Ballymoney man fears losing his home following dog barking claims

A BALLYMONEY man claims he could lose his home following 'false' complaints of 'excessive dog barking causing annoyance/nuisance'.

Wednesday, 15th September 2010, 1:23 pm
Updated Monday, 20th September 2010, 3:51 pm

The Seymour Drive resident, who does not wish to be named, says he’s suffering sleepless nights and depression over the ‘unsubstantiated accusations’ issued by the Housing Executive earlier this month.

According to the man, he has done everything in his power to prevent the situation even appealing for a barking monitor to be installed into his home.

He explained: “Last year I got word from Ballymoney Borough Council and the Housing Executive that they had received complaints about my dog barking.

“Paddy is a wee Cocker Spaniel pedigree and I would never let him out on his own. Every morning he goes out and he might bark a little - no more than 20 minutes and that’s it. He’s then in the flat the rest of the day until I come home and there’s not a peep out of him.

“I really wanted to prove these complaints were false and so I did everything in my power. I even asked the Executive to install a barking monitor - which they never did - and went to see Karen Mitchell from Ballymoney Borough Council and got advice.

“Then on July 30 2010 I received a letter from the Housing Executive stating: ‘I refer to the report received by the Housing Executive in relation to nuisance/anti-social behaviour. The District Office has fully investigated the matter and as there have been no further incidents since, the Housing Executive has closed the file from July 29 2010. Please do not hesitate to contact the office should the situation change and I will ensure that reports of new incidents are fully investigated’.

“I was obviously delighted that the matter was over, even though the accusations were unsubstantiated.”

However just over a month letter, the man got another letter from the Housing Executive stating that they had received ‘a number of complaints in relation to excessive barking from your dog causing annoyance/nuisance’.

He continued: “The second letter said that I was in breach of my tenancy obligation because of the behaviour described and that such a breach entitles the Housing Executive to seek possession of my home.

“I just couldn’t believe it. I went straight to the Housing Executive in Ballymoney to discuss the issue, however was told I couldn’t get an appointment for a week. I then phoned the Executive in Belfast and am still waiting for an explanation.

“I then went to see Karen Mitchell at the Council to see if I could get a special collar to stop Paddy barking - even though he isn’t even barking it would at least show that I’m doing everything possible to prevent the situation.

“I have lived in my flat for over seven years and have had Paddy for over five years and nothing has changed over the years.

“This whole situation is not doing my mental health any good. I am trying to be reasonable about the whole thing, getting a collar and appealing for a barking monitor, but I’m not being met half way.

“I’ve not slept since I got the second letter as I fear that the Housing Executive are going to take away my home and leave me on the streets. The letter is very harsh and to say they are entitled to seek possession of my home - what evidence do they have?

“I just feel I am at their mercy and don’t know which way to turn.”

In response to the complaint a spokesperson from the Housing Executive explained: “The Housing Executive, in conjunction with the Dog Warden, had successfully worked with this man earlier in the summer to resolve a complaint regarding his dog.

“We have recently written to the tenant on a subsequent similar complaint and in following this up have in the past week discussed the issue with him.

“We are hopeful that this has enabled the situation to be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

“The Housing Executive investigates all complaints it receives and works with those involved to resolve these, where possible, by agreement so that more serious action can be prevented in the vast majority of cases.”