Queensland's worst neighbour disputes