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Are you fed up with nuisance neighbours?

Noisy neighbours

Loud arguing, doors slamming, TV blaring or heavy stomping? Or how about dumped rubbish, overflowing bins, untidy gardens or anti-social behaviour? Have you suffered from a nuisance neighbour?

According to our latest survey, 27% of Brits have had a problem with nuisance neighbours in the last year. Loud voices, arguing and loud music top the list of annoyances in our survey. But incidents involving drug use and police being called to properties were also cited.

The effect this can have on people is no laughing matter – 53% were left feeling angry, 42% said they felt stressed and 11% admitted to feeling afraid.

We also found that 10% resorted to getting their own back by creating annoyances for their neighbour, and 8% argued with their partner about it.

Repeat offending, the time of day and a lack of apology are factors that compound the frustrations felt by people when dealing with problematic neighbours.

Young people don’t know where to turn

Our survey also found that young people were more likely to suffer from a nuisance neighbour, with 33% of 18-24 year olds experiencing a problem in the last year, compared to just 17% for those aged 65+.

However, 86% of people aged 18-24 who experienced a problem told us they didn’t know where to go to get advice or help, compared to 44% of those aged 65+.

How to resolve neighbour disputes

When it comes to dealing with disputes, 32% of people calmly spoke to their neighbours to try and resolve the issue and 23% said they kept a record of what occurred and when. But only 22% contacted their local authority or environmental health department.

I was pretty shocked at this. Regardless of whether you rent or own your property, local authorities have a duty to investigate excessive noise, anti-social behaviour and rubbish dumping that affects local communities. They have powers to take action against people whose behaviour is unacceptable, so you need to make sure you get in touch with them. Don’t suffer in silence.

Have you had a nuisance neighbour? Was it easy to resolve the problem? Did your local authority help?


I’ve been lucky, I’ve only really had a nuisance neighbour once. Not sure what happened to sore the “relationship” but he ended up emptying the fag ends from his car onto my doorstep he even put broken matches in the front door key hole. After several months and even catching him once which he denied which was odd as he was the only person there that could have thrown a fag end at my door. I put up a CCTV camera, and oddly enough he stopped instantly. A few years later he moved to Spain, peace at last 🙂


I cannot see any link to the on-line survey carried out for Which?. Is it possible to have sight of the questions asked /raw data.?

The article does not give me sufficient information as to how the 2000 odd respondents were selected by Populus as I think the figure is unlikely high . I answer a heap load of Which? surveys and sometimes the questions are very ambiguous or seem to be not looking at the whole picture and therefore I treat survey results with caution.

Checking the Populus site I see Populus pays and Which? does not – perhaps I ought to change : )


Hi Diesel, here’s the info for you: Populus surveyed a representative sample of 2,062 UK adults online between 20-22 June 2014. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all UK adults. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. 548 people have had a problem with a noisy neighbour in the last 12 months.

Chris of Streets Alive says:
16 September 2014

Interesting though probably not preresentative survey of neighbours relations in the country as it was online which is likely to attract answers and participants who have had a problem. Could the CA please take a more positive approach to promoting neighbourliness?


I am not convinced that a survey of 2000 adults would be enough to give useful information for a county never mind the whole of the UK. It shows there is a problem but I think most of us knew about that.


Thanks Patrick for the swift response.

It was rather the questions, and how “nuisance” and “problem” are defined that are of interest. One mans nuisance ……

It is interestig that older people to suffer less, it may be a social effect and seniors are more understanding , or possible those that respond live in seaate areas. Surveys can be very interesting in construction. Look at:

” Among 18 to 24-year-olds, 33% had encountered a problem in the past year, with the figure being 17% for those aged 65 and over. ”

It says “A” problem,. So are we counting a single incident to lead to a paragraph :
” Loud arguing, doors slamming, TV blaring or heavy stomping? Or how about dumped rubbish, overflowing bins, untidy gardens or anti-social behaviour? Have you suffered from a nuisance neighbour?”

To quote a Which? Connect example the question was something like what type of road is most of you driving on? The possible andswers being Motorway, Trunk, Urban and rural I think it was.

Now the instant one sees it you think do you mean by time or by distance travelled. There was no guide as to what was meant.

Another question was as always ” Do YOU [ you as household or person not defined] buy bedding plants/seeds? ” I never buy them my wife does. Therefore the results could correctly record I do not but that incorrectly my garden never has bedding plants/ seeds bought for it.

So yes surveys are a minefield and seing the original questions and guidance to respondents makes a lot of difference to how much you believe them.


Hi all,

Thanks for your comments. It’s really important for us at Which? that our data is robust and reliable. Here’s a bit of info on our approach:

For UK wide polls, we usually survey 2000 people as this is the gold standard for public opinion polling. Statistically, we can be confident of the results of the survey to within 2% (that is the maximum margin of error at a 95% confidence interval – if you’re interested in the stats).

We also ensure that our sample is representative of all people (18+) across the UK. This means that in each geographical region we set quotas to ensure we get the right number of men, women, different age groups and socio-economic groups. After setting quotas the data is also weighted to ensure it is exactly representative of the population.

