Kirsty McLuckie: Outcry at outdoor noise

As the weather warms up and bank holidays loom, we might risk venturing outside and encountering our neighbours a bit more.

Image: Flash concept/Adobe
Image: Flash concept/Adobe

But socialising, DIY or gardening in the sunshine can spark disputes if you aren’t careful.

Having a peaceful afternoon ruined by blaring music or thundering power tools is bad enough, but some activities next door can make lives truly miserable.

So can we all agree on a fixed set of rules before summer kicks off?

Website Price Your Job has brought in gardening expert Harry Bodell to put together a list of garden etiquette which should, if adhered to, avoid annoying the neighbours.

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Just as construction work should be limited to the hours of 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and end by 1pm on a Saturday, Bodell says it’s a good idea to do the same for lawn mowing – but at the weekend, make sure doesn’t start till after 10am.

I’d say this goes for chainsawing, drilling and anything else likely to ruin a lie-in too.

Trampolines can be a source of strife. Apparently, the use of the Google search term “neighbours’ trampoline” has more than doubled in the last month, and I can’t imagine it is for any positive reason.

Part of the problem can be the invasion of privacy involved in a set of eyes rhythmically hoving into view above your fenceline – better to place the trampoline away from any shared borders.

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Smoke from a barbecue is another possible nuisance, but the positioning should change with the wind direction – and if washing is

hanging on the line.

More than 650,000 homes in the UK now have a hot tub. The noise level of these can reach 67 decibels. Add the sound of chatter and they can be annoying late at night.

Agreeing to a cut-off time with neighbours – perhaps with an invitation to let them use the tub occasionally – is a good starting

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point to avoid conflict.

Family pets are another flashpoint, and a barking dog is the sort of noise pollution which could have legal

implications.

Even painting a garden fence can be a bone of contention. Changes must have the permission of the fence owner, regardless of which

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way the fence faces.

This week it was reported that a couple in Essex had lost their decade-long legal battle with neighbours, sparked by a difference of opinion over a fence and six inches of land. Philip and Denise New are now covering the costs of the dispute, estimated to stand at £30,000.

The case comes down to whether or not the boundary was moved slightly to avoid a drain when the couple replaced panels in a communal fence in 2010.

Commenting, Jonathan Rolande of the National Association of Property Buyers says it is not an isolated case, with a marked rise in neighbourly disputes over the past 12 months. Unsurprisingly, he advises against escalating hostilities unless it is absolutely necessary.

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He explains: “A dispute with a neighbour can have repercussions far beyond the legal costs. Sellers must disclose any formal dispute to a potential buyer – and few want to take on somebody else’s problem.

“My advice is therefore to try and rise above petty disputes if you can.”

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman