News – How can you cope with annoying neighbours?

16/06/2016 –

Comment pouvez-vous réagir face aux nuisances de voisinage sur

If your neighbours are excessively irritating, you don’t have to just accept it. If discussion doesn’t help the situation, you can go to a Justice of the Peace or even lodge a complaint against them. So how does this work?

Do your neighbours have a rooster that regularly crows at night, or is the volume of their radio so loud that you can hear it in your garden, and have to suffer their music choices? Perhaps they have a tree in their garden that blocks out all the sun in your own, or they cook all sorts of exotic dishes which can lead to olfactory irritation.

All this can give rise to extreme frustration- however, you can also take steps to combat this

Is the noise excessive?

If the annoyance caused is sufficiently serious, you can say that your neighbours are causing excessive nuisance. You could argue that the annoyance caused by your neighbour is greater than what you would usually have to tolerate from them, and that the normal balance between your garden and that of your neighbour has been disturbed.

In this type of discussion, tribunal is the final option when noise is excessive. Numerous criteria play a role. For example, night-time sound pollution is commonly classified as ‘louder’ than that which takes place in the daytime. The place where you live (for example in a city or in a more rural area) is therefore taken into account to evaluate the extent of the nuisance. Furthermore, it is also taken into account if the activity causing the noise was already taking place before you moved in.

Have they violated any rules?

It could be that your neighbour is also violating other laws. So, for example, if your neighbour is making a lot of noise at night, they could be in breach of certain stipulations of the local council. Certain municipal by-laws also forbid noise during the day. Consult the by-laws of the area where you live. You can also find them on the website of your town or area.

There also exist noise laws concerning musical activity (for example for cafes, parties or dinners where music is played). These rules can also have been violated by the noise your neighbour makes.

Talk about it to your neighbour

If your neighbour is causing you irritation, try to find a solution by talking to them. If there are other neighbours equally inconvenienced, try to get them involved. In this way, your neighbours won’t think you’re the only ones to complain.

Lodge a complaint

If talking to them hasn’t worked, if there is still noise occurring during the night, call the police. Furthermore you can- if there is noise pollution during the day- go to the municipality and check if there are any communal rules that your neighbour is breaking.

If this is the case, you could contact the police or the local authorities and request intervention. You can, for example, assure that your neighbour will pay an administrative fine.

Institute conciliation proceedings

You can also institute conciliation proceedings before the Justice of the Peace. You can go yourself without necessarily having to be represented by a lawyer.

The Justice of the Peace will gather you and your neighbour together for an interview in their office at a specific date and time.

If you don’t come to an agreement through this conversation or if your neighbour doesn’t turn up, the magistrate will issue a record of the non-conciliation, which has the same value as a judgement.

In the case where it is not determined, you must launch ‘real’ proceedings.

Begin proceedings

You can also begin proceedings before the Justice of the Peace. It is preferable that you contact a lawyer.

During the proceedings, you can ask the magistrate that the cause of the disturbance be eliminated. They can, for example, forbid your neighbour from playing music at certain hours; they can order that the tree is cut down, etc.

The Justice of the Peace can also establish measures aiming to reduce annoyance and discomfort, for example by recommending to your neighbour that they install insulation.

The tribunal can finally award you damages.

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