Wherever possible we expect people to have tried to resolve matters themselves and reporting a problem to us should always be a last resort.
Proving a Statutory Nuisance or anti-social behaviour can be a lengthy process. In the first instance it would be best to talk directly to the person causing the disturbance and on this page you find our advice for doing so.
Advice about approaching a neighbour who is causing you a problem
Before approaching your neighbour you need to be clear about what the problem is, how it affects you and what outcome you would like. It is important that you are careful in the way that you approach them.
The advice on this page assumes that there is neither threatening behaviour nor danger of physical violence. If there is, we suggest you consider going to the police and discussing this with them. Sometimes people tell us that they feel their neighbours are potentially threatening but in most cases we find that when we have contacted the neighbour, they have been very surprised and cannot understand why neighbours have not spoken to them directly.
The most effective approach is to try to speak to your neighbour face-to-face as this is usually better received than pushing notes through the door or banging on the wall. If you do decide to approach them you may find it useful to write down what you want to say. This will help you order your thoughts and make sure you cover all the points you want to make.
Try to choose a good time to make the first approach, when neither of you are busy. It is also better not to try and talk to them when you (or they) are angry. It is worth trying to arrange a suitable time and place, free from distractions, so that you can talk about the problem properly.
Speaking face to face
When you speak to your neighbour try to remain calm and friendly and say that you are glad you have got together to sort things out. Explain what the problem is and how it affects you. Try to express how you feel, without blaming your neighbour. This will help you in getting your message across. For example, “When I hear your TV after 11.30pm I can’t sleep and I get angry,” is less confrontational than, “You’re very inconsiderate with your loud TV, keeping me awake at night”. It is important to separate the problem from the person.
Listen to what your neighbour has to say in return; they have a point of view, even if you don’t agree with it. By listening as well as talking you help to build a positive, co-operative relationship and often people are more willing to solve a problem if they feel that they have been listened to.
Trying to solve a problem
Most people find that the best approach is to treat the meeting as a chance to solve a shared problem. It is good to find common ground and even agreeing to differ is a start. Make sure you consider all the issues and it might help to start by looking at less contentious areas of concern first. It is important to consider your neighbour’s suggestions and to work together to find a solution; it is usually true that two heads are better than one in these situations. Try and explore different options and then pick the one on which you can both agree. This may require some compromise from one or both of you.
If you do reach agreement you need to make sure that you both know who has agreed to do what and by when. It helps to write this down and both keep a signed copy, especially if the decision or option is not a simple one.
You might agree a date to meet again and discuss how things are going, and also decide how you will communicate if there are problems in the future.
Keeping things friendly and productive
Our top tips for keeping things friendly and productive are:
- Agree not to interrupt, shout at or verbally abuse each other
- Don’t assume others have the same values / opinions as you do
- Don’t assume people are doing things just to annoy you, even if it seems that way
- Don’t imagine your neighbours know what is bothering you if you have never told them
- Don’t retaliate – it will nearly always make things worse
- Don’t argue about past issues and exactly who did what – instead concentrate on what you want to happen in the future
- Don’t bring up things which have nothing to do with the present problem
- Don’t agree to solutions you think are unfair, just for a quiet life
If you would prefer to write to your neighbour, we have prepared a Sample template for writing to your neighbour you could adapt for your own use.
If the problem is serious and you really feel that you cannot approach your neighbour directly, we would encourage you to contact a mediation service. Mediation allows parties in a dispute to outline their issues in confidence with an impartial and independent mediator, who can facilitate discussions between those involved.
If you feel that you are unable to speak to or contact your neighbour directly, then the next option is to consider the services of a community mediator.
If you have a problem and have been unable to resolve this informally by speaking to or contacting your neighbour directly or through mediation then you can contact us to see if we can help.