Settling disputes with your nuisance neighbours

 

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Moving into a new home is an exciting time filled with many unknowns. Where your parking space is. What day the rubbish is taken away.

 

And one of the most scary parts of moving into a new home is the prospect of getting to know your neighbours. Small talk and awkward waving is all part of the process. But what if your new neighbours are horrible?

 

What if they play loud music at all times of the day and night? What if their children are terribly noisy, screaming and shouting every weekend from dawn to dusk? What if their dogs bark constantly?

 

These may seem like small complaints. But, as anyone who has experienced them will know, after a few months of non-stop annoyance, these become massive problems in your life.

 

What is a nuisance neighbour?

Both you and your neighbour are entitled to use your property as you wish without being nuisances to each other. Your neighbour becomes a nuisance when their actions interferes with or endangers the public, or inconveniences another person’s enjoyment of the premises.

The test of nuisance is “unreasonableness”. People are expected to tolerate a level of interference but when this is exceeded, action may be taken.

To determine “unreasonableness” you must consider:

  • Extent, duration and time of interference.
  • Harm caused.
  • Possibility of mitigating harm.

 

How can you deal with a nuisance neighbour?

 

When there is an immediate risk to your health and safety, you should intervene. But in all other circumstances, you should not take the law into your hands. At this point it may be advisable for you to seek legal assistance.

You may request an abatement order which is used to stop a public nuisance. In this case you, as the victim, may apply to local authorities for an abatement order. A police officer would be able to issue a demand or fine. An interdict can restrain your nuisance neighbour from continuing.