Neighbours from hell

If your neighbours are noisy, rude, or just plain awful, the law can help you. Here's how to deal with neighbours from hell.

gate with 'private' notice on it

Just because there's a gate between you it doesn't mean you won't annoy each other

Help! My neighbours are harassing me

They aren’t just the neighbours from hell, they are quite deliberately making your life a living hell. Maybe they’re shouting lewd comments when you leave the house, pumping up their music on purpose after you’ve told them you have an exam, or accidently-on-purpose throwing all their litter onto your lawn?

Whatever their harassment method of choice, the law can help you. Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, residents can take action against anyone who pursues “a course of conduct which amounts to the harassment of another” if they can prove this behaviour is done deliberately.

You also need to provide information, and hopefully proof, that harassment occurred on at least two occasions. So keep a diary and write down the time and date of every unpleasant incident. Then call the coppers and get your life back.

My neighbour’s dog keeps shitting in my garden

If navigating your way through your garden resembles some sordid dog-pooey-twist on playing Minesweeper, it might be worth looking at the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996. This Act considers it an offence for a careless dog owner to not pick up its precious pooch’s poo and they can be whacked with a hefty fine. So put down the pooper-scooper and protective footwear and threaten your neighbour with the law instead – then celebrate with a shit-free garden party.

My neighbours won’t shut the hell up

Whether your neighbours indulge in frequent midnight screaming matches, crank out the karaoke at 3am, or have a penchant for late night DIY, their loud noise is going to affect your life. Nobody wants to be the neighbour knocking politely on the door in their dressing gown, asking someone to “keep it down a bit”, but consistent noise can cause stress levels to skyrocket and be damaging to your health.

Luckily the Noise Act 1996 is here to help you recover a full night’s sleep. If excessive noise is being made between 11pm and 7am, let your local council know what’s going on. They can order your noisy neighbours to shut up immediately, confiscate their sound system and/or give them a fine.

If their ear-throbbing antics are non-stop, it may be worth reporting this to your local council. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, they can investigate an ongoing complaint and serve an abatement notice if necessary, which will make it an offence if they continue to make noise.

Yuck. My neighbour’s house is disgusting

Overflowing bins. A rat infestation. Or a garden so full of rubbish the germs have formed their own society and pecking order. If a nearby home should, ideally, have a hazardous waste warning on the door, you can force them to clean up their act.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, you can protect yourself from neighbourly behaviour that could affect your health. For more information, or to report Mr and Mrs Dirty, contact your local council’s Environmental Health department.

I think I’m living next to a crack den or brothel.

Lucky you. Not. If your street has become a magnet for undesirable visitors, then it might be worth cracking out the Housing Act 1996. Under this act you can appeal to the High Court or County Court to grant an injunction to stop these neighbours from “engaging or threatening” in conduct causing or likely to cause a nuisance. It also contains a clause that prohibits use of residential premises for immoral or illegal purposes. Or you can just call the cops or Crimestoppers anonymously to dob them in.

Can I get an ASBO imposed on my problem neighbour?

So you’ve tried everything else, but your neighbour is still terrorising the neighbourhood/having noisy sex/making you cry yourself to sleep. It might be time to see if you can get an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) placed on them. They can be given to anyone over 10, so even those troublesome tweenagers who throw rocks at the window can be dealt with. Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, you can appeal to the police or local council, and have them ask magistrates to impose an ASBO. This can ban them from certain behaviour or geographical areas. But be warned, should a court hearing go ahead, the magistrate will want to hear evidence from several people in the community, so it might be worth getting your (nicer) neighbours to go in on it with you.

Photo by volunteer photographer Trishita

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015