Noise spoils happy neigh­bour­hood

Ex­ces­sive noise is a com­mon dis­pute be­tween Kiwi neigh­bours, writes

North Harbour News - - HEALTH & BEAUTY -

A few months ago, my fam­ily moved into a new neigh­bour­hood. As we set­tled down for our first night in a new bed­room, omi­nous­sound­ing doof-doof sounds be­gan to em­anate from the house next door. My hus­band and I groaned. We’d co­in­cided our move with both a big All Blacks game and our new neigh­bour’s birth­day (a fact we dis­cov­ered when the party at­ten­dees sang their well wishes at 12.04am).

A happy and healthy neigh­bour­hood is fre­quently char­ac­terised by the sound of birds tweet­ing, chil­dren laugh­ing, lawn­mow­ers hum­ming and spades thump­ing. But when the lines be­tween ‘‘just do­ing life’’ and ‘‘an­noy­ing their neigh­bours’’ are blurred, that happy and healthy neigh­bour­hood can quickly be­come the op­po­site.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween noise and neigh­bours ul­ti­mately comes down to un­der­stand­ing that other peo­ple might think dif­fer­ently to you. You might pre­fer easy lis­ten­ing mu­sic on vol­ume level 4, while your neigh­bour might pre­fer death metal at level 14. The boy racer from down the road’s souped-up Subaru might have a much grun­tier en­gine than your sub­tle Mazda Demio. And your spritely neigh­bour who reg­u­larly mows his lawns at 8.45pm might just not have any other time in his day to do them.

What’s your first op­tion , then, if your ears suf­fer at the hands of a noisy neigh­bour? Be­fore you do any­thing else, try talk­ing to the neigh­bour con­cerned. If the time they mow their lawns or the vol­ume of their mu­sic both­ers you, you may be able to come to an agree­ment that suits both par­ties. If you’d rather not have a face-to-face con­ver­sa­tion, drop a note in their let­ter­box or send them a pri­vate mes­sage via Neigh­bourly in­stead.

If try­ing to solve the prob­lem your­self doesn’t work, your next op­tion is your lo­cal coun­cil. They will send a noise con­trol of­fi­cer to the ad­dress to de­cide if the noise is ‘‘ex­ces­sive’’ or ‘‘un­rea­son­able’’. If it is, they can take fur­ther ac­tions like is­su­ing an Ex­ces­sive Noise Di­rec­tion (which or­ders the per­son re­spon­si­ble for the noise to re­duce it to a rea­son­able level for up to 72 hours), or even con­fis­cat­ing the source of the noise like a stereo. (It’s worth not­ing here that if you make a noise com­plaint to the coun­cil, they will not tell your neigh­bour it was you.)

For com­plaints about on­go­ing noise or noise that can’t be re­duced im­me­di­ately, the coun­cil can is­sue an Abate­ment No­tice which gives the noise-maker a dead­line for stop­ping or re­duc­ing the noise. If your neigh­bour ig­nores what the coun­cil or­ders, you can ap­ply for an En­force­ment Or­der through the En­vi­ron­ment Court, al­though this can be an ex­pen­sive op­tion.

Ul­ti­mately, it’s up to res­i­dents to do unto neigh­bours as they’d have them do unto them. If we all be­come the kind of neigh­bour we’d like to live next to, our neigh­bour­hoods would al­ways be happy and healthy.


Lawns be­ing reg­u­larly mowed at an in­op­por­tune time can leave neigh­bours feel­ing dis­grun­tled.

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