A judge has ordered an accountant to pay his neighbors more than £60,000 in damages after he “bullied” them for a parking space. The bitter dispute started in 2015 and centered around three parking spaces outside neighbors’ houses in Fallowfield Close, Harefield.
Two of them belong to Mr. Soares and his wife – the third belongs to the Kotharis.
Initially, the couples had acted like good neighbors and agreed to share the parking spaces between them in a mutually beneficial “swap” arrangement.
This meant Mr and Mrs Soares parked their vehicles in the two adjoining spaces on the left, while the Kotharis used the space on the right so they could keep their cars close to their respective homes and garages.
However, things quickly turned sour after the two couples fell out over allegations of inconsiderate parking, prompting the Soares family to withdraw from the swap deal.
The 53-year-old accountant took his feud with his neighbors to court in 2021, where a judge ruled in his favor, ruling that he and his wife had the right to withdraw the earlier deal and that the parking lot on the right was legal theirs.
Despite the ruling, the Kothari family continued to use their neighbors’ parking lot, leading to another legal challenge by the Soares.
Last week Mr and Mr Soares went back to court to claim damages from the Kotharis for “entering their land”.
But in a move that wrong-footed prosecutors, the Kotharis filed a counterclaim seeking their own damages, claiming that their neighbors’ poor parking had lowered the value of their property.
The Kotharis claimed that the value of their £750,000 home had been reduced due to “oppressive parking” by Mr and Mrs Soares who had at times threatened to block access to their garage.
A real estate agent told the Kothris that their neighbors’ behavior could depress as much as 10 percent of their home’s value.
Judge Evans-Gordan granted Kotharis’ claim for damages and ordered Mr Soares to pay them £60,090 for entry into their space, damage to their car park and for the depreciation of their home as a result of the dispute.
In her ruling, she labeled Mr. Soares’s parking as “high-handed, abusive and oppressive”.
The judge said: “This is illustrated by the evidence of Ms Kothari, who told me that when she couldn’t access her car, she asked Mr Soares to move his car because she couldn’t get to work, but he said ‘ that’s not my problem’ – and refused to move his car.
“There is no better example of arbitrary and abusive behavior.”
She added: “Given the plaintiff’s behavior – which amounts to bullying – a potential buyer could fear repeated incidents.
“Hence the depreciation.”
The judge also issued a series of injunctions against Mr. and Mrs. Soares, preventing them from wandering into their neighbors’ parking lot or in front of their garage.
It wasn’t all bad news for Mr Soares and his wife, as the judge ruled in their favor on their claim, awarding them £2,530 breach damages from the Kotharis for their continued use of the car park on the right after the “swap- agreement”. was terminated.
At the same time, the judge accepted that the Kotharis had “impeded” their neighbors’ turning circles in the past by parking.
The couples have been ordered to pay each other’s legal bills, the exact costs of which will be determined by another judge at a later date.