Problems with noisy neighbours
If your neighbours are noisy or are harassing you and you need help or are not sure of your rights, contact a local advice centre. Alternatively, most councils have anti-social behaviour coordinators. You can find their details on the Direct Gov website.
Some noise is acceptable. Whether you can do anything about noisy neighbours depends on the individual situation. Before you can act the noise must be so loud that you can’t use your home in the normal way. This might be the case if you are woken up by the noise or you can’t hear your own TV above the noise.
The action you can take depends on:
- the type of noise
- the time of day or night the noise happens
- how often it happens
- how long it goes on for
- how it affects you
- the type of building (older homes often have less sound insulation).
Negotiating with your neighbour
The first step in dealing with noise is negotiation. Talk to the person causing the noise. You should explain how the noise is affecting you. Try to reach a compromise. Do this as early as possible before the problem gets too serious. It can be helpful to include a third person in a discussion with your neighbour. There may be mediation agencies in your area that could help you negotiate.
Talking to your neighbours’ landlord
If your neighbours are tenants and talking to them directly doesn’t work, it may be worth talking to their landlord. They may be breaking the terms of their tenancy agreement by making the noise. Their landlord may be able to deal with the problem or warn them that continuing to make the noise could leave them open to being evicted.
Taking action with other people
If other people are being affected by the problems your neighbours are causing, you may be able to take action together. There may be a tenants’ association or other group in your area that can help you to do this.
If the noise problem continues keep notes of:
- how long it lasts
- the time it occurred
- how loud it is
- whether anyone else heard it
- the occasions you spoke to your neighbours about it
- the effect it had on you.
Contacting the council
The environmental health department of the council has the power to deal with noise problems. An environmental health officer may visit you to monitor the noise.
If the problem is serious enough the council may take action to stop your neighbours making noise. For example the council may send a formal notice asking the noise to stop by a certain date. In extreme cases the council might be able to take your neighbours to court.
Harassment from neighbours can take many forms. It could include shouting, verbal abuse, threats or violence. It could be because of:
- your race, gender or sexuality
- a dispute such as over noise, parking or access
- a personal disagreement.
Being harassed by your neighbours can have a very serious effect on your day-to-day life. If harassment forces you to move out, you may become homeless. If this happens, you may be entitled to help from the council.
You should keep records of all events in case they are needed later. This might include:
- a diary of events
- copies of letters
- details of witnesses to events.
Contacting the police
You should contact the police if you are:
- threatened with violence
- experiencing racial harassment or
- if your property is damaged.
The police have powers to take action against people who are guilty of harassment. Even if the police can’t help it’s worth reporting incidents to them so that there is evidence in case it is needed later.
If all attempts to resolve the situation have failed you may want to find somewhere else to live. In cases of serious neighbour harassment you may be able to say that you can no longer live at your home because it is unreasonable to do so. In this case, the council may have to help you under homelessness law.
If you are having a dispute with a neighbour it is a good idea to seek mediation to resolve problems before they get worse. A mediator won’t tell you what to do, and won’t make judgements about who is in the right. Instead, they will help you to talk to each other, in the hope that you can reach an agreement about things.
Many councils and housing associations have access to mediation services for their tenants. Alternatively, some solicitors also offer mediation services, or you could search on the online Directory of UK mediators.
Mediation is not appropriate if your neighbour has behaved in a violent or threatening manner towards you. If this is the case you should contact the police and get legal advice as soon as possible.