Problems with your neighbours?

The Citizens Advice Bureau says arguments between neighbours over issues such as barking dogs is common. Photo supplied Auckland Council

As housing developments increase and, particularly under the stress of ongoing Covid anxiety, problems between neighbours are becoming more and more common.

Often the issues can be difficult to resolve and can make lives miserable.

Noise is often an issue. Loud cars coming and going, music and parties continuing into the small hours, barking dogs and loud building work can disturb the whole neighbourhood.

Also, animals may be coming onto your property, relieving themselves or perhaps barking at you. Even worse, neighbours may be abusive or threatening and cause us to be fearful even in our own homes.

Your first option is to approach your neighbour and see if you can come to an agreement to reduce the noise etc to agreed limits. If you are polite and reasonable, you are more likely to be able to come to an agreement. If your neighbour is a tenant, you may be able to contact the landlord, who should take some responsibility for their tenants’ behaviour.

But if you cannot resolve the problem, or you do not feel able to approach your neighbour, there are some other options available to you.

In relation to noise, the CAB website states: “In many cases, actions by neighbours that interfere with the enjoyment of your property may be contrary to local bylaws or fire regulations.

“Whether a noise is ‘excessive’ might depend on the time of day. Depending on local council policy, you might have to turn music down after 10 or 11 pm. Local council enforcement officers can issue abatement notices or excessive noise directions to control noxious elements, adverse effects on the environment or unreasonable noise. If you don’t obey the direction, the enforcement officer can come back with the police and take away the source of the noise (your stereo or other sound equipment)”.

It is a good idea to call your council’s Noise Control at the time the noise occurs, so you have evidence of excess. It is worth noting that the council will not reveal who has made the complaint.

Similarly, if you have problems with neighbours’ dogs, you can call your council’s animal control department. Local councils can require dog owners to keep their dogs under control and remove faeces left by their dogs. Dog control officers may require the owner of a persistently barking dog to curtail the nuisance or remove the dog.

Finally, if you have problems with abusive or threatening neighbours, there are legal options available to you. Trespass Orders and Restraining Orders can be made through the court where the law is being broken. CAB interviewers are able to advise you about these procedures should that become necessary.

  • This Solutions Column has been compiled by Mary and is a regular Times editorial from the Pakuranga Citizens Advice Bureau. Email enquiries.pakuranga@cab.org.nz or visit us at the Library Building, Pakuranga, Phone 576 8331 and at Botany Citizens Advice Bureau, rear Food Court Entrance, Botany Town Centre, Phone 271 5382 or 0800 367 222 for free, confidential and informative help.