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Neighbour noise and abusive behaviour

This advice applies to Scotland

If you're having a dispute with your neighbour about noise or they're being abusive, you can:  

  • approach your neighbour only if you feel safe to do so
  • talk to their landlord if your neighbour is a tenant
  • get help from a mediation service
  • contact your local authority
  • get in touch with your local councillor or MSP
  • call the police if your neighbour is breaking the law
  • take court action.

Find out more about resolving neighbour disputes.

If your neighbour is making too much noise

If your neighbour is making too much noise for example, loud music or barking dogs - there are steps you can take. If you feel comfortable, try and resolve the problem by speaking to your neighbour first. You should explain to them how the noise is affecting you. You should then ask them to reduce the noise (permanently or at certain times of the day). If the noise isn’t reduced and your neighbour is a tenant, it may be worth contacting their landlord.

If the problem continues it’s helpful for you to keep a record/diary of the frequency and type of disturbance, which can be used as evidence in any future action.

If an informal approach is unsuccessful, you can take further action including contacting your local authority, usually the environmental health department. They may be able to ensure that noise is reduced by visiting the neighbour. For example, they may persuade neighbours to go downstairs and listen to the noise and vibration caused by their washing machine in the flat below. Your neighbour may then agree not to run the washing machine at night. Find contact details for your local authority on mygov.scot.

Getting a noise notice served on your neighbour

If the local authority officer thinks that a noise problem exists, a notice may be served on the neighbour. This notice will mean that they will be required to stop the noise. If they still don’t stop the noise, they may then be issued with a fixed penalty notice.

Contacting the police about neighbour noise

The police also have specific powers to deal with excessive noise. They may be able to issue fines to people who have failed to stop making excessive noise after being asked to do so or they may confiscate sound producing equipment.

If there’s too much noise on the street

Loudspeakers (except those used by the police, fire and ambulance services) shouldn’t be used in the street at night. Ice cream and grocery vans can use chimes or bells between noon and 7pm.

You should complain about noise from loudspeakers or chimes to the police by calling 101 or to the environmental health department of your local authority. Find contact details for your local council on mygov.scot.

If you’re concerned about CCTV or drones

If you have concerns about how CCTV or drones are being used by a neighbour or your landlord, there is information on the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) website.

If your neighbour is being abusive

If your neighbour is physically violent or verbally abusive or behaves in a dangerous way towards you, you should call the police.

In some cases, abusive behaviour may be part of a pattern of antisocial behaviour.

If your neighbour is abusive because of your race, religion or identity

If you’ve been harassed or attacked because of your race, religion, identity or disability, the person who attacked or abused you may have committed an offence. Some abuse from your neighbours may be classed as hate crime or discrimination. This is against the law.  

Attacks can include verbal abuse or threats and abusive slogans painted on a wall or building.

If your neighbours are discriminating against you, you can:

  • report antisocial behaviour - find out what antisocial behaviour covers
  • report them to your local authority - they may be able to help even if your neighbours are not local authority tenants
  • report them to the police - if you're being harassed or victimised
  • take them to court - if you're being harassed or victimised.

There is specific action you can take when a housing problem is classed as discrimination.

If your neighbour is spreading rumours

If your neighbour is spreading rumours about you, you should consider what outcome you want. For example, taking action might bring more attention to the rumours in some cases, but tolerating the rumours can mean they become less frequent or disappear altogether.

If you want to take action, you could approach your neighbour if you feel comfortable and explain how the rumours are affecting you. A mediator may also be able to help you both reach an agreement.

If speaking to your neighbour doesn’t work, you could apply to court for an interdict. This is a court order to prevent your neighbour making negative and defamatory statements about you. However, it may be difficult to prove what the neighbour has said or done and court action can be expensive.

If your neighbour has medical or psychological problems

If your neighbour has medical or psychological problems, this may affect their behaviour towards you and others.

If the neighbour has a regular visitor, such as another member of the family, a social worker, health visitor or doctor, you could talk to them. If you feel comfortable, you should explain how their behaviour is affecting you. They may be able to help you find a resolution.

Further help

You can get help from an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

More about neighbour disputes

How to resolve a neighbour dispute
Antisocial behaviour
Boundary and garden disputes
Disputes about damages and repairs
Problems with a business in your street 

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