Everyone has the right to a reasonable amount of peace and quiet in their own home. When a neighbour disrupts this right it can be very upsetting and, before long, awkward confrontations may worsen the situation – leaving you feeling stressed out, angry or upset.
“Whether it’s loud music, foul language or a barking dog that’s causing the tension, the longer the problem persists the more likely you are to get agitated and the resentment festers,” says Chris Whitelaw, a barrister specialising in disputes management.
“If you nip it in the bud, you can prevent the problem from getting worse and move towards a friendlier solution -just don’t jump to any conclusions about your neighbour” he says. “The trick is to stay calm and rational, and think the problem through, rather than simply flying off the handle when you see them.”
Know your rights
Before you do anything, ask yourself if the disturbance is a genuine problem. It may be irritating, but is your neighbour’s behaviour actually illegal? “In most cases, the deciding factor of whether the behaviour is unacceptable or just a nuisance will be if it’s legal or not,” Chris explains. For instance, poor and insulation often means you can hear your neighbour’s household noises such as footsteps, talking and children playing.
While it can be annoying, Chris says it’s not illegal for people to go about their daily activities, creating normal amounts of noise. “If the disturbance isn’t breaking the law but is still affecting your quality of life, you’ll have to decide whether or not you can put up with it If you can’t, the next step is to let your neighbour know how you feel!