Be a good neighbour

During the Covid-19 pandemic the council has seen an increase in neighbour disputes being reported. We ask everyone to be considerate, tolerant and understanding of others and their different lifestyles, to help us build safer and stronger communities.

The guidance below provides advice on how to be a good neighbour, how to approach your neighbours to prevent problems from arising or escalating and pro-actively resolve problems together. 

Different lifestyles and one-off incidents

Often people do not realise they may be disturbing others. One-off incidents may be annoying, such as a loud party, but if they are not frequent then you should try to tolerate it. If they occur on a more regular basis, and the disturbance causes you a problem, it is often a matter of making your neighbour aware in a friendly manner and seeking to work out a solution together.

We encourage residents to try to resolve matters themselves. Involving the council before talking to your neighbours may lead to hostile reactions and make matters worse.

What you can do if your neighbour is causing problems

We recommend talking to your neighbour as soon as possible about anything they are doing that's affecting you. This is often the quickest and easiest solution.

Some tips on approaching your neighbour:

  • Choose a time that's convenient for everyone
  • Plan what you are going to say
  • Be polite and explain the problem and how it’s affecting you
  • Listen to what they have to say
  • Be understanding of different ways of life
  • Be open to suggestions
  • Come to an agreement that suits everyone.

Do not:

  • Approach your neighbour if you don't feel safe
  • Go around when you feel angry or upset
  • Be argumentative or use threatening behaviour/language.
  • If you feel you cannot approach your neighbour yourself, consider whether you have a friend or relative who could act on your behalf.

Alternatively, you could write them a friendly letter, to highlight the issues you are concerned about.

Tips on how to be a good neighbour

Noise

  • As part of everyday living, we all must expect some noise from the people living around us. Common everyday living noise includes TVs and stereos, DIY, dogs barking, intruder or car alarms, slamming doors or simply walking around the property
  • Recognise that your neighbours do not want to hear noise from your home, particularly late at night, or for long periods
  • Keep noise at a reasonable level at all times e.g. from the TV, stereo, radio
  • Noise carries through walls, floors and doors. Laminate flooring (particularly in flats), and other hard surfaces, can amplify noise. To help reduce it, put down rugs and fit felt or rubber pads to movable furniture
  • Warn your neighbours if you are going to do anything noisy like having a party or doing DIY
  • Co-operate with your neighbours if they ask you to reduce noise. For example, you can position your TV or stereo away from the walls you share with your neighbours.

Being a responsible dog owner

  • Dogs are great companions but make sure they don't whine or bark for long periods of time
  • You must always have a means of picking up after your dog (usually a dog bag) whilst out for a walk
  • If your dog fouls in a public space, you must clean it up
  • Always keep your dog under control e.g. use a lead when walking the dog
  • Get your dog micro-chipped so it can be traced back to you if it ever goes missing.

Dog control orders are in place across North Somerset. If you are a dog owner, it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with the local dog control orders. Dog Control Orders

Gardens and communal areas

  • Do not block communal areas with prams, bicycles or other personal belongings
  • Do not allow your garden to become overgrown and unkempt. Keeping it tidy and free of rubbish helps improve the look of the area. Where gardens look neglected, they can sometimes encourage fly-tipping
  • If you share a communal door, make sure it’s always kept closed and you don’t let anyone in that you don’t know. This way everyone’s homes are kept secure
  • If you have a problem with a neighbours high hedge, you must try and resolve the issue with your neighbour first before contacting the council. If talking with your neighbour hasn’t worked, you can report high hedges here.
  • If your neighbour’s tree hangs over your property and it bothers you, in the first instance, we encourage you to ask them to trim it back. You do have the right to trim the tree back to your boundary line, but you must offer the trimmings back to your neighbour.

Before cutting the tree, you should check with the council to see if the tree is subject to a tree preservation order – if it is, you could be fined for cutting it.  View the council's Protected trees page

Bins

  • Recycle as much as possible to reduce the amount of waste in your black wheelie bin. Visit the council's recycling and waste page for more information
  • Always make sure you use your own bins. We suggest marking your bin with your house name/number to reduce the likelihood of your bins going missing.
  • Make sure you put your bin out for collection no earlier than the night before your collection and always bring it back in after collection. Please present your bins in a secure tidy manner to prevent obstructing footpaths
  • Ensure all waste is contained within your bin and the lid is fully closed.  This will prevent waste littering the local area
  • If you have a communal bin area, dispose of your rubbish correctly in the bins, and make sure the area around the bins is kept tidy.
  • Ensure you are parked considerately, especially on collection days to avoid obstructing Waste and Recycling lorries. Every year, inconsiderate parking is responsible for hundreds of missed collections and enforcement action may be taken against you.

Bonfires

  • Tell your neighbours that you are going to have a bonfire
  • Do not light a bonfire if your neighbour, is using their garden, has washing out or has their windows open
  • Wait for the right weather conditions before lighting a fire
  • Do not light the bonfire close to your neighbours’ property to prevent the risk of the fire spreading
  • Only burn easily combustible clean material, avoid burning anything that can release fumes or smells that can cause problems for anyone with a medical condition that effects their breathing such as asthma.
  • Instead of having a bonfire you could consider using the local household waste recycling centre or composting your garden waste.
  • Having frequent bonfires could be causing a ‘statutory nuisance’ and we have the power to issue ‘abatement notices’ to stop them happening - see our bonfires page.

Parking

  • Park considerately taking into account access to other properties and roads
  • Recognise that you don’t have the right to park outside your home. Anyone can park on a public road if they adhere to any restrictions imposed by way of signs and markings and are not causing an obstruction
  • Avoid blocking entrances, dropped kerbs, garages or pavements.
  • Don’t cause obstruction to emergency service vehicles

Children playing

  • Be tolerant of children playing outside – North Somerset Council actively encourages children to be fit and active
  • If you’re a parent, consider how the noise of your children playing outside may affect your neighbours. Consider if there’s a safer place to play such as a park or skateboard area
  • If a child accidentally throws or kicks a ball into your property, you should either hand it back or allow it to be collected
  • If children harass, intimidate or disturb others then complaints are justified, and parents must respond reasonably.