A recent Which? survey found that one in four people have had a problem with nuisance neighbours in the last year. The most common complaint among neighbours tends to be noise related to dogs barking, kids or adults screaming, and loud music. The survey also found that the majority (64%) of people experiencing problems like these had no idea what to do about it and did not know where to go for help and advice.
Most people, at some point, have had to deal with noisy neighbours and there are things you can do. In some case there are legal routes that can be taken, but these should only be used a last resort and are not usually necessary.
Talk to your neighbour
The first step, is just to have a friendly, calm chat with your neighbour. Often they will not even realise that you can hear them stomping up and down the stairs, or that you sleep during the day because you work nights
Contact their landlord
If your neighbour is a tenant and the noise continues, the next step is to contact their landlord and / or letting agent. It will usually be stated in their tenancy agreement that they must not cause a nuisance to their neighbours.
Contact your local council
If talking to your neighbour does not solve the problem, you can make a complaint to your local authority. Keeping a record of when the noise occurs and for how long will help to build a case and will provide evidence of the extent of the nuisance being caused. Under the Noise Act 1996, your local council must investigate any noise that is deemed to be a ‘nuisance’. If the council agrees that the noise from your neighbour constitutes a nuisance, they can issue an abatement notice. This will state that the noise must either stop completely or be reduced to a certain level, or possibly that it is only permitted at certain times of the day.
Failure to comply with an abatement notice can result in a fine of up to £5,000.
Your local authority may recommend mediation as a way of resolving your dispute with your neighbour. It can help to have an impartial third party involved to resolve thing calmly.
Involve a solicitor
Getting a solicitor to write to your neighbour, especially if they are a tenant in breach of their tenancy agreement, can often be enough for your neighbour to take your complaint seriously. Your solicitor will be able to advise you of the cost involved should you need to take things further down the legal route.
Whilst it’s highly understandable to react strongly when noisy neighbours are genuinely disturbing your peace, it also obvious that the more a situation escalates the more fraught (for all) the situation will become. Therefore it’s highly recommended to remain calm and civil from the outset (take the higher ground) to try and resolve the situation between you before involving others.