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How to handle noisy neighbours
A recent survey from ‘Which?’ highlighted that one in four people have had troubles with neighbours. And, noise is deemed the most common cause of disputes. After all, unless you live in complete isolation, you’ve probably moaned about the noise coming from next door more than once. Unfortunately, it’s part of everyday life but there are some rules and regulations regarding appropriate noise. Avoid any neighbourly disputes and take a look at our handy guide on how to handle noise from next door.
It might sound obvious but the first step in dealing with neighbour issues is to talk to them. You’ll often find that most people aren’t aware of how loud they are being and one in three people have found that talking to their neighbours solved any problems immediately, according to HomeOwners Alliance. It is important, however, to consider timing. Heading round in the midst of a drunken party may not be the best idea. Why not catch them over the fence instead of awkwardly knocking on their door? Remember to stay calm, reasonable and polite. It’s also a good idea to tell your neighbours how you’d like the issue resolved. For example, you may ask them to stop playing music outside after 11 pm or that they give you a pre-warning before any parties.
If this fails, then consider getting the local council involved. However, this isn’t a light decision as often it does create more tension and could end up in court. Plus, remember that any official complaints will go on record and could potentially make it harder for you to sell your house in the future.
Once you’ve complained to the local authorities, an anonymous letter will be sent to your neighbours stating the issue. You will also be asked to record a noise diary which details the noise, time, date and effect it had on you. This diary will be used in the investigation and noise monitoring equipment may also be installed. If the noise is deemed a “statutory nuisance”, the council can send an abatement notice, threatening your neighbours with a fine.
Mediation can be a successful method if you have completely fallen out with your neighbours or if previous attempts at working together have failed. A professional mediator will organise a meeting at a neutral location between all parties involved. The aim of this process is to allow everyone to understand the other’s point of view. Compromises will be suggested and remedies can be discussed. While it has huge success rates, it is voluntary so your neighbour may not turn up.
When it comes to leasehold properties, there are other factors you need to check. If your neighbour is a leaseholder, they could well be breaching their lease agreement regarding noise. If you live in a flat and are annoyed by creaky floorboards, there may well be a clause that states that the floor covering should be suitable. Some leases even state that leaseholders must not make noise outside of a certain time – 11 pm to 7 am, for example. Many leases also have bans on pets so if it’s a noisy animal that’s keeping you up, check your agreement.
If you’re having problems with a leaseholder, begin by complaining to the freeholder (who owns the property). They will then issue a warning or begin legal proceedings against the leaseholder as a result of them breaching their lease. This is usually very effective as the leaseholder could potentially lose their property.
If you know that your neighbour is a tenant, you could always contact their landlord and explain the problem. Alternatively, if you’re a tenant, you could contact your landlord to express the issue. Housing associations and letting agents will have a formal complaints process that will assist with any major issues.
One of the last attempts at dealing with noisy neighbours is to take them to court. However, you must be able to prove that you have attempted to deal with the issue in other ways beforehand. If you do decide to go down this route, you must seek legal advice from a lawyer.
Before approaching any neighbour, it is crucial that you feel safe. It’s also important to remain friendly because, at the end of the day, friendly neighbours are a godsend!