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– No one wants a nuisance neighbour, but if you have one, here’s what you can do
Keep a Diary
At the first sign of any trouble from your neighbour or members or the local community, no matter how petty it might seem, always start a diary of all incidents, times and dates – make this as detailed as you can. You could compare this to a CV that’s completed when you’re trying to get another job. This is vital if matters get worse and will give you some proof of events. (You can use our generic blank form for this purpose).
Try and approach your Neighbour for a ‘friendly chat’ about the problem. Try hard to keep it light hearted and friendly. It may be that there is a situation you are unaware of and this could clear the air between you. Remember, that sometimes people aren’t aware of any distress or disturbance they may be causing you. If you can’t or don’t want to approach your neighbour in person, try writing to them and outlining your concerns instead.
Communication breakdowns often lead to further misery and can make the situation a lot worse. A friendly approach can often work wonders, sometimes it is good to talk! A misunderstanding that might not be evident could lead to worse problems. Remember too that some neighbour’s are just oblivious to other people’s needs and have little respect for these no matter what you say or do, you are only human, and you can only try so much. If this is the case then you need to get specialist help/advice as soon as possible.
There are now Neighbour Conciliation and Mediation services available that can act as a mediator in your situation. Look for your nearest service in the telephone book, online or ring your local authority Housing Dept. for information. You can also try our online link directory for internet links of various organisation’s/services. You should try to use Conciliation if you can, this shows you are not being difficult and really want to resolve issues. It may even hopefully solve your problem.
Start A File
Keep all records – noise sheets, letters – everything that is related together, in a file. Make sure you keep copies of all letters you send (sign the copy too!) and log details of any phone calls you make to whoever (get their name and contact tel. number) about the matter. If possible ask for these people to confirm in writing the basis of your phone call with them. Make sure you always keep your diary up to date.
Starting the ball rolling
If you rent from a Local Authority or own your own property then contact the Local Council (Environmental Health Section/Department) and explain your situation in full. Ask them what their policies and procedures are for dealing with Neighbour associated problems – ask them to send you copies of them. Then ask them to look into matters on your behalf as they have a duty towards you to try to resolve any problems with the neighbour or take appropriate action. You might do this before contacting the conciliation service or get your Council to refer you to one instead.
If you rent from a Housing Association – the same situation exists.
If you own your own home you should check ALL your house Insurance Policies (Contents and Buildings) to see if you have access to a legal helpline or legal cover – these are often free and included within insurance policies, but check first before using any service that you may get charged for! Contact your Insurance Company in the first instance for advice. If not then you need to consult a Solicitor.
Do NOT contact a Solicitor until you have checked your policies, as if you do contact Solicitor’s in advance, you may void any legal help that could be available from your insurance company/policy. Make sure your Insurance Company gives you the go ahead and be guided by them with any procedures.
If you have an anti-social neighbour that rents their home from a Private Landlord then again get legal advice accordingly as the Landlord might need to be contacted by letter about different matters. Landlords have obligations and duties towards you and you may have a neighbour that could be breaching their tenancy agreement (e.g. their tenancy contract may stipulate no excessive and un-reasonable noise between the hours of 11pm to 7am, etc)
Seeking legal advice
If your Insurance Cover isn’t for legal help and costs then you will need to get advice from a Solicitor. Keep in mind you might not be eligible for legal advice and help and it could well turn out to be a expensive exercise. However, most Solicitors operate a 20 minute free legal advice scheme so use it if you can! You can find online legal help within our online link directory. One letter to a problem neighbour might do the trick, but you also you need to know your rights and what to do if anything happens. If you can avoid a legal battle then PLEASE do so. It is both very costly, very stressful and could cause permanent damage to neighbour relations. If the situation warrants it and all else has failed then you are unfortunately probably left with no alternative.
Any problems / incidents then ring the Police. Always contact the Police on 999 if you or other’s are in imminent danger. Explain matters to the Police, ask for the Officer or Clerk you speak to for their names and details – log this in your diary. Request that the Police attend for the purpose of speaking to your neighbour(s) and taking whatever action might be appropriate. A verbal warning might be enough, and with 3 of these, you may be able to instigate proceedings under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. See our website Legislation Section for more details.
Ask for a Community Officer to be assigned to you and to call round for an informal chat about matters. Your Police Force should by now have in place some specific procedures and policies for dealing with NFH. If not then ring your Police HQ and ask to speak to a Senior Officer about it and find out what their policies are.
It doesn’t matter how many times you have to ring the Police a catalogue of events and a picture is being built of your situation. Always exercise your rights to contact the Police over a matter that concerns you.
Many victims of neighbour abuse have in the past failed to ring the Police for fear of looking foolish or wasting Police time and resources. However a long history of what might seem ‘petty’ incidents can paint a very different picture in the long run.
Ask the Police to refer you to your local Victim Support if this is relevant. You will need ongoing support and someone to guide you if things get worse. You can also contact them yourself and ask them to assist or advise you who can contact for more help.
Local Councillor’s and MP’s
Subject to how your situation progresses it might become necessary for you to contact your local Councillor and your MP.
Remember these people are paid to serve you and you should insist that you are not ignored. Explain matters to them and show them your records. Again, ask for discussions to be confirmed in writing and file all letters. Check this website’s ‘Resources’ section for standard forms, letters and e-mail templates that you are free to use or adapt to your own needs.