neighbour disputes

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  • July 2015


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  • In this leaflet we are going to look at stepsyou can take if you find yourself living nextdoor to a noisy neighbour or a neighbourwho behaves in an anti-social manner.

    In most cases, making a complaint about anoisy neighbour is a civil matter as opposed toa criminal matter and there is no need for theinvolvement of the Garda. However, if thenoise goes beyond being an annoyance andthe neighbours behaviour causes fear, danger,injury or loss, then it becomes anti-socialbehaviour. There are a wider range ofremedies available if this is the case. What youcan do to stop anti-social behaviour dependson whether your neighbour owns his or herown home, is a tenant under the ResidentialTenancies Act 2004 or is living in LocalAuthority Housing. In all of these cases, it isthe responsibility of the person making thecomplaint to seek help and to resolve thematter before resorting to a formal process. Insome cases, you will be asked to prove thatyou have done this, so keep a record of anyengagement with neighbours or landlordswith this in mind.

    First we will look at noise as a nuisance.

    When does noise become a nuisance?

    Noise that is loud, socontinuous, so repeated, of suchduration or pitch or occurring atsuch times as to give reasonablecause for annoyance... can beclassified as nuisance and you


    S108 ofEnvironmentalProtectionAgency Act1992

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    have a right to complain. There are nomaximum noise levels set out in legislation inIreland.

    A general note regarding criminal actions:

    In some situations, matters may escalatebetween neighbours such that you feel that acriminal sanction is needed, whereby youspeak to the Garda. In this case, threedifferent laws may apply. However, youshould consider carefully before taking thisroute and we lay out other options for specificcircumstances in this leaflet.

    l Under Section 10 of Non Fatal OffencesAgainst the Person Act 1997, any personwho harasses another by persistentlyfollowing watching, pestering, besettingor communicating with him or her shall beguilty of an offence.

    l Under Sections 5 and 6 of the CriminalJustice (Public Order) Act 1994, peoplewho are making noise out on the publicroadway between midnight and 7am, or atany other time after having been asked tostop by a Garda, may be guilty of anoffence. It can also be an offence for aperson in a public place to use threateningor abusive words with intent to provoke abreach of the peace.

    l Sections 113, 114 and 115 of the CriminalJustice Act 2006 covers Anti-SocialBehaviour Order (see details below).

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    What can I do if I have noisy neighbours?

    If you are suffering distress from living nextdoor to people who make noise, play loudmusic or have regular parties, there arecertain steps you can take:

    1 You should first talk to your neighbourabout the noise and loud music andexplain how it is affecting your family keep a note of these discussions (date,content, and so on).

    2 Keep a noise diary, detailing the time, dateand nature of the noise, how long it lastedand the effect it has had on you, such asan inability to sleep or difficulty doingyour job due to tiredness.

    3 You could obtain a report from anengineer who measures noise and sound asevidence of disturbance. This is generallystrong evidence supporting a complaint,but does involve an additional cost.

    4 You can write to your neighbour, settingout details of the noise and how it isaffecting you. It is a good idea to suggestmediation and/or legal action if the mattercannot be resolved remember you shouldkeep copies of all correspondence withyour neighbour.

    5 Any complaints of a serious, anti-social orcriminal nature should be reported to theGarda in the first instance to ensure arecord is kept.


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  • What should I do if the noise continues?

    If attempts to resolve thecomplaint with your neighbourare unsuccessful, you may bring acase to the District Court under.This is done by going to theDistrict Court Office and advisingthe Clerk that you wish to make a complaintin relation to noise. The Clerk will provide youwith a form called a Notice of Intention tomake a Complaint.

    You are not required to have a solicitor rep -resent you in Court you can represent your -self. The cost of bringing this application is 22.

    You will then have to serve your neighbourwith a copy of the Notice of Intention tomake the Complaint at least seven daysbefore the court date. The Notice must beserved by you on your neighbour eitherpersonally or by registered post. You also haveto complete a Statutory Declaration of Service(of the Notice) and return it to the DistrictCourt at least four days prior to the courtdate. A Statutory Declaration of Service is astatement sworn before a PeaceCommissioner, Commissioner for Oaths orSolicitor setting out how the Notice wasserved whether it was served by registeredpost or personal service.

    What is the first thing that happens incourt?

    The judge may decide to hear a brief summaryof the case and adjourn (postpone) it for a


    neighbour disputes

    Section 108 of theEnvironmentalProtectionAgency Act1992

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  • period to allow the parties to enter intomediation in an attempt to resolve the matter.

    What is mediation?

    In mediation, an impartial third person (themediator) manages negotiations between theparties in a neutral way. The aim is to help thepeople involved in a dispute to reach anagreement that is acceptable to both sides.The mediator acts as a "go-between" to helpre-open channels of communication andbroker agreement. Mediation can be a time-saving and cost-effective alternative to legalaction. Ballymun Community Law Centre (Tel:01 862 5805) provides a mediation service forpeople living in the Ballymun area.Community Law and Mediation, based inNorthside Civic Centre, (tel: 01 848 2988)provides a mediation service which is availableto people countrywide as well as a branch inLimerick city (Tel: 061 536 100). You can alsoavail of private mediation services where youpay by the hour.

    What happens if mediation fails?

    If mediation fails, the case goes back beforethe judge for a full hearing.

    What is required for the court hearing?

    l You will need to give a detaileddescription of the noise this is whykeeping an accurate noise diary is soimportant.

    l You should be able to give details of allcommunications with your neighbourregarding the noise. You should have a


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    copy of any letters you sent yourneighbour explaining how the noise hasaffected you, as well as a note of anyverbal discussions.

    l If you have one, you should provide a copyof the engineers report or have theengineer attend court to give evidence.

    What will the court do?

    The judge will hear both sides of the case,along with any professional witnesses, such asthe engineer. If the judge finds in your favour,he/she can order your neighbour to reducethe noise to a specified level, to limit it tospecified times or to stop it altogether.

    What happens if my neighbour ignores thecourt order and continues with the noise?

    Any person who does not obey the CourtOrder is guilty of an offence. However aprivate citizen cannot bring a case before thecourts that may result in a criminal sanctionon a fellow citizen. The criminal prosecutionwill need to be brought by the EnvironmentProtection Agency. If the problem iscontinuing for you, you should contact yourlocal authority.

    Noisy Commercial Premises

    I live near a very noisy commercial premi -ses or construction site what can I do?

    l You should first contact the personresponsible for the noise and explain howthe noise is affecting you. You can contactyour Local Authority, it may consider

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    serving a notice for the prevention orlimitation of the noise coming from theindustrial or commercial sources. You couldalso talk to other residents in the area tosee if they have similar concerns andwhether they want to join in thecomplaint.

    l Contact the EnvironmentalProtection Agency if alicence is required for theactivity, the Agency canrequire the noise-makers totake specific measures to prevent or limitthe noise.

    l You should check the Planning Register bygoing to the Planning Section of your LocalAuthority. The law provides that a PlanningAuthority may attach specific conditions inrespect of noise to the planning permissionfor a development. The conditions mayinclude restrictions on the times whenconstruction work can be done.

    l You can also make a formal complaint tothe District Court under the EnvironmentalProtection Agency Act (see page 5).

    I am living next door to a noisy pub andthere is noise and drunken behaviourfrom its customers out on the street.What steps can I take?

    l Talk to the pub owner about how thenoise is affecting you and keep a record ofconversations between you and the pubowner.

    Section 34,Planning &DevelopmentAct 2000

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  • l Keep a noise diary.

    l Write to th