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Neighbour refusing to pay for shared bore

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Mr T View Drop Down
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  Quote Mr T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Neighbour refusing to pay for shared bore
    Posted: 08/July/2017 at 13:48
We have a shared bore on a small easement, the bore pump is owned by us (although the neighbour thinks he owns it, but he has no proof, we do) and it is powered from our home, so we pay for the electricity it uses.

The neighbour is required to pay us for his water usage, ie the electricity his usage causes the pump to use. This is part of the easement agreement. For the last 3 years he has refused to pay us due to unrelated disagreements (he does things like burning big piles of plastic, which is illegal and toxic, lets his animals run loose to cause damage etc, we had to call the council to stop him) and every time I bring it up he just screams "talk to my lawyer". I have submitted bills to his lawyer numerous times with no result, he just ignores them, assuming the lawyer is actually passing them on (I'm not convinced he does, they are both farmer buddies).

The problem is exacerbated by him having numerous leaks on his side that make the bore pump run every 8-10 mins, so it is causing excessive wear and tear on the pump as well as greatly increasing electricity usage. The easement agreement also requires that he only use water on the cottage grounds, ie for the house and garden, but he has stock troughs etc connected to it as well.

He is also aggressive and can be violent, 3 years ago he entered my property, was filming me with his phone all while accusing me of trespassing (he was standing in my front yard while saying this!). He was told to leave and refused, kept filming and hit me in the face with his phone, which I took off him and threw over the fence (to remove the weapon and give him a reason to leave). After shirtfronting me, I told him to let go, he backed down like most bullies do and left. I then called the police, who had a chat to him. I discovered later that the day before this incident he had been in the council offices and did the same to the staff there, they had to evacuate the front desk until he left. I state this as a bit of background to the type of person he is.

So, question is, having given him numerous warnings that we are getting tired of him stealing from us, where should we go from here? I have talked to a couple of govt depts and their response was "not our problem".

Am I within my rights to simply disconnect him after a written warning? He claims water rights, but my lawyer (who we have already paid a fair bit of money to with no positive result, I don't have much faith in him to be honest) says that the agreement implies that the neighbour has rights to the water, but not our pump etc. Given that we are the only side of the agreement that is actually abiding by the agreement, I would have thought the agreement is void and we can just give him written warning and then disconnect him? Or, is there any organisation/govt department etc that actually deals with this sort of disagreement?

I suspect if I did disconnect him, his lawyer mate would jump in and start threatening us, so it would end up in court. I would expect that, given the neighbour's past history and behaviour, we would be vindicated in court, but would rather it not get that far.

Edited by Mr T - 08/July/2017 at 13:49

emca01 View Drop Down
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  Quote emca01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/July/2017 at 13:37
your pump/ connected to your electricity... disconnect his hose

Mr T View Drop Down
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  Quote Mr T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/July/2017 at 18:04
Thanks, but I've got others on another forum telling me I shouldn't do this, rather get an injunction to make him fix the leaks, then go to court to recover costs etc. Sounds like a lot of effort and stress to be honest, it's pretty ridiculous that there isn't some simple arbiter system where you can apply to have the problem dealt with in a simple manner without having to go to the supreme court. My personal preference would indeed be to disconnect him, but I expect he would use his lawyer mate to make life hard for us if I did that, am pretty sure he is getting his legal help for free.

flash View Drop Down
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  Quote flash Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09/July/2017 at 19:16
Okay,here goes.
1:obtain copies of both you and your neighbours deeds,check carefully what is said on both,regarding the legal aspects of the bore.Report back here.
2:check with the relevant department[they are most helpful] the conditions of the licences,yours as well,'mgs'etc,don't stress about the water being used for stock.Most licences are "stock and domestic".Report back.
3:put a water meter on their pipe,on your land and charge per "mg"used,calculate the cost of the power used.Proof if you go to court invite them to the commissioning ceremony,transparency!
4:Failing that install a couple of tanks for own use,fill them,reduce your showers to a "quick canary"remove the pump and let them know that sadly it has developed a problem from over work and it has gone to the "pumphospital"and you will let them know when it will recover.
5:is the bore big enough for another pump to be dropped in,with its own power supply and meter?If that's possible I would seriously consider funding it to separate the two supplies
Been there done that,don't stress,right will triumph.

Mr T View Drop Down
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  Quote Mr T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/July/2017 at 10:33
1: I have a copy of both titles, the agreement is pretty much the same in each (just written for the opposite side of the fence really). He is required to have a meter fitted to measure water use (he doesn't), he is required to only use water on the cottage grounds (he doesn't, he uses it for stock as well), and he is required to pay us depending on water used, to be determined by a multiplication factor set out by Tas Hydro (listed as the Hydro Electric Commission or successor). Of course, that doesn't work as there is no meter. I have put a copy of the schedule of easements up here. Note that the names stated on the schedule are not those of the current owner, none of what I've written in this or previous posts applies to the people mentioned in the schedule, the schedule is just carried over with each new owner.

