How to deal with difficult neighbours
When dealing with difficult neighbours it can be extremely stressful just trying to work out how to handle the situation, especially during the COVID19 situation. This guide will help you deal with problem neighbours, what to do about intimidating neighbours and how to gather evidence of a difficult neighbour. Neighbour harassment can be quite stressful especially if they are being verbally abusive neighbours, or you are the subject of psychological bullying by neighbours and also how to handle noisy neighbours.
You may have just moved into your dream home but then shortly afterwards find yourself living next door to a nightmare neighbour.
You may have fallen out with neighbour(s) or they have fallen out with you over something trivial or more serious. Have they become noisier or are they carrying out prolonged building works with no end in sight?
Your neighbour may be constantly playing loud music or having rowdy parties outside of the hours of 11pm to 7am. Their pet may be causing a disturbance by barking throughout the day or during the night and more seriously, your neighbour may be physically approaching you to verbally abuse you. You may even have been tolerating the neighbours consistently banging the lids of their bin lids!
You may have concerns about dealing with a difficult neighbour in relation to any of the following issues:
If you do have a situation that needs the attention of a Surveyor, a Surveyor will be able to advise you of your rights, your land, your boundaries, any agreements you may have to enter into with your neighbour and also prepare correspondence on your behalf to address any concerns you or your neighbour have.
Many people have suffered from these issues, but how do you deal with it?
Follow our guide:
Film/document a record of their behaviour
Whatever you do, get a record of what has been said or done by your neighbour (whether that be by using your mobile device to record the encounter or by email). You can use either of these as evidence to support the behaviour you have encountered with your neighbour in court (if it comes to that).
- Firstly, the best practice is to try to ignore them. When neighbours become or are being regularly difficult, they are just trying to disrupt your life and clearly looking for attention to try to make your life miserable (because usually, their life is!). Don’t get too sucked into the little things they do. They are just simply looking for a reaction from you and when you don’t give it, it can cause it to stop or to escalate.
If it stops, great. If it doesn’t, you have three options.
- Physically speaking to your neighbour: If you choose to do this (and if safe to do so), ensure that your mobile phone or a recording device is in your hand to have evidence of any unwanted and difficult behaviour. You can use voice notes on an iPhone or make a video of your neighbours behaviour using any handheld device but you must not point it directly at them as it could cause them to physically react. When using the video function of any device, do not make it obvious that you are recording the neighbour as it could potentially escalate the situation. If using an iPhone, just switch it to airplane mode so that the video or voice note will not be interrupted by someone calling you. Start recording before you get to the neighbour’s house. Hold the phone by your side when you are talking with them. Don’t worry too much if you are not getting their face in the video, you will still get their voice. Make sure someone knows that you are there or standing a safe distance away so that if you need help, you have someone to support you. If you choose to speak to your neighbour, speak friendly and calmly but only if safe to do so and only if they are known to be friendly and approachable in the past. Again, get someone in your house to visually monitor the situation whilst it is happening from a short distance. Never go and see a neighbour without someone being aware that you are there. This will ensure that if any issues arise, someone will be able to help you if you need it or call the Police on your behalf. Once you’ve spoken to the neighbour and the difficult behaviour continues, you should speak to your Local Authority and the Police.
- Your second option is to contact them via email. That way a record of what has been said by you and any response from them is recorded in writing. If your neighbour comes to your front door after this, speak friendly and calmly but only if safe to do so and only if they are known to be friendly and approachable in the past. Again, get someone in your house to visually monitor the situation whilst it is happening from a short distance. Never go and see a neighbour without someone being aware that you are there. This will ensure that if any issues arise, someone will be able to help you if you need it or call the Police on your behalf. Once you’ve emailed the neighbour and the difficult behaviour continues, you should speak to your Local Authority and the Police.
