What to do with a nuisance neighbour?

Qué hacer con los vecinos molestos

We’ve all had a neighbour who has annoyed us at one time or other by being noisy, or because of mess, etc. A one-off event isn’t a big deal, especially if the neighbour listens to our complaints. But when these incidents happen again and again, bother more neighbours, and the neighbour causes other disturbances, it becomes necessary to take action. We’ll advise you how to take action in these cases, so that the nuisance neighbour stops being a nuisance but always with the law on your side.

Law and regulations applicable to nuisance neighbours

The first thing you should do is talk to the neighbour. Many times people aren’t aware of the disturbances they cause and, before turning to the law, you should always try to solve things verbally, in an amicable way. Nevertheless, it’s good for you to know the laws that apply in these cases.

Community statutes

Not all statutes address noise disturbances, but depending on the building they may specify times for activities involving noise or, conversely, when this is not permitted. Statutes that do so are common in buildings with holiday properties. More recent statutes tend to address these issues more frequently.

Municipal ordinances

In Spain there are no set limits for the noise that neighbours can make. Each local council sets the hours at which noise is allowed and the decibel limits. For example, it’s not the same to live in the centre

of Madrid or Barcelona, where more noise is allowed, than in a smaller town. If the issue becomes more serious, a decision may be made to put a decibel meter in the building to determine whether the noise caused by the neighbour is legal or constitutes a disturbance.

National laws

In Spain there are several laws that apply when it comes to nuisance neighbours:

  1. The Urban Rental Law: in the event that the nuisance neighbour’s property is rented, according to Article 27.2 of this law they would be in breach of the rental contract and the landlord could take action.
  2. The Horizontal Property Lawstates that those activities are “prohibited in the statutes, which are harmful to the property or that contravene the general provisions on annoying, unhealthy, harmful, dangerous, or illegal activities”. As you can see, the law here is also on your side.
  3. TheNoise Law (law 37/2003) deals with noise disturbances in this regard.
  4. We recommend you read: When are we allowed to make noise at home?

Formal complaint to the president of the community

  1. If you’ve tried to talk to your neighbour and they ignore you or you can’t reach them, the time has come to try something different. Write a letter to the neighbour through the president of the community. You can find many templates for writing such a letter online. The president will take care of sending it to the neighbour.
  2. You could write the letter, or it could be written by several neighbours if there are more people affected, or by the president of the community on your behalf.
  3. If the neighbour doesn’t listen, you’ll have to take further action.
  4. We recommend you read: How can I write a letter to the community?

Template for a formal notice to cease and desist annoying activities

  • Through such a notice, the president of the community can issue a formal complaint requesting that the neighbour cease the annoying activities. Remember that this activity must be one of those described in Article 7.2 of the Horizontal Property Law, which we mentioned above.
  • Be patient if your neighbour still ignores you. Keep in mind that all these measures serve as evidence if you later go to court.
  • Even if the president isn’t personally affected, it’s important that they sign the letter, as they have to represent the neighbours.

What is the purpose of this document?

The aim of resolving the matter with this letter is to save the costs of legal proceedings, as well as the time spent waiting and other inconveniences.

What information does the formal notice have to contain?

As mentioned above, this document must:

  • Include the formal complaint to the neighbour.
  • Include the signature of the president of the community.
  • It must be sent by reliable means that provide proof that it has been sent. In other words, it must be sent with acknowledgement of receipt by means of a notary, a registered fax, or a certificate of content.

Can I report a noisy neighbour?

Yes. You can call the police and, depending on the circumstances, they can decide whether to take the necessary noise measurements, reprimand the neighbour, etc.

How can you put an end to annoying activities?

As you can see, there are many ways to take action if a neighbour is disturbing others. To summarise…

Amicable agreement

This involves talking to the person, either in person, by telephone, over the intercom, etc. The means of communication doesn’t matter, the important thing is to reach an agreement. If it’s a special date, perhaps it would be good for you to compromise and agree on another date when you might make more noise at night.

If the neighbour complies with the letter from the president, this is also considered an amicable agreement.

File a complaint

If you’re unable to reach an agreement with your neighbour, or if your neighbour simply ignores your letter, you can file a complaint. You can do this at the time of the disturbance by calling the police.

But in repeated cases, the most effective way is to file a complaint with the local council. Check with your local council to see if they already have forms prepared for the filing of complaints. If three months have passed since you filed the report and it has not had any effect, take the next step, which is to file a civil complaint.

An alternative that we recommend before resorting to costly legal proceedings is to opt for a neighbourhood mediation service.

Go to court

To go to court, you must file a civil complaint. This should only be done if all of the above hasn’t solved the issue. But be aware that this may cost more money, as it will mean having a lawyer and being represented by a court clerk.

Through the proceedings, your case will be assessed and the judge may award you compensation.

As you can see, what you should do when faced with the problem of a nuisance neighbour is well defined by law. We know that these procedures often make people impatient, but they must be followed in order for them to really have an effect or for you to obtain the compensation you deserve.

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