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How to Deal With Nuisance Neighbours

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More and more of us are living closer and closer to our neighbours on smaller plots. Those of us in apartment buildings are literally living on top of each other.

Modern building techniques go some way to helping mitigate sound from inside the home but a barking dog or loud TV can be very irritating, especially at the end of a long day.

First of all, make sure you are being reasonable. After a sanity check make sure you sleep on it. Banging on your neighbour’s door at 2 am isn’t conducive to maintaining good relations in the future. A carefully couched word the next morning is more likely to be reasonably received.

On the subject of ‘speaking’ with your neighbours, actually speaking with them face-to-face is more likely to keep relations civil. Everyone gets annoyed by rude notes and emails and texts are too easy to misconstrue. A pleasant tone and a smile will go a long way to making your case. Also, make sure you address future behaviour rather than past sins. Again, none of us likes to be told off! Maybe you should suggest your neighbour notifies you before their next party and then refer to how much noise you hear from their place.

If your neighbour is unreasonable or aggressive you will need to change tack. Maintain the moral high ground of course, but consider several parallel strategies including;

  1. Record instances of noise both in a diary and audibly. A video camera or phone is useful, but don’t talk at the same time as this will attenuate the microphone and make the background noise seem lower. You can buy apps that measure noise in decibels and this can be very useful.
  2. Consider recruiting neighbours if they too are disturbed. It helps to be in the majority and it also illustrates that you are being reasonable.
  3. Report the matter to the local council. Local Authorities have a duty to deal with noise pollution and they should also record the noise and if excessive they can issue a noise abatement notice.
  4. If you live in an apartment block raise the matter with the residents committee or managing agent / Freeholder. Causing excessive noise is probably a breach of the lease and Landlord’s not only can, but do have responsibilities to allow their tenants quiet enjoyment. This is a legal term, but nuisance from another tenant is likely to be covered by this clause. If you don’t share the same Landlord, complain to their Landlord or the managing agent. This is where recordings and a diary of events becomes useful.
  5. If all else fails, consider instructing a solicitor to write to the neighbour on your behalf. They might take notice if things get real!
  6. Always be prepared to enter mediation if offered and remember that you might have to live next door to your neighbour for years to come. Never allow yourself to be anything other than polite, if assertive, and keep a journal of events including dates, times, witnesses, etc.!
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