Jane Austen said, ‘There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort’, but if your neighbours are being a nuisance, then sometimes your home can feel like the last place you want to be.
At one extreme, loud parties, rubbish dumping and anti-social behaviour is obviously unacceptable but your neighbours could be being a nuisance simply by having their television on too loud, moving furniture or doing a spot of DIY – all activities they’re entitled to do. But if the noise frequently disturbs you, then this is a nuisance and you’re entitled to do something about it.
If you live in a remote rural idyll surrounded by nothing but fields and trees, this article probably won’t apply to you (there’s not a lot you can do about sheep baa-ing!) but at the other end of the scale, perhaps you’re in a London housing development surrounded by people where the chances of hearing other people’s noise is increased.
Before you march round to your neighbour demanding peace and quiet though, read the following advice, which outlines some steps you can take.
Keep a record/diary
Whenever an instance of your neighbour being a nuisance occurs, make a note of what the incident was, when it happened and for how long it lasted. As well as helping you keep track of what’s been going on and when, it can also be used as evidence for any formal complaint you may wish to make about your neighbour.
Approach your neighbour
This can be a scary idea for some people but your neighbour may have no idea they’re being a nuisance and may not mind at all you letting them know (for example) their television is on too loud or their dog barking at night is keeping you awake.
If you do approach your neighbour personally, stay calm, be polite and friendly and try not to get offensive.
If for any reason you feel your neighbour may get abusive or violent, then do not approach them – your safety is more important.
Send a letter
If you’re uncomfortable about approaching your neighbour in person, then sending a letter can be a safe and effective way to let your neighbour know they’re being a nuisance.
Just as if you were approaching your neighbour in person, keep the letter polite. You may be tempted to tell them exactly how angry they’re making you (especially if you don’t sign the letter) but a copy of the letter can also be used as evidence if it’s required.
Contact your local authority
If asking your neighbour nicely – whether in person or by letter – isn’t having the desired effect and they’re still being a nuisance, you can contact your local authority who should have a department that deals with nuisance neighbours.
Complain to the Ombudsman
Your local authority should have dealt with your complaint within 12 weeks but, if you feel they haven’t dealt with your complaint adequately, you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Going to court
If you’ve taken all the steps above and your neighbours are still being a nuisance then, as a last resort, you can take them to court. You will need a lawyer for this, so ask friends and family if they have one they can recommend.