Before we moved in there was a simple agreement between the two properties that he would pay the owner of our house $25 a quarter for water, which was fine, except that I suspected he was using a lot more than that as the pump was running all the time. I spotted one of his stock troughs constantly overflowing and I calculated from the pump runtime that he was dumping about 8k litres a day on the ground, so for that bill I charged him appropriately based on the amount of electricity that the pump had used (I fitted an energy meter to it early on) minus our pumping use based on our previous water use, plus a fudge factor in case we were using more than previously. His usage cost was still conservative. Anyway, he paid that, but then started demanding to see my electricity bills, and it all went downhill from there. He did fix the trough leak though.

2: I did check with tas water or whatever they call themselves, and they said it was nothing to do with them. Basically, for old bores they appear to be hands off and no-one I talked to knew anything about it. I do know he has a spring-fed dam on his property with a 20ML/year allocation but I couldn't find any reference to water rights for the bore.

3: Putting a meter on his line won't help as he refuses to pay anyway, and will just be more expense for me that I will never recover. I really don't want this to go to court as I just don't have the time for that.

4: We have already installed a 2200L rainwater tank as a backup supply, my plan was to fit a float valve to it and use the bore to refill it once a week or so, with the bore remaining off most of the time. We need the pump to stay in place as the rainfall is becoming more variable, a summer or so back we had only one rain event in 6 months, would need very large tanks to cover that. While that is the plan, the $ for it are not available right now.

5: The bore has 2 pipes (it's a Davey 95 deep well pump with primer pipe) and I can't see why he couldn't tap into the main lift pipe, but this guy just refuses to do anything to improve the situation. I am not funding another $2k pump etc just for him to still refuse to pay us anyway. There's no reason why fitting a second pump would make him pay us for the electricity used.

I had a run-in with him at the local store a while back, he came up to me ranting about something and the "conversation" turned to the pump and when he was going to pay us. He just started parroting his usual "talk to my lawyer" line. I said to him "all this hassle could just go away if you paid what you owe and fix the leak, simple, what's the problem?" and his was response was to yell louder and then he left the store still ranting.

This is the type of person he is, talking to him if you don't know him, he seems perfectly normal, but if you do anything he doesn't like, it quickly becomes yelling, threats and even violence (as mentioned in my original post). But, he only acts that way if he doesn't need something from you. Because he uses the land and equipment of the local farmers here, he is all sweetness and light to them. It's quite amazing to watch, the complete bipolar sides to him, but they are controlled, he uses aggression when he thinks it will work. It doesn't work with us, so he just ignores us and is hoping we stop asking for what he owes us. I did know he was going to be a problem in the second week after we moved here, he was standing in the middle of his paddock screaming (and I don't mean talking loudly, I mean screaming) down the phone at, it turns out, a contractor who didn't turn up when he was supposed to. It was like listening to a crazy person, and he has also done the same to several others, even family members from what I've seen.

So really, I don't think right will triumph, it often doesn't in this world unfortunately, people like us often just cut our losses and wait for the problem to solve itself. Fortunately, he has the house up for sale, but given it was damaged in the 2014 storm and still hasn't been fixed (I know he was waiting for an insurance payout, but if he got it, it went elsewhere, he bought a new truck and tractor around that time), and I have an inkling that he doesn't have a cert of occupancy due to it being unlivable, I can't see it selling, given how much he wants for it and the fact that he is now running around 30 pigs in the small attached paddock (less than an acre) and they have turned the whole area into a quagmire. If I came to look at that place, I wouldn't give him anywhere near what he was asking for it. We did consider making a silent offer via our lawyer and fixing the cottage up and renting it out, but that would involve financial risk that we don't want to go into yet.

Edited by Mr T - 16/July/2017 at 10:55

Luisa View Drop Down
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  Quote Luisa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/July/2017 at 11:57
I like option 4 in your last post.

But since he clearly isn't abiding by the agreement and there is no authority around to enforce it, I would also say you can just disconnect his hose. You can always just get water carted, you don't need a pump.

I know it costs $$ but this is costing $$ too. Do a cost/benefit and see which would work out cheaper.

You have your tank in place and full, and then the pump goes to heaven. If he complains, tell him to talk to YOUR lawyer.

Maybe chat to the local police first about his temper and what can be done if he fronts up at your place.

Mr T View Drop Down
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  Quote Mr T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/September/2017 at 18:05
Sorry for the late response guys, my partner's dad got sick and died so she had to go overseas for a while and I was left holding the fort, caring for all the animals etc, and then into work deadlines, so haven't had time for much else lately.

Situation is, nothing seems to have changed, although I had a look at the Tas Dept of Justice website and seems we can just file papers for a small claim through the magistrates' court, no lawyers allowed if both sides don't agree, so we can keep his lawyer mate out of it. Is still a lot of hassle though, but a lot simpler than what my lawyer told me, which was that we would have to apply through the supreme court (anyone know a good lawyer in NE Tassie who actually knows what they are talking about?). Really not very impressed with our last lawyer, who should have said "ok, let's do this to resolve it". Instead, he just encouraged us to send letters from their firm in the hope of getting our neighbour to comply, and when that didn't work, they seemed out of ideas.

