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Everybody needs good quiet neighbours

Noisy neighbours cartoon

There’s nothing like the ‘thud, thud, thud’ of the next-door neighbour’s music to keep you awake at night, and our research shows noisy neighbours bother most of us. So how do you get them to keep it down?

When our neighbours complained of ‘foot fall’ I thought they’d lost out on a financial investment.

Little did I know they were referring to the sound of my size-four feet echoing through the ceiling – although I imagine my boyfriend’s size 13s were more likely the cause!

Which? Legal Service published some research today suggesting five million people are currently affected by nuisance neighbours – are you? Apparently, the most common cause for complaining about neighbours is their noise.

Our research showed the top 10 irritants annoying neighbours are:

1. = Loud voices/arguing (38%)/Loud music/TV (38%)
3. Door slamming (27%)
4. Noise from pets (23%)
5. Noise from regular parties (21%)
6. People stomping around (20%)
7. People coming and going at all times of day (17%)
8. DIY noise (e.g drilling) (17%)
9. = Overgrown trees/hedges (15%)/Parking in my parking space (15%)

Shhh! The neighbours

I was nervous reading our report. In a quiet block of flats I’m pretty sure we’re the noisiest of the bunch! We don’t mean to be – we don’t party hard – we just seem to be the ones coming and going the most. And we’ve got friends and relatives with children who like nothing more than to run between rooms, ring the buzzer and jump on the furniture.

When my neighbours confronted me about our ‘foot fall’ I was a little tempted to question what on earth it is, but actually, it’s important they mentioned it. It would be a silly thing to fall out over. I had no idea they could hear us busying about above them and we’re far more careful about dashing about the flat now.

I’m very lucky to say that rarely in my life I have I been affected by noise from my neighbours. But I’ve friends who have been driven to distraction by their neighbours, a couple I know have moved house as a result.

And I regularly see posts on my friends’ Facebook status updates confirming Mr and Mrs Shoutey are at it again or looks like Mr B is in for another good night. Yes 5% of complaints about our neighbours relate to the sounds of them, er, having sex.

Resolve your dispute

So what can be done about noisy neighbours? Well, our advice is not to lose sleep over it. If you have an issue with a neighbour that you’d like some advice on, Which? Legal Service lawyers will be answering your questions on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 June. Why not resolve your nuisance neighbour issue by sending them a question?

Are your neighbours driving you to distraction? Have you got any good examples of how you resolved the issue?

What annoys you most about noisy neighbours?

Parties/loud music/TV (41%, 98 Votes)

Noise from pets (20%, 47 Votes)

Loud voices/arguing (14%, 33 Votes)

DIY noise (10%, 25 Votes)

Doors slamming (8%, 18 Votes)

People stomping around (8%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 239

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Well, I’m a drummer so you can guess what kind of experiences I’ve had with neighbours over the years! 🙂

What I’ve found is that if you give your neighbours advanced warning of when noises are going to occur, they are generally much more accepting. Also I feel that confined to certain hours of the day, noise is perfectly acceptable. I frequently hear my neighbours phone, tv, conversations, door slamming etc but I don’t care. The only time I care is when I’m trying to get to sleep, but then our flats have a rule that there is to be no loud noises between 11pm and 7am. Incidentally, I do not have my kit setup at the mo, either electric or acoustic, because I know how sound resonates through floors and irritates people. I buy my second house soon, safe in the knowledge that I WILL be able to play my acoustic drums there, happy day! 🙂

I sympathise with people that live next door to baby factories or student digs as these 2 groups of people have little or no regard for their neighbours.

One noisy neighbour I had for a few years actually had rattling old pipes that woke me up whenever they used them. Unfortunately those pipes ran right past where my head lay on the pillow, not a very nice experience at 5am! Still they moved out and the new owners actually got it sorted after a quiet word from me


I genuinely love having noisy neighbours as it means I can get away with being loud on the odd occasion. I’ve never had any problems with noise, but my neighbours have done some quite odd things which I’ve had to get sorted with them: once they ‘fixed’ the locks on the communal door because one of their keys didn’t work, and their new habit involves throwing things out of their window into my garden.

It can be so frustrating when you’re having problems with your neighbours, and it seems much harder to talk to them because you don’t want to have an argument with the people you live near. Luckily my neighbours, despite being weird and annoying, normally sort things out when I’ve had polite words.


There is a drummer living up the road from me who practices all times of year with his windows wide open: I have no objection at all and in fact I rather like it.

