How to handle noisy neighbours

Caroline Cassidy

While we'd all like to think our neighbours are good friends, it's not always the case. From barking dogs to late-night music, DIY to constant rowing, a noisy neighbour can make your life hell.

how to deal with noisy neighbours
how to deal with noisy neighbours

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Nuisance noise can really affect your day-to-day life, causing stress, sleeplessness and irritability. Unfortunately there is no set level at which loud noise becomes a 'statutory nuisance' and this can make it difficult to manage the situation.

However, if you are having issues with noise from next door, there are ways to get your peace and quiet back.

Talk to your neighbour
Before making a formal complaint, it's always a good idea to talk to the neighbour causing the problem. In some cases, they may not even be aware that they are causing you distress. Try not to confront the person responsible while the disturbance is occurring. A polite, non-aggressive approach is essential so wait until you are calm and pick a quiet moment to state your case.

Some may feel uncomfortable confronting the situation face-to-face but in this instance, a letter clearly stating the problem, with examples if possible, will get your point across. Keep a copy of the letter too as it will serve as proof that you have not only brought the matter to your neighbour's attention but show that you have tried to resolve the dispute.

If you are threatened or intimidated by the neighbour in question, however, just walk away. Serious threats of violence or anti-social behaviour are a matter for the police, so report any instances as soon as you can.

What next?
If your neighbour ignores your request and continues to create a nuisance, mediation may help. An independent mediator can act as referee in the dispute, helping both sides to understand the other's point of view and negotiate a resolution. Mediation is usually free so get in touch with your local council or housing association to see if they can provide such a service. Alternatively call Mediation UK who should be able to provide details of services in your area.

Formal complaints
Should mediation fail to resolve the situation, a formal complaint may be your only option. You will need to contact your local authority Environmental Health Department to make your complaint. The council has a duty to perform an investigation if they receive such a complaint but keeping a log of times and dates when you were disturbed by excessive noise is a good idea.

You may be visited at home by an Environmental Health Officer who will inform you of your rights and what to expect next, and the neighbour causing the problem will be informed that a complaint has been made, explain that they must take action to reduce the noise and let them know the legal consequences and penalties that may occur should they ignore the request. Your identity should be kept confidential.

Further action
If the problem persists despite the action taken by the local authority, you can take further action through the Magistrates court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Written records, listing details of the problem are essential if you go down this route as the court will need to be convinced beyond doubt that the noise is considered a statutory nuisance. Your neighbour must be given a minimum of three days written notice if you decide to take action.

However, do be aware that this can be costly and professional legal advice should be sought.

Have you had trouble with noisy neighbours? How did you resolve the situation? Leave your comments below...