Advice: Mediators can offer help with neighbour disputes

Pat Hutchinson MBE.
Pat Hutchinson MBE.
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By Pat Hutchinson, District Manager, Newtownabbey CAB

Q: My neighbours have started to have parties every night of the week. I have a young child who is being kept awake by the noise. What options do I have to get them to stop this?

A: Initially try talking to your neighbour causing the disturbance and ask them to reduce the noise. If it seems that one or both parties will be unable to negotiate amicably via discussion, it may be advisable to put your concerns in writing.

If an initial approach to the neighbour has failed, there may be local mediators who are able to help.

Mediation Northern Ireland is free and confidential. It can put neighbours in touch with a trained mediator in their area.

The mediator’s role is to encourage each party to talk freely, explain their point of view, find common ground and come up with an agreed way forward.

The contact details of Mediation Northern Ireland are: 83 University Street, Belfast, BT7 1HP. Call 028 9043 8614, email info@mediationnorthernireland.org or visit www.mediationnorthernireland.org

The Housing Executive also offers a mediation service for any tenant, or anyone affected by the behaviour of a Housing Executive tenant or household. For more information contact the Community Safety Team on 028 9031 8224.

If the noise is not reduced and your neighbour is a tenant, it may be worth contacting your neighbour’s landlord. If the problem persists it is useful to keep a record/diary of the disturbances which can be used as evidence in any future action.

Local councils have extensive powers to deal with noise nuisances. You can ask the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to investigate the noise.

If the EHO considers there is a noise nuisance and has been unable to resolve the matter by discussion, the authority can then serve a notice on the person causing the noise, or on the owner or occupier of the property. If the person causing the noise does not comply with the notice, the local authority can prosecute them.

• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau – go to www.adviceguide.org.uk or call at: Newtownabbey Citizens Advice Bureau, Dunanney Centre, Rathmullan Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, BT37 9DQ. Telephone advice is available 9am – 4pm each day on 028 90852271 (Lunch 1:00 - 1:30pm); email advice is available by contacting enewtownabbey@citizensadvice.co.uk