Are we neighbours from hell?

(106 Posts)
takethatno1fan Sun 09-Jun-13 23:08:20

Have posted this elsewhere but thought I would get some other views, and wonder if others have had similar experiences.

We are a family of four - mum, dad, two kids aged 5 and 7. We moved from the country to a 'middle-class' residential housing estate in a small town, in order that our children could see more of their friends outside of school. We are respectable, working people and our children are well mannered and polite. We keep our home and garden in good order. Our house is, along with all others in the estate, detached, and there are five neighbouring properties (three to the sides, and two directly behind). We are on reasonably good terms with the neighbours either side (our actual next door neighbours), the other three are actually on another street and we have little or nothing to do with us.

We very much enjoy living here, although there aren't too many other families with children (there are a few), and many of the houses are owned by older or retired people. In fact, all of those around our house are older or retired.

The weather here has been great this weekend. The kids asked to get the paddling pool out. So on Saturday we were out all morning, and arrived back early afternoon and got the pool filled and the kids played in it for a couple of hours having a great time. They also played on the trampoline.

Today, from just before lunchtime, the kids and two of their friends were having a ball in the paddling pool, laughing and shrieking.

Our neighbours from directly behind us came round to complain about the noise our kids were making. I guess they are in early-mid 60s. Their opening gambit was to tell me that most of the people in the estate are older/retired and want to live in peace and quiet. They told me that they feel they can no longer use their garden or conservatory because of the noise of the children. They had even observed that the kids had had some friends back last Friday afternoon and it was noisy. I should say at this point that last Friday we had four school friends back and they all played on the trampoline in the back garden between 3.30 and 6.00. The neighbours say that it always starts at around 3.30 in the afternoon (coincidentally the time the kids return from school!).

Staggered by this visit, I remained completely composed and polite. I told them that I appreciated their issue but that they may have to accept that when young children play on a summer day in a paddling pool or trampoline that they'll tend to laugh, shout and shriek with happiness and delight. I said to them that while I understood that they had become used to having older, childless neighbours over the past few years, there could be no guarantee this would always be the case. I also made the point that their being retired doesn't entitle them to any peace and quiet. They questioned how many children we had in the house, almost sneering at the bikes on the front lawn.

We have had no other complaints or comments, but they claim around five other people (or households) agree with them. During this surreal conversation my wife arrived back home, and deducing what was being discussed became quite upset that we had a) caused distress and b) that we were the topic of discussion in the adjoining street. However, I told them that while I would raise this issue with the children, I thought it would be impossible for them to play in a Dickenzian silence, and completely impractical to police.

The neighbours claim that it's happening all the time, but it really isn't. The kids are at school from 9am until around 3.20pm each weekday, and we're frequently away at weekends visiting friends, which they told us was 'a joy' for them. Every few weeks the kids get to invite some friends round on a Friday afternoon for a play and dinner. Usually until around 6.30pm. Regardless of all of this, the weather has only been good enough for outdoor play for the past few weeks! The neighbours said they'd prefer it if the kids could play out the front of the house and on the road instead of playing in the back garden!

Dutifully, after lunch, when the kids went back out to play, I tried to get them to play a bit more 'quietly', but it was just completely pointless. They jokingly whispered for a few seconds then splashed back into the cold paddling pool with shrieking and laughter! I ended up making more noise telling them to shoosh! It was absurd.

Our kids are as equally entitled to have fun and play in our own garden as the neighbours are to do whatever they like in theirs. They're not excessively noisy to my mind, they aren't shouting, fighting or swearing. They're not kicking balls around or playing loud music, but even if they were, I can't see why that would be inappropriate. The kids are in bed by 8pm on weeknights, and have rarely been out after 7pm since the clocks went forward, so neighbours would never be disturbed by noise late at night (we're not irresponsible parents). I don't want to fall out with these people, but if they're annoyed by the kids playing for a couple of hours in the late afternoon, they're going to really hate it during the summer holidays, and I fear that the situation will degenerate into complete acrimony very quickly.

One of the neighbours actually used the phrase 'live and let live' during our discussion, which was more than ironic given the nature of the discussion. I am assuming that the root of the problem is that they're so used to having literally no noise from this house, that to move to having a young family over the fence is total shock to them. None of us though, has the right to choose who buys neighbouring properties. I feel that in a way, they are victimising us because we are a family. While I don't want to charactarise them, or make assumptions, I have little doubt that if we had been an older couple who had been having friends round for a garden party until late at night that there would be no problem.