- Post a note through their door or send them a letter by recorded post, the latter would be more effective. If your neighbour comes to your front door after this, speak friendly and calmly but only if safe to do so and only if they are known to be friendly and approachable in the past. Again, get someone in your house to visually monitor the situation whilst it is happening from a short distance. Never go and see a neighbour without someone being aware that you are there. This will ensure that if any issues arise, someone will be able to help you if you need it or call the Police on your behalf. Once you’ve emailed the neighbour and the difficult behaviour continues, you should speak to your Local Authority and the Police.
The key points of this are to remember to:
- Not get angry as it will escalate the situation. Remain calm even if the neighbour doesn’t. If the neighbour becomes aggressive, retreat from the situation immediately and call the Police if you need to at any point.
- If you are uncomfortable with directly approaching your neighbour because they may have been difficult in the past, you may need to start gathering evidence of their behaviour if they are being difficult or they are harassing you.
If the neighbour comes to your front door you have two options:
- Don’t open the front door or;
- Open the door with a recording device in your hand (not pointed towards the neighbour) then calmly recite the following: “under the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 I am now asking you to cease and desist from coming to my front door and approaching us physically further“. Then close the door. Follow it through with the same wording either by sending by recorded delivery in a letter or send it by email (if you have their email address). This should advise the neighbour that if they continue their behaviour you have already requested that they stop doing this using the Protection of Harassment Act 1997. Once you’ve said this to the neighbour and the difficult behaviour continues, you should speak to your Local Authority and the Police.
If a neighbour is constantly harassing you
- You should record their behaviour by installing a Nest Outdoor Camera or Ring Outdoor Camera outside the front and back of your property. You could also install a Nest Door Bell or a Ring Door Bell at your front door as both of these devices immediately records anyone who comes up to the device. For a small subscription fee, it keeps a record of all footage for a period of time and you can download clips of incidents and save them to your phone or desktop computer in case you need them in the future.
- If you are being harassed by your neighbour, you should report this to your local authority and your local Police station. When you contact your local authority they will look into the issue with a view to making an order against the neighbour to stop the behaviour. Once your Local Authority has investigated the issues, they will get in contact with your neighbour to ascertain the situation and they will issue their findings to you. Their findings could result in a behaviour order against your neighbour.
- When you advise the Police that you have already advised the neighbour to stop harassing you under the protection of Harassment Act 1997, they will give you a CAD reference and they will investigate the situation on your behalf. Ensure that you keep all the CAD references the Police give you as it will help them with their investigations. The Police are able to deal with the issue if you have suffered any form of harassment from your neighbour. Once the Police have been informed of the harassing situation with your neighbour, they will ask you to confirm whether you wish to proceed with the investigation.
- If you decide to hold fire, they will keep your complaint on file until such time as you decide to press charges. Ultimately the decision is left for you to decide on how you want to proceed. You can report all the behaviour to the Police as it happens, however, you have the decision whether to proceed when you are ready. If this harassment and/or behaviour of the neighbour is causing you anxiety, click here.
- If you decide to push forward with the allegations you have made towards your neighbour, they will contact the neighbour and start investigations. You should then prepare to gather all of your evidence to give to the Police to assist them with their inquiry. Ultimately the decision is left for you to decide on how you want to proceed. You can report all the behaviour to the Police as it happens, however, you have the decision whether to proceed when you are ready. If this harassment and/or behaviour of the neighbour is causing you anxiety, click here.
A Nest doorbell, Nest Outdoor Camera or a Ring Door Bell or Ring Outdoor Camera has the capability to capture an abusive neighbour’s behaviour. Each device gives a crystal clear view and sound of the person which can then be presented to the Police or enable you to take civil action against the offender within six years.
Examples of Harassment
- unwanted phone calls, letters, emails or visits
- abuse and bullying online
- verbal abuse and threats
- smashing windows or using dogs to frighten you
- Neighbours consistent banging of wheelie bin lids
You can ask the Police to talk to the individual to stop the harassment and you can also take legal action against a person who subjects you to harassment. The Police have powers to deal with the situation and take action against the harasser if you have evidence of the harassment. Click here for more details.