While I appreciate the responses here, they seem to be just opinions, there's no indication that there are any actual lawyers watching this legal forum and giving advice. Maybe lawyers simply won't give it away unless they get their $400 an hour, but it's a pretty sad state of affairs when someone can ask a detailed question in a popular legal forum and have no indication if any of the responses are actually legally accurate.

So, I guess we continue on and try and find someone with actual expertise in these sorts of issues, but most lawyers around here don't seem very knowledgeable at all unfortunately.

Luisa View Drop Down
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  Quote Luisa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/September/2017 at 12:22
Look, he is bullying you.
It's an old agreement and he is not complying with any of it. Govt depts. have wiped their hands of it. The land is yours? I mean the easement is over your land? The pump is old and likely to fail at any minute. Spend your time and energy on the rainwater tanks and wait for the pump to fail. Or wait til he's away (long weekend coming up?) and remove it and tell him it exploded and there was a small fire.
Honestly he's bullying you. You don't need court or even whatever the QCAT equivalent is. You can end this very quickly, he has no comeback and all you need worry about is potential temper tantrum from him. He has no hope legally. Don't worry, act like the landowner saddled with a dying ancient pump.

FYI I was single and being bullied by neighbours who have criminal records and of whom the police were scared. I know what it's like. Until you stand up to them, no-one else will. Police will back you up, but they won't lead from the front. You need to lead.

Luisa View Drop Down
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  Quote Luisa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/September/2017 at 12:29
First that doc isn't even dated. How old is it?

Second it clearly says the owner of the cottage is to install and maintain the pump. Not you. Why are you wasting time and energy on it? Remove it as it's a fire hazard and tell him he's welcome to install a new one (along with a new meter).

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  Quote Mr T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13/September/2017 at 10:16
Hi Luisa,

The pump feeds both houses and is our primary water supply, we actually own it according to our vendor. We have told him he can install his own pump and power it from his house, but he simply refuses to address the situation at all. The pump is 7 years old but these things are built like a tank and run for decades, it doesn't worry me so much if the pump dies, it's just the ongoing elec usage and hassle of having to deal with this idiot.

The easement is indeed over our land, so at some time in the past when the agreement was drawn up, the orig owner of the cottage would have paid a fee to access the easement and bore, I believe, although can find no record of an actual payment.

henri View Drop Down
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  Quote henri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15/September/2017 at 06:20
Where is your elec meter ? attached to a exterior wall of your house ?
If so have an on /off switch fitted for the pump that can be activated from inside your home when water is required.

You dont have to supply your power for your neighbours water supply

Why keep doing it ! ?

Edited by henri - 15/September/2017 at 06:35

citizen-joe View Drop Down
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  Quote citizen-joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16/September/2017 at 23:12
You dont have to supply your power for your neighbours water supply


I agree you could have a pressure switch fitted on your side of a valve to automatically switch the pump on only when one of your taps is opened.

Something like this









Edited by citizen-joe - 16/September/2017 at 23:15

Mr T View Drop Down
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  Quote Mr T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23/September/2017 at 16:43
Thanks for the input everyone, sorry for slow reply, have been on magazine deadline and just catching up on stuff now.

We do have a switch at the house to turn off the pump, but if I turn it off for any appreciable time, the leaks on the neighbour's side cause the whole system to drain down and fill with air, so we end up with airlocks everywhere. I need to install a backflow prevention valve on our line from the pump, but the way it was set up, there's no spare pipe length in the pump shed to fit it into, so would have to be outside the shed, or install a pipe loop.

The issue is that both houses, being on one pump, means I have to disconnect him if I want to stop him using our power. I am getting into the habit of turning off the valve to his house when I hear the pump running excessively, which occasionally results in him standing on the road screaming into his phone at his cop brother or his lawyer or someone, not sure who, but obviously they don't do anything about it. I suspect he has pissed off so many people that even his family has had enough.

If I get time this week I will wander down to the local police station and let them know of the situation and that I may need their presence when I disconnect this guy. Before I do that I will send one more itemised bill to his lawyer this week and then that's it, we've had enough of this fool.

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  Quote citizen-joe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23/September/2017 at 20:08
Originally posted by Mr T

I will wander down to the local police station and let them know of the situation and that I may need their presence when I disconnect this guy. Before I do that I will send one more itemised bill to his lawyer this week and then that's it, we've had enough of this fool.


Sounds like an appropriate response.

But you need a plan to prevent him reconnecting it when you aren't looking. Are you able to enclose the pump and plumbing in a locked enclosure?

Something like this but with a lock on the securing bolts.

Mr T View Drop Down
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  Quote Mr T Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29/September/2017 at 10:41
Interesting, I contacted our neighbour's lawyer about what was happening with payment and got this response: "I do not hold any instructions from Mr D***** and I am unable to respond any further."

So looks like his lawyer has gotten tired of him as well.

Given that there's no way to talk to the neighbour on a rational basis, I expect I will give him a final bill, and when he refuses to pay it I will give him a notice of intention to disconnect, then have the police present when I do it.

Edited by Mr T - 30/September/2017 at 09:08

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