Disputes with Neighbours

Tanglewood-Hillsdale Community Association’s Neighbourhood Watch [1 ] reminds current and new residents that we live is a cohesive neighbourhood of townhouses, semi-detached, single homes, an apartment building and almost forty businesses. Although residents typically respect one another’s and business property and privacy rights, disagreements may arise.
The most frequent complaint between neighbours is Noise – loud talking, TV/radio volume, musical instruments or recordings, operation of tools/equipment or squealing tires. Neighbours are most disturbed by noise between 11:00 pm, and 7:00 am on weekdays; 9:00 am on Saturdays and 12:00 noon on Sundays. Ottawa regulates noise through its Noise By-Law.
Self awareness:
• Review your own behavior. Observe reasonable hours for noisy activities. Don’t place sound making equipment against shared walls.
• Restrict these activities to daylight hours or in accordance with the lease or condominium agreement.
• Although you may be accustomed to the noise children make, your family should be aware that some residents may not have children or may be irritated by the noise. However, all neighbours must understand that children have a right to live here and to behave like children.
• If hosting a party, advise neighbours about when the party will take place, and consider inviting them if it will be an open party.
• Get to know your neighbours. Invite them over for a barbeque or
go over with your shovel or snow-blower after a big snowfall. Perhaps you could offer expertise on a project you know is being started. Check in on the elderly couple living across the street or next door. Contact may lead to cooperation on potential issues.
Should an issue arise:
• Don’t react immediately. Let the matter rest before you approach your neighbour. You may decide it is not worth pursuing, especially if the problem is not ongoing.
• In-person meetings are more effective, as long as the situation is safe.
• Speak with your neighbour when you are both sober. Speak reasonably and calmly. However, situations can escalate quickly.
• Your neighbour may be defensive. Plan for it, and respond with empathy. There is a good chance that reason will lead to a workable solution.
• Keep an open mind before and during your discussion. Figure out in advance exactly what it is bothering you, what you want the outcome to be, and how to motivate your neighbour to work with you toward this solution.
• If your face-to-face meeting does not work, explain the matter in writing. If possible, refer to the City by-law that supports your argument.
• Speak with other neighbours and consider a joint strategy. Ask others who are also bothered to discuss the matter with the offending neighbour.
• If it’s a problem continues ask neighbours to sign a letter. Your neighbour may be willing to work with you if he sees the problem is bigger than just you.
• Work with a mediator, if you need to have an objective third party help you find a resolution. Many mediators are volunteers.
• Consider speaking with bylaw enforcement. Should you be concerned about domestic violence, advise the police.
[1] Material for this factsheet was adapted from the websites of Central Mortgage and Housing, Neighbourhood Watch, Ottawa Police and Crime Prevention Ottawa.