Working Things Out with Noisy Neighbours

With all those Christmas and New Year celebrations going on, the neighbourhood can be a bit noisier than usual over the festive season. While the odd party isn’t normally much of a problem, living near persistently noisy neighbours can have a huge impact on your quality of life. From loud music and all-night garden parties to barking dogs and loud arguments, there are many types of noise that can become problematic between neighbours.

So, if you find yourself living next door to noisy neighbours, what practical steps can you take to get things quietened down?

What is a nuisance?

Obviously, there’s going to be a certain level of normal, everyday noise that we all have to put up with when we live alongside others. It’s when that noise becomes a nuisance that things can get contentious.

In English law, noise conflicts between residential neighbours are regarded as a private nuisance, which concerns the rights of an occupier to the use and enjoyment of their land without interference. Where noise is concerned, considering the both parties’ right to use and enjoy their land without interference can be a tricky balancing act.

While there is an element of subjectivity to noise complaints (what one person might consider highly annoying, another may hardly notice) any noise that could be considered ‘prejudicial to health or a nuisance’ falls within the category of ‘statutory nuisance’ under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Resolving your noise dispute

The best place to start when attempting to resolve a noise dispute is by approaching your neighbours informally to talk things through. In some cases, it may be that they have no idea they are making excessive noise or that you find it disturbing. If you approach the matter in a calm friendly way, and they are reasonable neighbours, you may be able to reach a compromise that works for all parties (for example, they agree to only play music at certain times or at a lower volume).

That’s in an ideal world, of course! Sometimes, a friendly neighbourly chat just won’t cut it, in which case you‘ll need to employ different tactics. In cases where you simply can’t see eye to eye, the following courses of action are open to you.

If you’re not sure you’ll be able to approach things with a calm head, or you think your neighbours might not be very receptive to a personal visit, you could write your concerns down in a polite letter. It’s not always successful, but it’s a good way to avoid one-to-one interactions if you think they might have the potential to escalate.

If you can’t agree between yourselves, but think there might be a chance of reaching a resolution with the help of a neutral third party, using a mediation service could be another way to understand both sides of the argument and reach an agreement.

When dealing with uncooperative neighbours who rent rather than own their property, you might consider getting in touch with the landlord to ask if they are able help you resolve the dispute. Depending on the circumstances, the noise they are making may put them in breach of the terms of their lease. If that’s the case, they might listen to their landlord, even if they won’t listen to you.

Ask your local council’s Environmental Health Department to look into the problem. If your complaint is found to be a statutory nuisance, they will issue a noise abatement order. This will detail the action your neighbour needs to take in terms of decreasing or stopping the noise in question. It might also restrict the noise concerned to certain times of day, depending on the circumstances. If your neighbour fails to comply with the terms of the order, they could face hefty fines or court proceedings.

Get legal advice from a solicitor. Having the support of a professional can help you clarify your legal position and choose the best course of action. As a firm with a highly experienced dispute resolution team, we know the value of getting the right advice and intervention before neighbourly discord spirals into a costly and stressful legal wrangle.

Living in peace

While living in close proximity to your neighbours involves a fair amount of give and take, no one should have to put up with the annoyance, stress and inconvenience of excess noise. If you’re dealing with a neighbour dispute over noise or any other issue, our dispute resolution lawyers are here to help. With mediation and resolution at the heart of our approach, we’ll do our best to reach an amicable agreement between all parties, so you can get back to living in peace.

For more information, get in touch with your nearest Rowberry Morris office.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.