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(First time posting on this SE, I hope it's not off-topic.)

I have a friend who lives in the Netherlands, let's call her Allison. Both her and her neighbor (let's call him Bob) live in an apartment complex owned by a therapy organization they are both patients at, and their landlord is also the owner of said organization. Bob has lived there longer than Allison.

Every once in a while (at least once a week, though sometimes a lot more often), Bob tends to be very noisy in his apartment, by listening to loud music or playing with a pinball machine (a physical, real life one, not a video game). This often also happens very late at night, which is obviously not allowed per contract, and the walls are incredibly thin. Allison has complained about this numerous times, as it prevents her from sleeping at night and her mental health is suffering because of it, which the therapy home was supposed to be helping with. The inhabitants of the other apartments don't hear any noise, as Allison's apartment is the only one that share's a wall with Bob's.

The problem: Since Bob is a therapy patient himself, the landlord and the therapists appear to be protective of him. Supposedly, he has his own baggage that prevents him from noticing, caring or remembering that he's being inconsiderate. While they don't explicitly condone him doing this at night, they barely take any direct action. Instead, they advised Allison to use earplugs, since the person who lived in her apartment before her never complained about this and they figured she may just be too sensitive. When the earplugs didn't help, they told her to message Bob whenever he's being too loud, because he apparently needs constant reminding that he's not supposed to do this after a certain time of day. Allison tried this, and it helped, but the silence usually only persists for a few minutes before being broken again.

On Allison's request, the landlord eventually agreed to order noise cancelling panels to be installed on the wall between their apartments. However, he only agreed to pay for the very cheapest ones available, which had to be shipped from China and are now being withheld due to the Corona virus. Furthermore, after it was clarified that these panels would need to be installed on Bob's side of the wall in order to have any effect, Bob suddenly expressed that he's not willing to put in the effort to do so. In other words, he refuses to actively do something to fix the problem he's causing, despite the panels being gifted to him (Allison has expressed willingness to invest into panels for her side of the wall out of her own pocket, just for added sound isolation, but as stated earlier, those won't do much on their own).

Recently, Allison's therapist started encouraging her to look for other apartments, all of which turned out to be substantially more expensive than her current one (given similar size and quality). Despite knowing that Allison's financial situation isn't the best, her therapist kept suggesting that it might be worth it to get some peaceful nights. Allison feels like this is rather unfair, like she's being punished for her neighbor breaking the contract and keeping her up at night, and that the landlord / therapy organization should put more effort into solving this for her, as the contract states that excessive noise at night is grounds for eviction. However, whenever she brings these arguments up, they keep getting dodged.

Allison tried contacting the police about this, but they dismissed her case as something that's out of their reach. They advised her to try something called a "neighborhood mediation", though Allison has strong doubts about the usefulness of such a thing, as the landlord and therapists have already tried mediating between the two of them.

Question: Is there any other way to resolve this issue? Can a therapy organization get away with catering to one patient's needs, despite that being extremely counterproductive to the needs of another patient, especially if the former is the one breaking the rules? Is it legal for the landlord to blatantly ignore a contract that was signed by all the involved parties and not take any action against one of these parties breaking it and strongly inconveniencing another one? And if not, how does one get him to take action?

  • Ah, it is a "law" section where I don't have much knowledge. I would also advise to aks similar question on the soft skills section where people might suggest strategies to talk or behave to the person to resolve it. – Eugen Martynov Feb 29 at 12:34
  • @EugenMartynov Thank you for the advice. By soft skills, do you mean interpersonal.se? I was considering asking the same question there, but thought legal advice might be more useful, as my friend already tried getting her point across with the people involved, fruitlessly. – Andii Feb 29 at 12:37
  • We had an issue in the same domain and we have legal insurance. So they said it is a super hard topic that is not much regulated. And it might take ages in the court to get what you asked. So their advice was to try to resolve it on the conversation level. That we tried to execute and it worked eventually. – Eugen Martynov Feb 29 at 13:09
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Can a therapy organization get away with catering to one patient's needs, despite that being extremely counterproductive to the needs of another patient, especially if the former is the one breaking the rules? Is it legal for the landlord to blatantly ignore a contract that was signed by all the involved parties and not take any action against one of these parties breaking it and strongly inconveniencing another one?