How to Take action under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Harassment is a criminal offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
This means that someone can be prosecuted in the criminal courts if they harass you. It also means you can take action against the person in the civil courts.
If you have experienced at least two incidents of any of the examples of harassment listed above from your neighbour, you can act. Click here for more guidance.
If the offender is found guilty, they will receive a criminal record.
To take civil court action (even if the person harassing you hasn’t been found guilty), you can make a claim within six years of when the harassment happened.
Find your issue below for further guidance:
- Boundary issue, click here.
- Party Wall/Schedule of Condition issue, click here.
- Prolonged building works, click here.
- Barking dog, click here.
- Anti-Social Behaviour, click here.
- Harassment, click here.
- For your local citizen’s advice centre guidance, click here.
- For information and guidance on environmental law, click here
How to capture your neighbour’s behaviour on your land
Invest in some cameras for the front and back of your property. This is a sure-fire way of capturing your neighbour’s behaviour.
Google Hello Nest Video Doorbell lets you know who’s at the door, so you won’t miss a visitor or parcel delivery. It can send an alert to your smart device and can tell the difference between a person and something else. It gives you the full view with crystal clarity so you can see the person from head to toe, right down to the doorstep so you can see parcels left for you too, and you can speak to your visitor via the Nest app (iOS & Android). With an optional Nest Aware subscription, it can tell the difference between people you know and a stranger, and it live-streams 24/7 so you can always check what’s happening at your door. The beauty of this device is that for a small monthly subscription fee, it records and stores all activity so you can look back and record snippets of footage on a handheld device to use as evidence of being burgled, attempted burglary or a harassing neighbour!
Works with selected Alexa devices to launch real-time video with your voice. Lets you see, hear and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet and PC. You’ll get a notification when movement is detected or when visitors press the Doorbell. Works on any home, with or without existing doorbell wires. Monitors your home in HD video with infrared night vision. Lets you check-in on your property at any time with Live View, real-time video. Includes Theft Protection: If your doorbell gets stolen, they will replace it for free. The beauty of this device is that for a small monthly subscription fee, it records and stores all activity so you can look back and record snippets of footage on a handheld device to use as evidence of being burgled, attempted burglary or a harassing neighbour!
Nest Outdoor Camera
With top-notch visual clarity, processing power and connectivity, Nest Cam IQ Outdoor is a premium way to make sure that your home’s surrounding areas are safe. It’s weather-proof, temper-proof, and is able to detect a person up to 15 metres away, so it can help you find out about a break-in before it happens. It enables you to check in on your phone, even when you are out, and is clever enough to distinguish between a person and a thing. Supersight vision monitors and records the action with superb clarity, and it can zoom in and follow the action for you. A powerful speaker allows you to communicate through it using the Nest app, and, with a Nest Aware subscription (sold separately), it can send you familiar face alerts. The beauty of this device is that for a small monthly subscription fee, it records and stores all activity so you can look back and record snippets of footage on a handheld device to use as evidence of being burgled, attempted burglary or a harassing neighbour!
Ring Outdoor Camera
See, hear and speak to people and pets from your phone, tablet or select Echo device with Stick Up Cam Battery, a battery-powered camera that can be mounted anywhere, indoors or outdoors. With Live View, you can check on your home any time through the Ring app. Get notifications whenever motion is detected by adjusting your Motion Detection settings. Place it anywhere: indoors or outdoors, on flat surfaces or mount it to a wall. Easily set up your Stick Up Cam in just a few minutes. Powered by a quick-release removable battery pack. The beauty of this device is that for a small monthly subscription fee, it records and stores all activity so you can look back and record snippets of footage on a handheld device to use as evidence of being burgled, attempted burglary or a harassing neighbour!
