How to Deal with Pesky Neighbours
Sometimes neighbours can be downright difficult. Here is what you can do.
Summer brings about a whole bunch of wonderful things including hiking, beach days, pool days and of course the favourite South African past-time, braais. But, when you’re living in close quarters with neighbours – be that apartments or residential complexes with freestanding houses, there are sometimes days or incidents where they can drive you nuts.
We all try to be pleasant and law-abiding citizens. Most complexes have rules and regulations steered by their Home Owners Association, and freehold houses are generally governed by local government by-laws, but there are still instances where your neighbours (or perhaps even yourself), have transgressed.
Most neighbours promote good neighbourly relations and can work through differences amicably, but there may be times when you are faced with situations which may call for more formal action. Neighbour Law in South Africa is extremely broad due to the scope of the disputes that can occur and in serious instances, your best option is to seek legal advice. Ideally one would like to first find a way to try and resolve these issues with the neighbour directly – but your local government has information and guidelines at hand to help you deal with various issues.
Noise Complaints are Amongst the Most Common Issues
- The Late Night Party – we’ve all had that neighbour. Unless your complex rules state otherwise, “party noise” is generally tolerated until 10 pm. If this happens frequently, or they just don’t turn it down after asking (nicely) – you could contact your local Law Enforcement, or if you live in a security estate with guards – they usually can be asked to try and implore neighbours in a more formal capacity – plus, you could remain anonymous. If it is a repetitive situation, lay a case or consult with your lawyer for more serious legal action.
- The Pool Party – repetitive splashing & screaming is usually only nice for the one doing it. If you have good relations with your neighbours, ask if you can join in 🙂
- Dogs Barking – always a sensitive topic, especially if this happens for longer than 7 minutes and continues throughout the day. If your neighbours are not home, try to first approach them and ask if they are aware that this is happening. Try to suggest canine enrichment to keep their pup occupied during the day, and less inclined to bark. This is actually quite distressing to the animal too, so it is best that the owner deals with this in a constructive way. If they are unwilling, more formal actions may be taken with local law enforcement and usually also the local SPCA.
- Builders & Construction – embarking on a new addition on your home, or removing an entire section and rebuilding is not fun for anyone, and if your own property, you probably want to get this done quickly. Again most complexes have rules around times and days construction is allowed, and local by-laws are also applicable. Some neighbours push this too far unfortunately and build over weekends and past 5 pm – making home life for other neighbours rather unpleasant. In instances such as these, you can contact your Home Owners Association representative, or local municipality for assistance should your request to respect these hours fall on deaf ears.
And although not quite noise pollution, another biggie is Boundary Walls and fences – which are either built too close to your property or a question of who pays for maintenance and repair? The answer is it is a joint responsibility. As well as foliage growth from neighbours into your yard. Encroaching branches, tree trunks or roots causing structural damage are the responsibility of the neighbour where the tree stands. Although entitled to cut branches encroaching into your property, it is advisable to first seek legal advice before taking any drastic action.
Local Government Directories:
It is said one of the best ways of avoiding any negative or unpleasant situations is to get to know your neighbours better.