Noisy neighbours are more than just a nuisance. If you are subjected to constant dog barking, loud music, screaming children (or even adults), and doors banging at all hours of the day and night, it can feel like your neighbours are ruining your life!
The brutal truth is that, if you live in an apartment or terraced / semi-detached house, much of the enjoyment of your property rests on the civility of your neighbours.
But don’t despair. If your noisy neighbours are driving you around the bend, rest assured that you are not alone. Most people, at some time in their lives, have had to deal with neighbours who make too much noise. You do have the right to seek legal redress, but this should only be done as a last resort.
Start a conversation
The best way to deal with a noisy neighbour is to pop round and explain to them in a calm manner that their music, dog, children, stomping up and down stairs etc, is disturbing you. Pick your moment. Knocking on the door at 2am while a party is in full swing and the occupants have ‘had a few’ may not elicit the best reaction. You are more likely to have success if you express your concerns the next day, when everyone’s heads are clear.
In the vast majority of cases, a quick chat sorts the problem out. Most people are mortified at the thought of causing a disturbance to those around them, and your neighbour may have had no clue that their noise was affecting you.
Be reasonable and take a balanced view. Your neighbours have a right to enjoy their property too. Try to compromise, for example, ask them to warn you the next time they are having a party so you can make alternative plans, and request that any loud music wraps up at midnight.
Talk to the landlord
If your neighbour is a tenant and ignores your requests to quieten down, you may need to contact their landlord. Tenants will normally have a clause in their Tenancy Agreement prohibiting them from actions and/or behaviour that cause a nuisance to their neighbours. Your Solicitor can help you to find out the name and address of the landlord so that you can contact them.
Contact your local council
If talking to your neighbour elicits no positive results, you can make a complaint to your local authority.
Under the Noise Act 1996 and other associated legislation, your local council must investigate any noise that is deemed to be a ‘nuisance’. If your neighbour’s noise is deemed a nuisance, then the Council can issue an Abatement Notice. The notice will stipulate that either the noise must stop completely, be reduced to a certain level, or is only permitted during certain times of the day. If you neighbour fails to comply with the notice, they can be fined up to £5,000 if you are dealing with a person or up to £20,000 if it’s a business creating the noise. Any device such as a sound system can also be seized by an Environmental Health Officer or the police for up to 28 days until the court decides what should be done with it.
If the nuisance becomes more than just incidental noise, and you feel threatened, harassed, or in fear of violence, then it is time to call the police.
Your local authority may recommend that you and your noisy neighbour attend mediation as a way of resolving your dispute. Mediation is a process whereby an impartial third party, known as a mediator, helps you and your neighbour come to an agreement over how to resolve the noise issue. Because the process is designed to be non-confrontational and assist parties to resolve disputes between themselves, mediation is also a good way of preserving or re-establishing good relations.
Get your solicitor to write a letter
A letter from a solicitor can often be enough to make a noisy neighbour take your complaint seriously. This strategy works well if your neighbour is a tenant, and the letter points out that if they do not cease in their noisy activities, they could face eviction. If all else fails, you can take legal action against a neighbour through the Courts. Your solicitor can advise you in relation to the process and the likely costs.
As they say, “our house is our castle”, no matter how large or modest, and noisy neighbours can make life miserable. If a fair and reasonable discussion with your neighbour or their landlord does not elicit the desired outcome, rest assured, you do have a number of non-legal and legal options available to you so that you can enjoy peace and tranquillity in your own home.
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