Sunday, 28 October 2007

Noisy neighbours from the hellish side?

One of the many problems with London; which scores so highly on the many 'things you hate most about your city' surveys is, that hardy annual: Neighbouritis. Yes a made up nonce word of Neighbour (British spelling) and courtesy of old Grecian – a time when men were men and up for doing it - 'itis', but better than saying Neighbour-from-hell- who-drives-your- grandmother-to-an-early-grave!

Unless you live in a nice secluded area, i.e. wealthy and rich, then it's more than likely you will have come up against the perennial problem of Neighbour-noise-ism! Yes how many times have you felt like killing your fellow neighbour or at least hoping they get run over by the number 36 bus as it hurtles its way down the High Street, just because the bass sound on their latest purchased - although nowadays downloaded or streamed - techno track, or they have somehow taken with a strange but firm grasp some twisted bit of logic that they should be the ones on X-Factor and not the current crop of munters, is driving you insane.

All those greedy sods who turned old houses into nasty noise traps, that governments really didn't bother doing anything about to legally ensure people didn't get on each others nerves, are now long gone and dead. But, hopefully, their off-spring are living under the same tortuous circumstances as the rest of us.

Most of the old properties had wall-to-wall carpet covered flooring, which when based on a family of six plus, living over three floors was fine. But then the prospectors moved in and converted said three storey houses into at least six small poky flats, sometimes, even more. If living in London and on, or below the poverty line, there is a 90% probability during your moving life, that you will be subject – especially if living below someone else – to unacceptable noise levels and at logger-heads over the best courses of action to take.

Sometimes this will be nothing more than the pair of you just turning up the noise. Sadly it will be to such levels, that neither of you will be able to think properly, let alone properly hear what you're listening to or what the other is listening to.

But that feeling of satisfaction will be wonderful, if short lived. Both of you will feel wonderful thinking that you've pissed the other off, not realising that it's only really your hearing that's been damaged. But you exchange pleasantries when briefly meeting, saying all's well with the world, secretly wondering why the other doesn't have a life threatening allergy to peanuts, so you can offer a peanut tainted cup at the next village jamboree.

And life goes on, for days on end it's nice and quiet – as they have gone away on holiday without telling you! Sometimes you just have to sit there spending the hours idly, playing with the volume button. On other occasions you just decide to go out for a walk or just to meet friends, eventually returning home slightly the worse for alcohol, put the stereo on and wake up in the morning with music blasting out and a sour note pushed through the letter box expressing extreme displeasure, bordering contempt.

Looking into the anti-social noise laws, including that of leases, most have some provision with regard for this, yet hardly anything seems to be done about it. Environmental health will only do something after 22:30hrs! Leases say noise – likely to disrupt fellow neighbours - should cease after 23:00hrs, and before then, that people should have consideration for their fellow flat dwellers.

Sadly even when letters are sent out reminding inhabitants of their contractual obligations, scant notice is given to them and things go on as usual.

So what recourse is there available to those under noise-siege? At this moment in time, it's a long hard slog through, ineffective management companies, useless housing associations, non-caring councils, solicitors, lawyers, courts etc. Which if you want a really quick result isn't much in the way of comfort, but will be of benefit once you've reached the end of the tunnel; well until the next person moves in.

The following is an excerpt from an environmental services website, and do take note of the last paragraph...

What is noise nuisance?

Our service aims to tackle unreasonable noise disturbance and reduce its impact on the quality of people's lives in the borough...

The general consensus – as unsatisfactory as it is - seems to be... just whack your own noise levels up; so you can hear what it is you're listening to. Either that or suffer the stress and frustration of living with an inconsiderate, arsehole, of a neighbour... on the otherhand, where's that bus!

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