Good Neighbour Guide
Good neighbours are considerate, tolerant and understanding of others and their different lifestyles, and they help build successful communities. Despite this, there are different behaviours that can cause problems for neighbours and some are more serious than others.
Different lifestyles and one-off incidents
We are all different and you should respect that. Often people do not realise they may be disturbing others. For example, someone vacuuming late at night may not be aware it can be heard by their neighbours. One-off incidents can be annoying, such as a loud party, but if they are not frequent then you should try to tolerate it. If they occur on a regular basis, and the disturbance causes you a problem, it is often a matter of making your neighbour aware in a friendly manner and seeking to work out a solution together.
L&Q staff will encourage residents to try to resolve matters themselves. Involving us before talking to your neighbours, may lead to hostile feelings and make matters worse.
Anti-social behaviour (ASB) involves unacceptable behaviour by residents that causes nuisance and annoyance, and can include threatening, violent or criminal behaviour. Take a look at our information on what ASB is (and is not) and also the section on what you can do to stop it.
What you can do if your neighbour is causing problems
We recommend talking to your neighbour as soon as possible about anything they are doing that's affecting you. This is often the quickest and easiest solution.
Some tips on approaching your neighbour:
- Choose a time that's convenient for everyone
- Plan what you are going to say
- Be polite and explain the problem and how it’s affecting you
- Listen to what they have to say
- Be understanding of different ways of life
- Be open to suggestions
- Come to an agreement that suits everyone
Try not to:
- Approach your neighbour if you don't feel safe
- Go round when you feel angry or very upset
- Be argumentative or use threatening behaviour
If you feel you cannot approach your neighbour yourself, contact us and we discuss your options. If the behaviour escalates to ASB, we will deal with it using our procedures for this.
Mediation is a way to resolve disputes between neighbours, particularly when there is a desire to find a solution and communication between parties has become difficult. Both parties must be willing to talk with a trained mediator.
The mediator listens to both sides of the story and seeks to reach a mutually acceptable solution. It would not be imposed against the wishes of anyone involved, and you can meet the mediator without the other party being present.
We can put you and your neighbour in touch with an independent mediation service.
Keeping a record of the times, dates and a description of what has happened can be useful to show the type of problems you are having. They are also useful for recording reference numbers given by the police or the local authority environmental health department. Diary sheets help us to decide what action, if any, we can take to help.
What you can do to be a good neighbour
Here are some tips on how you can be a good neighbour to prevent problems arising.
- As part of everyday living, and the fact that no home is totally soundproof, we all have to expect some noise from the people living around us. Common everyday living noise includes TVs and stereos, DIY, dogs barking, intruder or car alarms, slamming doors or simply walking around the property
- Recognise that your neighbours do not want to hear noise from your home, particularly late at night, or for long periods
- Keep noise (eg from the TV, stereo, radio) at a reasonable level at all times of day
- Noise carries through walls, floors and doors. Laminate flooring (particularly in flats), and other hard surfaces, can amplify noise. To help reduce it, put down rugs and fit felt or rubber pads to movable furniture
- Warn your neighbours if you are going to do anything noisy (eg having a party or doing DIY)
- Co-operate with your neighbours if they ask you to reduce noise. For example, you can position your TV or stereo away from the walls you share with your neighbours
If you are affected by noise then you can contact your local authority and ask them to investigate the problem. If the noise is unreasonable they may decide to take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Being a responsible dog owner
- Dogs are great companions but to keep a dog you should contact us first to check you are allowed one.
- If you are allowed a dog, make sure it doesn’t whine or bark for long periods of time
- If your dog fouls in a public space, you should clean it up
- Keep your dog under control at all times. Use a lead when walking the dog. Dogs running around freely, particularly on the streets or in communal areas, can be intimidating for other people
- Behaviour classes help to teach your dog to be obedient and get them used to being around other dogs
- Get your dog micro-chipped so it can be traced back to you if it ever goes missing
- If you are aware that an L&Q resident has a dangerously out of control dog or banned breed, you should report this to us as well as the police.
- You may share communal areas with your neighbours, such as staircases, balconies, corridors, lifts or fire exits.
- Do not block communal areas with prams, bicycles or your other personal belongings
- If you have a communal bin area, dispose of your rubbish correctly in the bins, and make sure the area around the bins is kept tidy
- If you have any bulky household items that you no longer want, your local authority can usually take them away for you (often they provide this service for free)
- If you share a communal door, make sure it’s always kept closed and you don’t let anyone in you don’t know. This way everyone’s homes are kept secure
- Do not allow main entrance doors to slam shut, especially at night, as this is a common source of noise complaint.
If you have a garden it can be a cause of problems if it’s not cared for properly.
- Do not allow your garden to become overgrown and unkempt. Keeping it tidy and free of rubbish helps improve the look of the area. Where gardens look neglected they can sometimes encourage fly-tipping
- If your neighbours trees or hedges are a problem, you may be able to prune or remove anything that comes over to your side of the boundary as long as you offer any clippings back to your neighbour. But, some trees are protected and it’s best to check first with your neighbour before you take any action
- If you are elderly or disabled and unable to maintain your garden, contact us and we will consider what action to take
- Many people enjoy seeing wildlife in their gardens, such as foxes, squirrels and badgers, but some people see these as a nuisance. If you wish to discourage wildlife from your garden then you need to restrict access to any food supplies they have, remove any possible places of shelter, and deter them from coming in. For information and advice you could contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
Local authorities have responsibility for dealing with untidy gardens and land in some situations. For example, where material is rotting and causing a nuisance or attracting rats or mice.
Contact your local authority if there are problems.
- There isn’t a law that says you cannot have a bonfire in your garden but the main cause of annoyance from bonfires is the smoke.
- Let your neighbours know that you plan to have a bonfire and see if you can agree an acceptable date and time
- Choose the time of day and weather conditions that will cause the least inconvenience to neighbours
- Do not light a bonfire if your neighbour has washing out, or if their windows are open, or they are using their garden
- Do not light the bonfire close to your neighbours’ property to prevent the risk of the fire spreading
- Instead of having a bonfire you could consider other methods of disposing of rubbish, such as using the local household waste recycling centre or composting garden waste.
Having frequent bonfires could be causing a ‘statutory nuisance’ and the local authority has the power to issue ‘abatement notices’ to stop them happening. Contact your local authority for further information and advice. The local authority could also fine you if you light a fire and you allow the smoke to drift across the road and become a danger to traffic.
- Park considerately
- Recognise that you don’t have a right to park outside your home. Anyone can park on a public road as long as the Highway Code is followed
- Avoid blocking entrances, dropped kerbs, garages or pavements.
L&Q will take action in respect nuisance parking (eg abandoned cars, parking outside designated bays, vehicles left to advertise their sale, or carrying out repairs or maintenance on a road).
If there is a parking enforcement scheme in place in your area, you can contact them to help manage incorrect parking. If there is a scheme in place, you will find the details and contact information on local signage.
- Children playing in the street can cause concern that cars might get damaged. Consider if there’s a safer place to play such as a park or a skateboard area
- Consider how the noise of children playing outside may affect your neighbours
- If a child accidentally throws a ball into your property, you should either hand it back or allow it to be collected
- If children harass, intimidate or disturb others then complaints are justified and parents must respond reasonably