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Shut up

Have a noisy neighbour who wrecks your head? Here's what you can do about it

Most of us have had one at some stage.

THE FREE LEGAL Advice Centre (Flac) has compiled a document for people who have to deal with very noisy neighbours.

In most cases, making a complaint about this is a civil matter as opposed to a criminal one and there is no need to involve gardaí.

However, Flac said this can become necessary once “noise goes beyond being an annoyance and the neighbour’s behaviour causes fear, danger, injury or loss”, in short: anti-social behaviour.

If your neighbour is behaving in an anti-social way, you can contact the gardaí who may issue a warning. If this is ignored, you can take the case to the District Court.

In privately-rented accommodation, the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) should be contacted, while help can be sought from your local authority if you live in council housing.

Here is Flac’s advice for dealing with a noisy neighbour:

  • You should first talk to your neighbour about the noise and loud music and explain how it is affecting your family – keep a note of these discussions (date, content, and so on);
  • Keep a noise diary, detailing the time, date and nature of the noise, how long it lasted and the effect it has had on you, such as an inability to sleep or difficulty doing your job due to tiredness;
  • You could obtain a report from an engineer who measures noise and sound as evidence of disturbance. This is generally strong evidence supporting a complaint, but does involve an additional cost;
  • You can write to your neighbour, setting out details of the noise and how it is affecting you. It is a good idea to suggest mediation and/or legal action if the matter cannot be resolved. Remember you should keep copies of all correspondence with your neighbour.

Any complaints of a serious, anti-social or criminal nature should be reported to the gardaí in the first instance to ensure a record is kept.

If attempts to resolve the complaint with your neighbour are unsuccessful, you may bring a case to the District Court. You are not required to have a solicitor represent you in Court – you can represent yourself. The cost of bringing this application is €22.

The judge may decide to hear a brief summary of the case and adjourn it for a period to allow the parties to enter into mediation. If this fails, the case goes back before the judge for a full hearing.

More information can be found on Flac’s website.

Annual report

Flac launched its 2014 Annual Report this morning.

It shows there has been an 81.7% increase in the number of calls the organisation has received about housing or landlord and tenant issues. There were 2,140 calls about this topic made last year.

The most frequent subject people called about was family-related legal issues (3,215 calls). There was a 20% decrease in the number of calls made about credit and debt issues (1,297 calls altogether).

flac calls Flac Flac

Speaking at the launch of the report, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald noted that a mediation bill is currently being drafted. It will introduce an obligation on solicitors and barristers to advise parties in disputes to consider utilising mediation as a means of resolving them.

Poll: Is banning swearing in public a step too far?

Column: Our world has never been louder – and noise can be dangerous

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