How to Deal with Nightmare Neighbours

by The FindLaw Team

An admission: the author of this piece has actually never seen an episode of Neighbours, but is aware that there is a line in the theme song that suggests that we all need good neighbours. Indeed we do. Unfortunately, some people are lumped with bad neighbours as well, and many of us have seen an episode of a daily current affair show which highlights this reality.

Any reader who currently resides next to a nightmare neighbour may have some options available to them in dealing with a neighbour who is a nuisance. Read on to find out how to deal with that annoying neighbour appropriately.

Dealing with an annoying neighbour

Complaints surrounding noise, litter, trees, pets, or pretty much anything that may cause a grievance between neighbours can be dealt with sensibly. Many readers may have had to deal with one of the problems at some stage, and in such a scenario, common sense should prevail. If excessive noise is a rarity, the best course of action might be to suffer from a restless slumber for one night, or better yet, join in the party if you’re able to. For any noise issues that are recurring, again a reasonable approach, such as actually bringing up the issue with your neighbour in person is perhaps the way to go.

If reasoning with your neighbour has failed, mediation can be an option that is available. Queensland and Victoria have dispute resolution programs run by the Department of Justice that can deal with disputes between neighbours, while in New South Wales, help can be sought through a Community Justice Centre.

Taking legal action against a neighbour

Before dealing with what legal options are available to a person whose neighbour is a nuisance, it should be noted that there is a difference between what the law considers a person who is ‘nuisance’, as opposed to someone who is simply being a nuisance to their neighbours.

In order to establish a legally recognised action of nuisance, it’s not enough to prove that a neighbour has been annoying, but rather a person’s actions are such that it is hindering the right to enjoy the use of both the private and public property, which is affecting a number of residents – not just you.

Actions that that damage air quality or cause noise pollution, which can be found in Queensland’s Environmental Protection Act for example can be considered as legal nuisance and may be an offence. Local councils do have some statutory powers to stop a person from being a nuisance, and they can give specific orders to stop the offending behaviour. However, a council can only take action when there has been a complaint made, rather than proactively pursuing an order in most cases. When court action is initiated, the courts might consider the extent of the damage of the actions, how many people it affects, and the length of time the offending behaviour in finding if a person has been a legal nuisance.

Anyone who has any issues with an annoying neighbour should seek appropriate advice on what is the most sensible course of action.


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