This is the most common problem I’ve been asked to resolve in my position as an elected Resident Association committee member. It can be clubbing music blasting at odd hours in the morning, excessive partying, excessive fireworks, etc. Point is, you have an infant baby that needs to sleep, or an elderly grandmother who just doesn’t want to be woken up at 2am by partying youths, it’s to a point where it’s intolerable.
What do I do?
1. Approach the issue with next-door neighbour in a friendly manner and simply talk things out.
a. You live in the same neighbourhood, side by side. It makes sense to resolve an issue like normal adults by just talking to them about it. There are however events that you may also host in your own home that also causes noise, just because didn’t complain it doesn’t mean you never did it.
b. Dogs barking for example, is a pain point for some neighbours, so you’d have to explain the reasons why your furbaby barks, or for cat owners whose neighbours whose cats tend to roam, why they like to move around.
2. Consult and seek assistance from Residents Association (RA) or Joint Management Body (JMB) to mediate between two neighbours.
a. Your neighbour is an inconsiderate oaf and he or she won’t be reasonable with the issue of noise. Talking didn’t work, or they’re unresponsive and irresponsible, especially if the unit is an AirBnB rental.
b. Every landed residential area would have a local RA, and strata title residential areas would have a JMB. Appeal to your committee members for an intervention. The person elected as RA or appointed as JMB would attempt to resolve it for you.
3. Report police and seek assistance from local authority aka DBKL or MPAJ.
a. This is what I’d call a tough approach. If the problem is immediate and you’re worried about your family’s safety and wellbeing I’d advise you to call the police, but this is when the party is really rowdy.
b. If the problem persists too many times and you can’t stand it anymore (cannot tahan oredi), I’d advise you to report via your local authority’s complaints portal aka Aduanku. For eg; Majlis Perbandaran Ampang Jaya (MPAJ)’s Aduanku complaints portal is at http://aduan.mpaj.gov.my/aduan/. All you need to do is register as a resident and fill in a form listing out your complaints with audio, video or photographic evidence. Simple and free.
4. Last Resort : Suing for tort due to private nuisance/noise pollution.
a. As a homeowner you have the right to the enjoyment of your own property which includes a reasonable level of noise for everyone in the neighbourhood. You cannot do much if you live in a flat with thin walls, but for landed residential usually there is a threshold you shouldn’t exceed.
b. It’s about common sense and courtesy when you’re doing construction work, do it only within reasonable hours, if you’re having a party, lower the volume at 12 midnight, etc. In normal circumstances, most people are pretty understanding when you tell them your infant or children are sleeping etc.
c. A lawyer’s perspective on when 1-3 has been attempted and nothing works, you can sue your neighbour under tort law as a last resort. You have done all that is reasonable to resolve the issue out of Court. This means suing your neighbour after acquiring sufficient evidence/expert witnesses.
d. I would only advise this when you have a strong factual case, which means as a homeowner you’d need to ensure you have strong evidence. We can proceed in law, but whether winning or losing in the end depends on whether your claim can be proven in Court.
This is intended as general guidance not actual legal advice. Please contact me at email@example.com or fill up a form at www.aziraaziz.com for detailed legal services related to above, or anything at all related to law and policy.