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Free legal advice if neighbours cause nuisance

06 May 2019

What can you do if your neighbours are causing a nuisance? It can be difficult to know what to do if your neighbours are annoying you, and complaining to an official body isn’t always the answer. Lawyers at the UG have launched a website where citizens can get free legal advice if their neighbours are causing a nuisance: overlastadvies.nl .

Nuisance from neighbours is an ongoing problem in the Netherlands. Figures from the Safety Monitor conducted by Statistics Netherlands (CBS Veiligheidsmonitor) and the national Living Survey (Woononderzoek) show that 29% of tenants and home-owners experience some form of nuisance from their neighbours. The level of nuisance seems to be on the increase, with the type of nuisance varying from noise and neglect to nuisance caused by animals, intimidation and overhanging branches.
Michel Vols (photo Elmer Spaargaren)
Michel Vols (photo Elmer Spaargaren)

Helping to build a good society

Professor of Public Order Law Michel Vols, instigator of overlastadvies.nl, specializes in conflicts between neighbours. He is often asked for advice. Vols: ‘Unfortunately, I’m not able to answer all of those individual questions. Answering individual questions about nuisance caused by neighbours is difficult to combine with teaching and conducting academic research. But my colleagues at the UG and I are trying to translate our knowledge into instruments that will help society. Overlastadvies.nl is a good, concrete example’.

Over 600 different recommendations

Vols developed the website with Laurent Jensma, lecturer and researcher in IT law at the UG. Jensma: ‘Overlastadvies.nl generates tailor-made legal advice based on the situations and characteristics described by the user. It’s a very advanced, high-quality tool: there are over 600 variations’.

From mediation to the mayor

Every recommendation made by overlastadvies.nl consists of several components. It is always geared to the individual situation, on the basis of answers given by the user. Some of the advice appears in all recommendations: people are always advised to try and tackle the problem themselves through mediation, for example. And the possibility of calling upon the landlord, a tenants’ association, the municipality, the police and the Public Prosecution Service for help is also discussed.

Privacy

The researchers do not ask for personal details, so people can be confident that they are asking for advice anonymously. Personal details are not needed to gauge the situation. The information that is entered is stored securely and used for further academic research.

More information

  • Contact: prof. Michel Vols
  • On Sunday 5 May, the TV programme De Monitor featured an item (in Dutch) on Michel Vols’ work and the overlastadvies.nl website.
Last modified:06 May 2019 11.00 a.m.
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