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WHEN TO CALL THE COPS ON YOUR NEIGHBOURS

Dealing with neighbour disputes is an unavoidable part of life unless, perhaps, you choose to live on a remote small holding for the rest of your life. Sometimes these issues cannot be resolved no matter how diplomatic, polite and reasonable you might have been when approaching the issue. Luckily, the law is there to help you during these times.

Below are the legal grounds on which you may approach authorities to assist with neighbour disputes:

Boundary Issues
Legally, the boundary wall belongs to both neighbours. However, whatever falls to either side of it belongs to the neighbour who owns that property. If your neighbour builds a structure or plants a tree that encroaches onto your property, you are allowed to lay a formal complaint against him/her. This does not, however, include things like shadows or buildings that block your view.

Noise Complaints
These fall under two categories: ‘Disturbing Noise' and 'Noise Nuisance'. The former refers to objectively loud noises. Things like late-night parties usually fall under this classification. The latter refers to subjective noises that disrupt the ongoing peace of an individual. Things like the non-stop barking of a neighbour’s dog is a perfect example of things that fall under this category. Both of these categories are illegal behaviours and perpetrators can be fined or even arrested for continuing with these actions at any point during the day.

Ways Authorities May Intervene
In many cases, just one warning call or notice from a local police station is enough to set a neighbour straight. But, if they choose to ignore the warning, then you may request that your local authority issue them with a fine. As an absolute last resort, you may bring the issue to your nearest court where you can apply for an interdict to prevent your neighbour from continuing the offending behaviour. You may also sue your neighbour for damages that may have resulted from their offense. In these cases, however, you will be required to provide evidence that the matter is something that any reasonable person would find intolerable to live with and that it is having a seriously negative effect on the enjoyment of their property.


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