Good Neighbours

Wherever you live, residents will inevitably have different values or opinions, different timetables and different expectations of others.

Sometimes this can result in disputes, but it is important to remember that being a good neighbour involves compromise.

If this is the first time you've experienced a problem with a neighbour, it might be best to ignore it - as it could be a one off event, for example a birthday party, or they needed to put some shelves up. Although these events might disturb you, a bit of tolerance might be all that is needed to sort the problem out.

Wherever possible, and when it is safe to do so - step one in any dispute is to try talking. Often, neighbours might not realise that their behaviour is causing a problem. It is important to be reasonable and avoid confrontation. In many cases, we will not investigate a complaint if you haven't tried to speak with your neighbour unless you don't think it is safe to do so.

How should I approach my neighbour if there's a problem?

If you decide to approach your neighbour, try to remember to:

  • pick a time when you are feeling calm. Shouting or being angry will cause more problems,
  • think through what you want to say, and don't stray from the main problem,
  • dealing with the issue face to face can be more informal,
  • if speaking to them face to face isn't possible - try using a Dear Neighbour card [pdf] 469KB,
  • explain what is causing you an issue, and why,
  • not jump to conclusions,
  • listen to the other person's response - they might have a good reason for their behaviour, or it might have been a one-off occasion,
  • try to reach a solution you are both happy with,
  • walk away - if you or the other person is getting angry.

If the problem you are experiencing is caused by children, do not approach them directly - speak to thier parents if you can.

Keep the noise down

Remember that no house or flat is totally soundproof - everyone can expect to hear some noise from neighbours, but there are things you can do to minimise disturbance - or that it might be possible to agree between neighbours.

  • Keep TVs and music to a reasonable level - especially in the summer, when open windows or doors will let the noise travel further,
  • Keep TVs and audio equipment away from party walls (walls that you share with a neighbour) and off of the floor, wherever possible,
  • If you're having a party, let your neighbours know with plenty of notice, so that they are prepared, and let them know when it will finish,
  • Ask guests to keep noise to a minimum if they're leaving your home late at night,
  • Think about the timing of some noisier household chores - like vacuuming, or putting the washing machine on. These activities are best done closer to the middle of the day if possible, not late at night, or early in the morning.