Written by: Toni Foot
Your home should be your sanctuary; somewhere you feel relaxed and at peace. So what do you do when a neighbour is determined to shatter that peace and quiet you long for with loud music or inappropriate parking?
Think it over
If you are bothered by something a neighbour does, take time to consider if it really warrants action. For example, if they have a loud party that keeps you awake but they only do it once a year, is that something you can tolerate? It may be inconsiderate of them to disturb you but a little tolerance once in a while could make your relationship with your neighbours much more positive. After all, there may be things you do that bother them too.
If you feel like the issue happens regularly, try making a note of when it happens for a little while. You may find your perception of how often they upset you is not realistic and that it just feels like they do it more frequently because it bothers you. If not, you will have the start of a record that you may need later on. The more detailed your notes are, the more useful they will be if you need to use them as proof of incidents.
Try a friendly chat
It’s always best to resolve issues directly and in as friendly a manner as possible. Unless you choose to move home you may have many more years in the company of your neighbours and arguing over little things may create bad feeling, leading to further issues. Try having a friendly chat about your concerns or write a brief letter to them. Sometimes they may simply not realize that their actions are bothering you and a quiet word could solve the situation immediately.
If your first attempt fails
It is a good idea to write down the date, time and content of any conversation you have with your neighbours. This will serve as a record of your efforts to resolve the situation, should you need to take things further.
Whilst most neighbours are decent people who will respond to reasonable requests, there are some who may not care if they upset you or not. Tolerance and friendly chats are obviously preferable but don’t feel you have to suffer in silence if your neighbours turn into the neighbours from hell.
Start keeping records of everything relating to your situation. Start a file or have a box where you can collect any letters you send or receive, records of phone calls, conversations or photographs where your property is affected by their actions. If you contact someone about the situation, record their name, the date and what was said. Keep a noise diary, commenting on when (time and date) noise bothers you and what they are doing (shouting, playing loud music or letting a dog bark for instance).
Contact your local council or housing association to ask for some support. You may be able to access Neighbour Conciliation and Mediation services to help you reach an agreement with your troublesome neighbours. You should ask your council or housing authority about their policies and procedures regarding problem neighbours and ask them to provide you with written copies of these. These policies will help you to understand what help is available to you and will give you the confidence to push for further action if you feel they are not doing as much as you feel they could.
If you need to take things further
If your neighbours from hell do not respond to mediation or contact from your council or housing association then you may need to instigate legal action. Do bear in mind that legal action can be very time consuming and costly, not to mention stressful for all involved so do try to resolve the situation if at all possible.
BEFORE contacting a solicitor or taking legal advice, you should consult all your insurance relating to your home, buildings or contents insurance as these often include legal advice and services. However, if you contact a solicitor or take legal advice before contacting your insurers you may void any cover you have in place so make sure you speak to them first.
If your neighbour rents their home then it may be worth contacting their landlord or letting agent as they may be in breach of their tenancy conditions. Landlords have a responsibility to protect you and your home from troublesome tenants so do try contacting them directly.
If you are in immediate danger
Always contact the police on 999 if you feel you are in immediate danger.
You may need to contact your local police to report incidents that are not emergencies, but could put someone at risk or that concern you. Even if you think the problem is petty, it is worth letting the police know so that they can build up an accurate record of issues over time. You may find these records very useful if you have to take legal action and the police may be able to support you in your difficulties. Your local police may also be able to put you in touch with victim support services if your situation continues.
Contact your MP
MPs often hold ‘open’ sessions where you can go and discuss issues of importance to you. Your local MP or councillor will have experience of neighbour issues and may have some useful suggestions or be able to offer support so contact them to see what they can do for you. Remember to keep written records of any conversations or letters you have regarding your situation.Your home should be your sanctuary; somewhere you feel relaxed and at peace. So what do you do when a neighbour is determined to shatter that peace and quiet you long for with loud music or inappropriate parking.