Love thy neighbour? What to do when neighbours don’t become good friends...

Neighbourhood Watch: have you got a disruptive neighbour in St Albans or Harpenden?

Neighbourhood Watch: have you got a disruptive neighbour in St Albans or Harpenden? - Credit: Archant

Have you got a neighbour in St Albans, Harpenden or the surrounding areas that drives you mad? Most of us – even through gritted teeth – can put up with the odd late night noise or one-off inconsiderate parking by our neighbours. But what happens when the problem grows, patience wears thin and neighbours become a nuisance, and in some cases their behaviour could threaten the value of our property?

A new survey reveals that 18 million Brits say their neighbours have become a nuisance.

Over half (51 per cent) of those who have encountered a nuisance neighbour feel stressed or depressed as a result, a quarter (24 per cent) want to move to a new area, one in five (20 per cent) no longer sleep well and 18 per cent say that they no longer feel safe in their home.

The top ten traits to get home owners’ blood boiling (according to the research) are:

1. Your neighbour appears like magic every time you leave the house and tries to strike up a conversation.

2. Those who claim your black bin despite your house number clearly displayed on it.

3. Pets who leave unwanted ‘gifts’ in your garden.

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4. Neighbours parking in front of your house despite having their own driveway/parking space.

5. Those who use your Wi-Fi connection for free because yours is available to them.

6. Noisy neighbours with blaring televisions.

7. Litter droppers – right in front of your property.

8. Nosey neighbours, gossips and curtain twitchers.

9. A next door or neighbouring garden which looks like a scrap yard, with unwanted household items and broken vehicles.

10. Not-so-happy families – those who are happy to air their dirty laundry and argue in public.

So, what can be done?

- An amicable solution is in everyone’s best interest. If you and your neighbour are on speaking terms, try having an informal chat with them – they may not even be aware they are causing a problem.

- If the informal approach doesn’t work or isn’t viable, try contacting your local council or Citizens Advice Bureau. They can offer practical advice and may even be able to provide a mediator to help solve the quarrel.

- Log all complaints – keep a record of loud music, dogs barking, alarms sounding etc and at what time of day or night these occur. Many people may be oblivious that they are causing a problem. Sometimes, people will use the hoover or washing machine at night just to save on energy bills – unaware they are disturbing you.

- If the problem involves overhanging branches from a tree or garden material growing into your own garden, offer to cut them down yourself to save your neighbour coming over onto your property.

- If the problem persists, seek legal action – as a last resort. You can contact your local Environmental Health Department who must take ‘all responsible steps’ to investigate your complaint. Remember though, taking legal action could result in negative relationships and is expensive and time consuming.