By setting quotas it ensures we do not just get people who may be likely to answer online surveys, but, in addition to this, Populus use various sampling and quality measures to ensure they survey people who don’t usually do online surveys. This means that we get all different types of people – not just people on a survey panel.

Finally, people do not know the subject of the survey before they take part and so we do not attract participants, for example, who have experienced a problem. In fact, often in the surveys, different topics are covered throughout one survey.

In terms of the questions, this survey was predominantly multiple choice questions. The two main ones were firstly a question asking people if they are now, or have in the last three years, been annoyed by their neighbours behaviour (with choices ranging from now, to in the last 12 months, to never). The second question asked what their neighbours had done in the last 12 months to annoy them (with lots of options and an open ended option available).

Our data suggests that many people have experienced problems and we want to ensure (where that is the case) that we can offer people advice about how to deal with it. Many people in our survey told us their first step was talking calmly to their neighbours to try to resolve it.

I hope that helps.

Chris of Streets Alive says:
16 September 2014

Hi that is helpful, but the questions assume that the problems which occur, as they do in all life, are not balanced by any good things happening between neighbours; the day to day helping, taking in parcels, bit of chat, looking after pets when away etc. It is only half of the story. See our http://www.agefriendlystreets.org campaign for inspiration.


Thank you Caroline for your response.

Having established the make-up the next area of interest would be the questions. Why are not all surveys available for examination after the event? As I have noted ambiguous questions can exist or a series of leading questions can elicit a response to something actually quite minor.

It seems to me rather like the ALLtrials data that unless all surveys are held for examination then dodgy ones can be choosen to back some opinions in a red-top that appeal to their readership demographic.

I am indebted to the BBC Radio Four programme “More or Less” Fridays for alerting me to general statistical dodginess that goes on. Would Which? like to support a law change were dodgy statistics end up with fines being levied. I am sure 5.1 people out of 5 would support it. : )

Actually on the same front Facebook manipulating news feeds to readers seems totally out of order so did Which? make representations?

John Ross says:
16 September 2014

There does seem to be a reluctance by owners ,leaders ,police or council to take any responsibility .If you play the non confrontational method all you get is more bully boy tactics to intimidate you and your family on an ongoing basis,but no resolution.If you go Health and safety your issues fall on deaf ears.of course the the race card will be played and everybody runs away and leaves you suffering daily with no recourse,due to a lack of willingness to get to the real causes and problems. people need to be able to live in peace and quite but no laws have made an iota of difference to the suffering of people at the hands of selfish,uncivilised people who have no regard for anybody but themselves .


Years ago, I lived in a flat, above a chap who used to play loud music late on Saturday evening. When I mentioned the problem he became much more considerate. It must be hell to have to put up with noise every day.

The only problem I have had in over 30 years in my present home has been a neighbour playing loud music on his car stereo when washing and polishing the car, sometimes twice a week in the summer months. Thankfully he has found the car wash.

I have always tried to be considerate of other people. My petrol lawnmower is noisy but I avoid using it after 7pm.


The British are a docile lot. I’ve played classical music at max volume, used power saws, drills and planes on Sunday mornings, had smelly smoky bonfires, arguments on the phone in the garden, and noisy parties. But did anyone complain? They won’t stir themselves to even have a word about their husband being ‘on nights’ or their childreen doing their homework, so what chance is there that any meaningful action will be taken by the authorities [who probably really do have far worse things to deal with]?

I am surprised nobdy has mentioned the annoyance of kids kicking a ball up against the side of the house, people who park their car outside somebody else’s house and then do a bit of therapeutic panel-beating, and those who let fireworks off on any pretext without advance warning.

With so many people living in flats, particularly converted houses, these days, troublesome neighbours are a growing problem. I believe there is a common law right to be able to have “peacable enjoyment” of one’s own home, and this is usually enshrined in lease conditions and tenancy agreements where applicable. The legal remedy for persistent violation is to obtain an injunction from the Court but that is both expensive and unpredictable. The local authority route is preferable, but as previous correspondents have said, if they take any action at all getting a satisfactory outcome is rare outside of extreme cases. Most residents stay below the parapet for fear of retribution.

Friends of ours who live in a penthouse on top of an upmarket apartment block had a problem with the rather juvenile owner of the adjacent penthouse who was decidedly anti-social in various unpleasant ways. Eventually, after involving the police and the city council, keeping copious records of incidents, giving witness statements, going through a lot of stress, and waiting a very long time, some sort of restraint was placed on the individual but it fell short of an ASBO and subsequently minor irritations and disagreeable behaviours have been the order of the day. The objectionable resident put his flat on the market but it didn’t sell, possibly because he had made it so unappealing with various hideous internal alterations and the installation of a hot-tub on the balcony.

I admit to getting particularly annoyed over unkempt front gardens even though we don’t have any near us. It seems that tenanted properties are more prone to this since absentee landlords and managing agents rarely take any action to enforce the terms and conditions that require tenants to keep the gardens tidy. Landlords also have a tendency to allow void properties to get into bad condition and many owner-occupiers are also negligent.Civic values don’t count for much these days and people who raise these issues are regarded as pompous old fools who should get a life, so we all keep stum and hope the problem goes away.