Dealing with noisy neighbours

Wednesday May 9 2012

Noisy neighbours can make your life a living

Noisy neighbours can make your life a living hell.  

By Christine Katende

Noisy neighbours have always been a problem in the society, especially in areas where people live closely together. It becomes worse when you share walls, floors and ceilings with such neighbours in an apartment. It is not only under such circumstances but even in unattached homes, a noisy neighbour can make life uncomfortable and hard especially if the noise continues through out the night. This situation becomes challenging if you do not know how to deal with such people because in most cases, it is hard to chase them away from the area.

Patrick Waswa is a home owner in Kiruddu-Buziga, a city suburb, he lives next to a noisy born-again church. He says that his family has never had a moment of peace ever since the church was built in 2009. “Those people have always tuned their music too high that it becomes hard for me to concentrate on anything while at home. I have tried to physically approach the owner of this church but he keeps saying that the church is in his land. He says that he has a right to do all that pleases him provided it is within his location,” he laments.

He adds that it is not only the loud music played trans-night that inconveniences them but also the loud prayers that are conducted as if God can not hear them if they said in a silent mode.

“The last time I went to complain to the new LC chairman in my area, I was told that my neighbour is just big headed because many people have approached him over the same case but seems not bothered. He told me that it will be unfair if they sent this pastor away because the church was built on his own land and every person has freedom of worship. Now, it is like I am used to the noisy since it will never be the way I want it to be,” he asserts.

James Luyimbazzi the LC1 chairman, Bunga trading centre says that dealing with noisy neighbours is one of the problems most people face in his area. “Those are some of the cases I often receive in my office. People have always come to my office complaining as they can no longer get enough sleep because of the loud music that is played trans night by the nearby clubs, bars and shops selling music CDs,” he says.

Luyimbazzi notes that although the affected people have tried to kindly talk to the culprits, asking them to either turn down the music or not to hold parties late into the night, they just turn a deaf hear. “I have always approached these people, showed them the impacts of interfering with one’s peace but they seem unbothered, instead, they just resume the same thing a few days after talking to them,” he says.


He talks about noise made by campaigning politicians which he says have irritated people so much that they swear off which ever candidate is responsible. And then there is noise from neighbours that can really irk one. like a child whinning nonstop.

“Last week that I was forced to shout at a neighbour’s child because I couldn’t stomach the noise from him. His mother just looked on as the son disorganised our peace, but at least I managed to make him quiet. I believe the mother didn’t agree with the action though the little boy was ruining my freedom.

Luyimbazzi believes it is the environment ministry to intervene in such situations. He believes that it is through the ministry that such people can be punished by law. “Let the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) enforce the law because without them, people will stay in agony with those who think that they are making money,” he says. “I believe such people can get a suitable punishment for their acts. By law, the authorities have a duty to deal with any noise that they consider as a statutory nuisance,” he adds.

He advises that the affected persons write letters to their LC chairpersons so that the cases can are forwarded to law enforcement organisations. He adds that it from that level, that a culprit will be punished accordingly.
He suggests some ways one can take, to work out the problem of noise in the neighbourhood.

What to do
Always try and get a friendly way of solving the problem with the neighbour before involving in the local authority. It is because the neighbour might be green of whether s/he is causing trouble or not.

Hopefully, pointing this out to your neighbour may solve the problem and ultimately prevent it from spiraling even more out of control. Your neighbour could feel extremely guilty about their noise making and genuinely not have realised what they were doing has been causing you disturbance. Fingers crossed this works, it is one of the best solutions in theory.

Plan what you need to say first, have some written notes and examples of their noise nuisances with you when you call on your neighbour so you don’t forget what you want to say. You could be a bit nervous about approaching them, especially if they are unknown to you, are new to the neighbourhood, or you have had little prior contact with them, so prepare and be as confident as you can.

Try to avoid going round to your neighbour to complain about the noise when it’s actually happening. Chances are if someone has been drinking or partying heavily, they are not going to want to talk to you. You may be seen by your neighbour as simply trying to stop their enjoyment, when in reality that certainly is not the case. So go around when you know they are home, when it is quiet and always plan your approach beforehand.

If you think that the neighbour has failed to change after all the reasonable steps that have been taken, contact the environmental health department in your area for consultation.

Report the case to the local authority before thinking of an attack because it might cost your life. It is the local authorities that will mediate between yourself and the noisy neighbour.

Take the case to court after getting a letter from a nearby police station so that the neighbour can be punished by the law.

How much is too loud? Common noise levels

Noise is measured in units called decibels, on a scale from zero to 140. The higher the number in decibels, the louder the noise. The louder the noise, the greater the risk of hearing loss. Hearing loss can occur with regular exposure to noise levels of 110 decibels or more for periods longer than one minute. No more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure to 100 decibels is recommended. Long-term exposure to 80-85 decibels or over can cause hearing loss.