Nuisance neighbours – how to complain and what evidence you need

A man was found after his dogs were recorded barking more than 1,500 times in 20 minutes.

John Peter Laveric, 45, was told he had to pay more than £500 when it was found his ‘large mastiff-type dogs’ were recorded barking 1,645 times during the course of 20 minutes, equating to more than one a second.

Figures released before the pandemic found that one in four people have had a problem with nuisance neighbors in the previous 12 months.

And this is likely to have increased over the past two years – first during lockdown and now that a lot more people are working from home.

But what should you do to resolve disputes with a nuisance neighbor?

Here is what Citizen Advice says you should do….

Talk to them

If your neighbor is noisy or stops you feeling comfortable, try to discuss it with them if you can.

Only talk to your neighbor if you feel safe and comfortable.

It’s quicker to talk face to face – but you can write, text or call if that’s easier. You can take someone with you for support.

Tell your neighbor how their behavior is affecting you and what would help. Listen to your neighbor and see if you can reach a compromise together.

Keep records

Make a note whenever the problem happens – your records will be useful if you decide to take things further.

Write as much detail as possible. Include what happened, the length of time and how it affected you. For example, ’22 June – dogs barking from 10.15am to 12.35pm. Loud enough to hear in living room – had to turn up my radio’.

Keep any messages your neighbor sends you and collect evidence if you feel safe to. For example, take a photo of rubbish that’s been dumped in your garden.

Getting help from a mediator

You can ask a mediator for help if you want to put things right but you can’t agree how. A mediator is someone who doesn’t know either of you and who’s trained to help people resolve disagreements.

It’s a good idea to ask your council if they can help you find a mediator – they might help even if you’re not a council tenant.

If you rent from a housing association, you could ask them about finding a mediator, although you might have to pay for their services.

If you think it’s anti-social behaviour

If your neighbor’s behavior is classed as ‘anti social’ there are steps you can take to stop it happening. It’s likely to be anti-social behavior if it causes ‘nuisance and annoyance’. This could be, for example, if they:

  • make a lot of noise
  • dump rubbish
  • write graffiti
  • have a dog that barks a lot or causes trouble
  • use your garden without permission
  • harass you because of religion, race, sex, disability or another characteristic

It isn’t anti-social behavior if the problem’s about normal day-to-day living, for example if you don’t like your neighbor’s cooking smells or you can hear their baby crying. The only way to solve these problems is by talking to your neighbor to try and agree a compromise.

If you’re not sure whether your neighbor’s behavior is anti-social, you can talk it through with Citizens Advice.

Report the anti-social behaviour

If you know your neighbor is renting and who from, talk to their landlord first – this might be a private landlord, housing association or the council.

If that doesn’t sort out the problem you can go to the council if you haven’t already talked to them. Check their website for how to complain about anti social behaviour.

You can go straight to the council if:

  • you don’t know whether your neighbor rents or owns
  • they rent but you don’t know who from
  • they own their home

What to say when you report it

Give your neighbor’s address and their name if you know it. When you describe the problem, say:

  • how often it happens
  • how it’s affecting you
  • what you’ve done to try and solve it
  • who else you’ve reported it to

If you’ve been collecting evidence about the problem, offer to send a copy.

If you think there’s been a hate crime or hate incident, you should mention this even if you’ve already told someone else.

Ask when you’ll hear back and what to do if the problem gets worse.

If you report the problem by phone, make a note of the date and time you call and write down the name of the person you spoke to. You might need these details if you take the problem further.

Contact the police if you think your neighbor has broken the law – for example, they’ve been violent or threatening.

Call 999 if the crime is still happening or 101 to report a crime later.

If you think your neighbor’s making trouble because of your race, religion, sexuality or other characteristic, it could be a hate crime or hate incident. Tell the police in the normal way or report it online.

If you’re unhappy with the council or landlord’s response

If there have been a number of complaints about anti-social behavior, you might be able to get the problem looked at again – this is called a ‘community trigger’. Check your local council’s website for how it works in your area.

If you’re still not happy with a housing association or the council, complain using their complaints process – you’ll find it on their website.

If you still think they haven’t acted as they should, you can go to an ombudsman. They’ll look at your complaint and decide if the council or housing association should put things right.

To complain about a housing association, go to the Housing Ombudsman. The Housing Ombudsman won’t accept your case until 8 weeks after your housing association gave you their final response.

To complain about the council, go to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

If you still need help

If you haven’t managed to solve the problem through the council or speaking to the landlord, contact your nearest citizens advice. They’ll help you decide what to do next.

Leave a Comment