Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Warning: contains grumbling, whinging, moaning and not a lot else.

2 years ago we moved into our flat. It’s quite small and has a damp problem but it came with a large communal garden that the children could play in. At the time our options were extremely limited and we were grateful to find somewhere to live. The children love playing in the garden – they build snowmen in the winter and have picnics in the summer. They’re always with an adult as the garden has an exit onto the road and they’re rarely out there for more than 20 minutes or so as we know that not everyone likes the sound of children playing (although the flats are less than 20m from a primary school!). This is the garden:

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A few weeks ago one of our elderly neighbours approached me and told me that he and two others own the garden and the children were not allowed in it. I queried this with the landlady who confirmed that she had no claim on any part of the garden and we had been misinformed by the letting agent. We had previously been friendly with the neighbour in question so were rather bemused as to why, after 2 years, he suddenly objected to the children occasionally playing in the garden. As he had been unusually unpleasant when we spoke I wrote him a letter asking (politely of course) why he had changed his mind and pleading with him to permit the children access. He didn’t respond. So yesterday I wrote him another letter, suggesting that as neither of the other owners had objected we would allow the children into the garden but keep them away from his part.

This morning he and another neighbour, again someone we had been friendly with, came to the door. They were very firm that the children were not to be permitted in the garden any more. When I asked why this was suddenly an issue the elderly neighbour complained that he had seen DH lying on the grass reading stories to DD, and the other neighbour said that she hadn’t been aware we used the garden until now. So now I have a very distraught 4 year old and a confused 18 month old, who no longer have a garden to play in.

There is a small patch of front garden attached to our flat and the neighbours suggested the children play out there. There’s no comparison really though – as you can see from the photos the garden at the back is large and spacious, while the patch attached to our flat at the front is small and next to the road. Cars often park on the pavement and frequently end up parked partly on the grass of the garden. This is it:

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I would love to move as a result of this, and find somewhere that does have a garden. But at the moment we’re on housing benefit – I’m not fit to work and DH is still hunting desperately for a job. There are no other rental properties in the village that our housing benefit will cover; there are in the adjacent town but then we would be out of the catchment for the fantastic primary school DD is due to start at in September. In addition to this we’re locked into our rental agreement until November so wouldn’t be able to move until then at the earliest.

I am so furious. I’m angry at the letting agent for leading us to believe that we had a right to use the garden. I’m angry at the neighbours for allowing the children to play in the garden for over 2 years and then suddenly ruling it off-limits. I’m angry that I’ve let my children down, that I couldn’t argue eloquently enough to persuade the neighbours to change their minds. I’m angry that we’re trapped here now, unable to move unless we win the lottery (which is unlikely as we don’t have the money to buy tickets!). I feel shut in, confined and crushed.

I know it’s a small problem in the scheme of things. There’s a playing field a few minutes walk away that we can take the children to, although of course they can’t have paddling pools and water fights there. Playing somewhere so public fires up my anxiety but the children do still have access to outdoor space so I guess I shouldn’t complain.

But I’m still angry.

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Comments on: "Not such a home sweet home" (16)

  1. I’m sorry, what… they object because your husband was reading stories to your daughter? What the hell kind of logic is that? Surely that’s a GOOD thing? I mean, have your children trampled on flowers or maimed wild animals? I’m guessing not – so that’s ridiculous!

    I don’t suppose you have the details of the original property ad’? I’m wondering if you can get the letting agent on false advertising perhaps.

    How infuriating!

    • Nope, no flower trampling or animal maiming. One of DD’s favourite things is trotting about with her watering can, watering the flowers.

      We don’t have the original ad unfortunately. I wish we did!

  2. That’s terrible hunny how can people be like that its not like they cause a disturbance! Where did these people think the snowmen come from? Big hug sweety wish I could magic u the perfect house xxxx

  3. That’s really awful of the letting agent for misleading you and the neighbours. And after so long!! I hope you get it sorted soon x

  4. You have not let your children down, their decision sounds like it was out of your control to be honest. If you argued with your neighbours as eloquently as you write then what more could you have done. We’re all trying our best.

    And you’re perfectly entitled to be upset about it, so don’t be hard on yourself for getting upset about “small things”. When I do that I get mad that I do not have a legitimate reason to be upset which makes matters worse. And you do have a legitimate reason.

    And I’d be furious at the letting agent too. they tell such porkies a lot of the time. Not on.

    • Thank you. It just seems so petty and such a small issue really – but it’s having a big effect on us, particularly in this hot weather! You’re right, I shouldn’t minimise it.

  5. This is so awful, I feel so cross on your behalf. Do the neighbours even use the garden all that much? Wish I could wave a magic wand for you.

    • I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve seen anyone else in the garden (apart from the man who cuts the grass). It’s usually empty & unused.

  6. I totally understand why you are angry. Nothing makes people so unreasonable as owning property. I just wish I could do something to make them see sense.

  7. I am assuming that it doesnt mention the garden in the lease (seeing as the letting agent is rubbish!!) id take over the front garden go to a 99p store and buy some little fencing to put along the grass so none can park on it and some garden decorations to make it pretty!! infact i will buy you some and send it down!!!! for goodness sake these people should be encouraging use of the garden by such a lovely family!
    xxx hugs xxx

  8. What a horrible thing to happen! It must have really soured your relationship with your neighbours. It isn’t fair to the children for them to say after 2 years you can’t play there, especially when they don’t seem to have a specific complaint.I think I would take over the front garden as someone suggested. You could put some big stones round the edges of the grass to deter carparking. Hope they have a change of heart or another property comes your way.

  9. I hate stuff like this! I deal with neighbour disputes similar to this all of the time at work where seemingly one party just decide that they aren’t tolerating something anymore and there is no explanation. If you hadn’t have been allowed to use the garden previously it would have been slightly unfair (I’d let kids play if I had a share in a garden), but since you’ve been friendly with the neighbours in the past and they’ve now turned horrible makes it even worse! I can totally understand why you’re mad, but all I can say is try to rise above it. You’ve gone about everything the right way so you’re safe in the knowledge that you are a reasonable person. Here’s hoping they change their mind love!

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