Advice on being a good neighbour
- Keeping TVs and music noise to a reasonable level, especially when windows or doors are left open, or late at night.
- Placing TVs and music systems away from shared walls and avoiding direct contact with the floor by placing equipment on a table or shelf.
- Advising neighbours if you’re having a party in case this could affect them.
- Asking your children not to play in other people’s gardens or play ball against people’s walls.
- Putting rubbish out on the morning of collection to avoid damage by dogs, etc.
- Warning your neighbours before you have a BBQ and checking which way the wind is blowing in case clothes are on washing lines
- Playing TVs and music systems too loudly or late at night.
- Doing vacuuming, or doing DIY late at night. (if you live in a flat you may also want ot think about not using loud appliances such as washing machines or tumble dryers if you live above or below people.
- Letting dogs bark outside or leaving them alone in the house all day.
- Letting dogs mess in gardens and on the pavements.
- Parking your car in someone else’s space or gateway.
- Banging car doors, revving up or playing car radios in the street late at night.
- Leaving rubbish in your garden or outside the house on days when it’s not bin day.
- Shouting at other people’s children or at your neighbours.
What to do when you have a problem with a neighbour
Most people try and be good neighbours, and don’t set out to cause disputes. However, if problems do arise, there are a range of the options set out below that people may find helpful.
Option 1 - Don’t rush in!
For example: Some people may have problems with their neighbour that have not occurred before. Examples of this may be noise problems from DIY or from a party, visitors parking their cars in the wrong place, children kicking a football into your garden.
If this is the first time you’ve experienced a problem with your neighbour, the right thing to do to start with may be nothing! It may be a one-off problem that will not happen regularly. Maybe your neighbour is putting up a shelf, or having a birthday party. A bit of tolerance and patience might be all that is needed to sort things out. If you are too quick to complain, it might make things worse between you and your neighbour.
Option 2 - Try and sort things out yourself
For example: You may be having a continuing problem such as persistent noise from TV, music or dogs which is disturbing you and needs to be sorted out.
Try talking to your neighbour and explaining what the problem is. They may not realise they are causing you any disturbance. It is important to try and sort things out yourself first. If you get someone else involved at this stage it may make things a lot worse.
It is often difficult to approach people to make a complaint. Below are some hints you might find useful.
1. Approaching people
- Don’t let things build up. Don’t leave it until things get out of hand, before you make your complaint.
- Don’t approach the person at the time you are angry or upset. Wait until you are calm.
- Do talk to the person face to face, rather than sending a letter, banging on the wall, or talking to everyone but them.
- Do work out beforehand what you want to say. Talking it over with someone who is not involved may help you to do this.
- Do approach the person when they are likely to have time to talk (for example, not just when they are off to work, or late in the evening)
- Do talk to the person when they are on their own, without other friends, neighbours or family present
- Do leave straightaway if people are aggressive or threatening when you approach them. If this happens you will need help from an organisation to resolve the situation.
2. Speaking to people
- Don’t lose your temper. This will only make things worse and harder to sort out.
- Don’t use aggressive body language (eg hands on hips, pointing, staring, etc.)
- Do speak quietly and slowly; this helps keep the other person calm
- Do explain the problem clearly. Try not to use any emotional or bad language or exaggerate the complaint.
- Do make your request politely but firmly
- Do be prepared to hear their side of the story. Listen to their reply/explanation without interrupting, and think about what they have said.
- Do keep calm and polite and talk things through
3. Ending the conversation
• Do thank them for their time and try and leave on a friendly note
THEN wait a few days to see if the problem sorts itself out.
Option 3 - Continuing problems
For example: Sometimes people are not reasonable and are not willing to listen or compromise. If the problem continues or gets worse you will need to seek help from other organisations to resolve the situation. If this happens, it may be helpful to start to keep a diary, recording any more incidents of the problem, with times, dates and details of what happens, in case you need to take things further.
If you are a tenant, and the problem concerns a tenant of the same landlord as you approach your landlord and ask them to help you. Explain what the problem is, how long it has been going on, and that you have tried to sort things out yourself but this hasn’t worked. Your landlord may offer to help directly, or may suggest you get in touch with another organisation, such as mediation service, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), environmental health or the police.If you would like help and support to do this, ask your landlord to help.
If you are not a tenant, or if the problem concerns a tenant of a different landlord or an owner occupier Seek advice from an organisation that can help you, eg environmental health, community safety team or the police.