There are cockerels and hens in at least 3 gardens that are within 4 houses in each direction of me: I love these and have no objection at all.

However, my next door neighbour above slams everything: she slams every door hard; she slams her bin into my front fence; she slams things in the shed; she makes a huge and I’m certain unnecessary show of banging the filter out of her vacuum cleaner against the side of her bin for at least 5 minutes each time she empties the dratted thing; she tips wine bottles and glass jars into the recycling bin from a great height and then slams the bin lid. All these things are completely unnecessary noise and they annoy me greatly, BUT…..

my new(ish) neighbours below – the attached house – who are quiet in almost everything they do, do seem to do a lot of DIY that involves extended use of a hammer drill and an awful lot of dropping things that land on the floor with a sub-sonic thud which shakes my house and has recently caused china to fall off the mantlepiece.

This last type of noise is what I really can’t deal with. It is unpredictable, it is quite alarming and it’s actually causing damage to my property and possessions.

I’ve spoken to the lady once and got a very negative (though perfectly politely couched) response which made it quite clear that they have no intention of changing. There was an insincere sounding apology for the broken china, but no offer to replace or pay for it and it was accompanied by “we’ll be stopping in 10 minutes or so to put [daughter] to bed”, so she clearly doesn’t give a hoot about the effect on me.

Ironically the lady and gentleman who used to live in that house, until they both died, were hard of hearing and had the telly on loud enough for me to hear but over 25 years of living next to them that never bothered me once. Why? Because it was predictable and it didn’t have a physical effect on my belongings or home.


Many years ago I lived in a flat. The young man below was quiet six days of the week but always played loud music when he returned from the pub on a Saturday night. One afternoon I had been having an enthusiastic session with the vacuum cleaner and he commented that it sounded like a ‘herd of elephants’ when we met each other going out of the building.

The next Saturday, the loud music started as usual. I started the vacuum cleaner immediately and the music was promptly turned down. After that, my neighbour was much more considerate. In return, I always did the vacuuming when he was out.


Our legal team have published their answers to your nuisance neighbour dilemmas. Here’s how to handle a prolific BBQ’er http://www.whichlegalservice.co.uk/our-services/neighbours-q-and-a

moaner says:
18 June 2011

since moving in and having 2.5 years of “f**k off, f**k you, bang slam crunch scream” i have had my flat up for sale. in the mean time i have found that giving them a dose of what they give me has had an effect. they are now much quieter and i haven’t heard more than the “expected/normal” amount of swearing, for about six months. I had tried polite notes etc but they were too ignorant to see things from any one else’s point of view. the management company that looks after the flats are as weak as can be and told me i’d have to go to the police to get something done. i didn’t as i’m sure the police have better things to do than tell scum to shut up and behave like decent human beings.


I see both sides of the problem – I have 3 large dogs – that bark at the dratted free roaming cats that defecate in my garden – and often wail to cap it all. I have had the odd complaint that my dogs bark at their cat in MY garden. I freely admit my dogs bark at night but only at their cats in my garden

I am an avid DIYer so occasionally make noise during the day – whereas my neighbours DIY at night when I’m trying to watch TV! Once or twice is understandable – but every time during a weekday evening is not.

My neighbours often use their empty garage for overnight ‘guests’ that seem to be chronically deaf – or for parties – These parties are so loud even during the day that even with double glazing I have difficulty listening to the radio. Once they complained of my TV/Radio noise which was set so I could hear it clearly 5 feet away but not hear outside the room with the door closed – Their landlord came round – fortuitously my radio was on and he had to admit the ‘noise’ was low. I had to move bedrooms as the night noises next door disturbed my sleep.

Finally the parties next door used to be far too loud until say 4 o’clock in the morning. One day I became infuriated and went next door to complain – the noise level was so high they could not hear me knocking – ‘Luckily’ the door was open – So I went in – theatrically switched the player OFF – shouted at them to shut up and go to bed – they were astonished into silence! The party noise level has never been loud since.

Guess what – these people are students!!.

Sheila says:
18 June 2011

We had the most horrendous neighbour who became infatuated with me,he was
Jealous of my sons even drove towards my son when we were out in town,he
Made a pass at me, when I told his wife she said I wore provocative clothing.
We were unable to sit out in the garden without him making remarks and revving
His cars.The stress was making me ill, our youngest son was too stressed to stay
Alone in the house,our neighbour had banged on the door and threatened him when
We were out.Our only solution was to move,I loved that house,it was where my
Youngest was born,we cried when we left.It as left me unable to trust people the same.