Ask LH: I Rent, Can I Complain About Noisy Unit-Owning Neighbours?

Dear Lifehacker, How do you deal with bad neighbours when living in a unit? We are renting but they own theirs, so can we take our grievances to the body corporate or our agent, or do we just have to grin and bear it? Thanks, Fed Up

Annoyed neighbour picture from Shutterstock

Dear FU,

Your first course of action should be to try and resolve the issue with your neighbor. While the temptation might be high to leave a complaint letter on their doorstep, this is unlikely to resolve anything and may even exacerbate the problem. Instead, try having a civil chat about the issues (without carrying a chip on your shoulder).

You really need to take the “customer service” approach here and be as personable/agreeable as possible; even if you’re seething on the inside. Most people find it hard to argue with someone who is acting friendly and reasonable. By the same token, all it takes is a slight quirk of the mouth of snarky comment to get them completely offside — once that happens you’ll never get them to see reason and will probably have made yourself an enemy to boot. You can read some tips on how best to approach a conflict and deal with difficult people here.

If your friendly platitudes fall on deaf ears, the next step is to send a politely worded letter, preferably via email. This is unlikely to change anything, but it can later be used as proof that you made a genuine effort to alert them to the situation and tried to resolve it.

You should then contact your agent, who will in turn talk to the body corporate. Just because your neighbours own their property does not entitle them to disturb the peace of nearby renters or act like appalling people. You can also give your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service a call who will advise you about the options open to you.

Have any readers ever been in a similar situation, either from the renter’s or owner’s view? Let FU know how you resolved the issue in the comments section below.


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