Ethiopian family face eviction in Oslo, Norway

By IndepthAfrica
In East Africa
Nov 22nd, 2012
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A family of four from Ethiopia may end up homeless following one neighbour’s written complaints about noise.

Former refugee Mr Daniel Feyisa, wife Frehiwot, their seven-year-old daughter Idlawit, and 18-month-old son currently live at Ammerud located in the capital’s north-eastern district of Groruddalen.

They now face eviction and forced sale of their flat within three months following the neighbour’s repeated allegations their noise affects living conditions and sleep.
Tried to find a solution

According to an earlier letter from the Ammerudkollen housing cooperative’s board (‘borettslag’), the complaints refer to “running, knocking, slamming, and blaring radio/TV.”

“Neighbours are awoken by knocking and loud bangs at night,” it continued.

The board alleges the family has committed significant housing statute and other regulatory breaches specific to living agreements there.

Housing cooperative and condominium association management company OBOS sent a letter about the forced sale on behalf of the board.

While one witness of unspecified location supports the person’s written claims, others living in the same apartment block attest the family has never disturbed them in the slightest, however.

“We’ve proposed they [the board] come and try to move around the sofa and other things they claim we make noise with and check the sound level,” Daniel Feyisa told Dagsavisen, having already had two meetings with them and the neighbour in question about the matter.

The Feyisas also stated they try to take several measures to avoid being accused of making noise.

These include spending their afternoons at another person’s, walking in socks, and having the TV on soundless at home.

“We daren’t prepare food or let the children play inside because we’re frightened the neighbour will complain,” said Mr Feyisa.
Tried to consider both sides

The family has now sought legal aid in what is a word-against-word situation. Their lawyer has contested the decision by the board, which has upheld the neighbour’s complaints.

Legal counsel Stina Saastad told the paper the Feyisas’ situation and threatened or actual enforcement orders in general are reasonably common, “but I haven’t to date experienced that OBOS proceeds in a case where we have protested.”

Meanwhile, deputy Ammerudkollen board chairperson Tom Evensen declared he found the decision regretful, confirming the events are as reported.

He also explained the neighbour’s complaints refer to disturbance and thumping in the floor.

“The sound in these apartments doesn’t travel sideways in particular,” he said, though adding that people have to expect there will be noise from children and the like in a housing cooperative.

“Nevertheless, this is a difficult situation. I know there’s been petition in that part of the complex to support them [the family], and understand full well they have no problems with the family since the other neighbours don’t hear any noise,” concluded Mr Evensen.

“We’re living in a prison,” declared Daniel Feyisa’s wife Frehiwot Demse, “other families are together at home, the children can play. We can’t, we daren’t.”

Tom Evensen did not have anything further to add for the moment when The Foreigner contacted him.

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