First, it is important for Allison to distinguish between the existing legal relations and each one's separate ramifications.

The therapist looks manipulative and dishonest when encouraging Allison to rent a more expensive place, since at this point it seems that the therapist knew or should have known that the situation involves the landlord (who coincidentally is the therapist's employer). At the very least, the therapist should have informed Allison that the therapist has a potential conflict of interest, and thus let Allison decide whether or not to rely on that organization's services. Here, the therapist failed to make due disclosure.

Instead, the therapist's acts have all the appearance of accommodating its other customer (Bob), and ultimately trying not to disrupt its employer's profits both as landlord and as therapy business owner. That conflict of interest sounds in therapist's malpractice and may even amount to [therapist's & company's] fraud.

Regardless of whether Allison chooses to denounce the therapist and/or the business, she should ask herself whether a therapy organization with such practices is apt for continued treatment of --and the ensuing profits from-- Allison's therapy needs. One aspect Allison needs to consider is that her continued business there would weaken her arguments if she eventually brings court proceedings against the therapist or his employer.

Allison's tenancy is a separate issue. Allison knows better than I (and the public in general) the terms of her lease and the physical details of her residential unit, so only she can compare them with section 7.4.2 of the Burgerlijke Wetboek to assess whether the lack of quiet enjoyment is attributable to a defect of the leased property (article 7:204.2). Allison should assess this issue from the standpoint of landlord's possible allegation that ""the disturbance is caused by a third person" (whereby the landlord would seek to avoid liability under 7:204.3). Depending on Allison's determination of the aforementioned issue, she would have a claim against the landlord for breach of contract, and/or against Bob for tortious conduct (6:162).

There are at least three reasons why Allison should follow the police's suggestion of neighborhood mediation. The first reason is that there has been essentially no mediation in Allison's dispute. Mediation requires a nonparty whose neutrality is not compromised when conducting the mediation. That has been missing here so far. Allison has only dealt with third parties (i.e., the landlord and therapists) who are first and foremost reluctant to inconvenience their noisy client Bob for fear of affecting their own business interests. Allison's belief that these people were conducting a form of mediation is mistaken.

The second reason is that, from mediation, Allison may pursue and obtain a written & signed agreement whereby Bob promises to desist from his pattern of disturbances (ideally Allison would secure an akin sort of commitment also from the landlord). In the event that Allison subsequently needs to sue either or both of the parties for the continued disturbances, filing in court these binding documents (which she would have obtained through mediation) will ease Allison's burden of proof.

The third reason is that genuine mediation might obviate Allison's need to seek remedies in court. That is because it would teach both landlord and Bob that Allison is able and willing to take legal action if the situation persists or escalates, which might have a dissuading effect on them. Furthermore, mediation proceedings will give Allison some experience as to presenting her legal arguments in a more formal setting.

Courts in Netherlands may grant injunctive relief in situations like Allison's where the ongoing harm is not susceptible of being quantified in monetary terms. Allison may pursue that relief, which if granted would compel the police to enforce it each time Bob violates it.

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    Thank you very much for this answer! I'm sorry it took me a while to comment on this, but it just so happens that the situation changed slightly. There now seems to be a relatively high chance that Bob is going to move out on his own in the next few weeks/months, for personal reasons, so Allison is hesitant of taking legal action right now. I'm hoping this isn't just a stalling tactic, but she's trusting this information for now. I'll try to provide updates if things don't go as smoothly as hoped, and this answer should still be useful in that case. – Andii Mar 3 at 12:30
  • @Andii Good to know. Hopefully Allison's issue gets solved that way. Regardless, the answer showcases the sort of aspects to bear in mind for assessing disputes from a legal standpoint. – Iñaki Viggers Mar 3 at 12:52

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