Install good outside lighting
Control lights with your voice – works with Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple homekit devices for hands-free voice control. Control your smart outdoor lights with simple voice commands! Highlight your outdoors with the Philips hue discover floodlight. This kit includes all cables to start lighting your outdoors What’s required? – A ‘Phillips Hue Bridge‘ (sold separately) is required for smart control. Simply connect your bridge, plug in your new Philips Hue lights and take advantage of smart outdoor lighting via the ‘Philips Hue’ app. Note: add the product to the Hue Bridge by using the Serial Number on the back off the Wall Plate. Style with colour – Choose from 16 million colours including warm to cool white light to create the perfect ambience for relaxing, playing or entertaining outdoors. Discover the perfect smart lighting for parties, BBQs and more! Enhance your outdoor space – Create the perfect ambience for relaxing, playing or entertaining. Whether you want your garden to be vibrant for a party, or chilled to help you wind down, easily create the right setting to enjoy any moment outside.
Works with Alexa, and Google Assistant voice commands. Truly Smart Wi-Fi Flood Light. Novostella Wi-Fi floodlights work with Alexa Echo Dot, Google Assistant for Voice control and from your smartphone via the Smart Life app (Android & iOS), free to control your indoor/outdoor lighting from your home or any other location. RGBCW=RGB + (2700-6500K) tunable white. Wi-Fi Smart Floodlight = White Floodlight + RGB Floodlight + More Functions. In addition to 16 Million Colours adjustable, there is also a white light function with adjustable color temperature(2700-6500K). 2000lm high lumens, brightness, light modes and saturation are adjustable, meets all your needs. Set schedules to automatically turn on and off the light as routines. Memory function is available. The last settings will be saved for quick access next time, to make daily life much more convenient. The light also supports customized settings (delay, sunrise, and sunset, weather, etc.). Set-up is pretty easy and takes only a few minutes with the help of the detailed guide on video and manual. For any question during the installation, you can get prompt support by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Only Support 2.4gHz). The fixture with 12 pcs enhanced fin-type heat sink, strengthening the light and having better heating diffusion. Ensure stable performance under most weather conditions.
These Zicbol Solar-powered Light consists of 100 LED Chips, lighting up your whole garden! The solar wall lamp is equipped with independent solar panels and 5 meters of wire connections. With built-in enhanced PIR motion inductor, these security floodlights with Motion Sensor can detect the motion sensitively within a distance of 16 feet and angle of 120 degrees. Due to the 2400mAh lithium-ion battery, these solar led security lights can be lit for a long time and based on monocrystalline silicon, the solar conversion efficiency is up to 20%.
This stylish, wall-mounted, up/down outdoor light has a stunning, modern stainless steel flush cylinder design and is ideal for lighting gardens, paths, garages, patios, courtyards, decorative porches and driveways. As well as being IP44 outdoor weatherproof rated, this external light also features a practical integrated PIR motion detector – providing extra security for the home and giving peace of mind. The wall-mounted outdoor flush light comes in a sturdy and weatherproof durable stainless steel design and emits bright light from both the top and bottom. This robust, illuminating external light is IP44 Rated and is fully certified for outdoor installation.
Click here to view a range to light up your back garden to stop your neighbour sneaking around the back without being seen!
Purchase a Security Timer Light Switch
This will confuse your neighbours because they will never know if you are in or not! Incredibly easy to set up and use timer sockets which is why they have 4-star reviews. Compact, economical, energy-saving and can help to deter intruders. These are adjustable for 24 hours with 15-minute minimum intervals and are also approved to BS1363. These sockets are CE Approved with a rating of 13A, 3200W. The beauty of these is that they can be used multiple times a day.
Control electronics from anywhere using your tablet or smartphone with the TP-Link Smart Wi-Fi Plug. You can turn devices on/off, check status, create schedules and set timers using the Kasa app. Gain peace of mind by checking on your devices remotely and always coming home to a well-lit house. Use away-mode to make it look like you are home when you travel and have lights turn on/off at set times to conserve energy and save on your next bill. Add voice control to any electronic device by pairing with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With IFTTT, you can also create personalised Applets that trigger automatic actions on your smart plug.
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