We're not behaving anti-socially, or breaking any laws. All we're doing is making reasonable use of our property, which for comparatively short periods involves the kids articulating themselves when having fun. We don't want our kids to be sitting inside watching TV and playing computer games, we want them outside, on bikes and trampolines, getting fresh air and exercise. While it no doubt sounds a little harsh, my inclination is that if the situation becomes that big a problem for them, they should move to a retirement community where they can be guaranteed no families would move in. I totally understand and appreciate how noise can cause great stress to some people, but equally, we can't tell our kids that they can no longer have friends round to play, or that they can't use the back garden any more. We feel totally gutted that we have such intolerant neighbours, but I accept the sad fact of the matter is that we now feel as harassed as I imagine they do!

Any thoughts would be useful if you are in a similar position (on whichever side of the fence).

cocolepew Mon 10-Jun-13 18:05:06

I think you are now over thinking this grin. You have spoken to the council and you can tell your neighbour to phone then if they moan again, you know what the outcome will be so no need to worry.

The only time I stopped my children or their friends making noise was when the people behind us had a baby. When I saw the curtains close they all had to leave the trampoline and go around the front.

The only thing I can't stand, when in the garden is other people's music.

takethatno1fan Mon 10-Jun-13 18:15:10

I dare say that I could be more considerate in their eyes/ears, but this is where the quandary lies. At which point does our consideration for our neighbours' wishes start to affect the enjoyment we should expect from our own home? One is no more important than the other. They don't want to use their back garden because it isn't quiet enough when my kids are playing in it - that's a choice.

Again, I don't want to appear to be difficult or unreasonable in any way, but taking your example of your parents' living in a quiet street... it presumably isn't quite as quiet as it was because a family has moved in? That's the chance you take if you live in a mixed community instead of a particular social setting, then you have to accept that your neighbours will change from time to time. Equally, if my neighbours chose to smoke in their back garden and the smoke blew over our fence onto our patio we'd just have to tolerate it even though we hate the smell of cigarette smoke.

So am I being unreasonable by allowing my kids to play (within my rules), or are the neighbours being unreasonable for expecting to be able to have tranquility during every hour of the day in their own garden. I suppose we're both being equally as reasonable/unreasonable about it.

People don't like change very much, but sometimes it's outwith our control.

I suppose my point is that neither party has any more or less entitlement do whatever they want in their garden (provided it's legal of course), but in complaining the way they did (which I've probably not articulated very well in my original post), they've in fact put us in a position where we feel uncomfortable for using our own garden at all. Which I guess makes us the considerate ones!!

schobe Mon 10-Jun-13 18:20:29

Y'know when coco said you were overthinking this? Refer to that.

You are starting to sound like hard work.

THEY are being unreasonable. That is unless you have jammed the trampoline and paddling pool right up against their fence when you have a ginormous garden, or are training your DCs to win the loudest, most piercing shriek in the world contest.

Now STOP obsessing grin I mean that kindly.

pictish Mon 10-Jun-13 18:25:19

Look - they're a pair of miserable scrotes, that's all!
Some folks are like that. Just tell them to do one.

All this mooning and pondering over it is needless.


Miserable scrotes


Do one

End of.

PearlyWhites Mon 10-Jun-13 18:26:58

How sad when the sound of children happily playing is considered a disruption. Op you sound a lovely family and the neighbours are very rude.

alpinemeadow Mon 10-Jun-13 18:33:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

swampytiggaa Mon 10-Jun-13 18:52:48

Tbh i wouldn't worry. As long as they aren't it before 9 or after about 8 i can't see an issue.

I bring my little horrors in if they are too noisy smile

WinkyWinkola Mon 10-Jun-13 19:35:06

You recorded your dcs noise and will edit it later?

Okay now I think you're being very daft.

Move on.

Theyoniwayisnorthwards Mon 10-Jun-13 21:18:36

YANBU and I dont think you're being daft either, sounds to me like you were just a bit mortified that your neighbours did this and now you feel the need to check your own opinion against that of others. I would react similarly.

I do think you need to just chalk it up to difficult individuals, remain polite but firm and continue to let your children enjoy the garden.

KeatsiePie Mon 10-Jun-13 21:51:46

I too really think you should let it go. Again, it's 20/hrs per week of completely reasonable noise in daytime hours. Probably the best hours you could possibly have picked -- not too early not too late. I get concerned easily about neighbor relations and I still think you should stop worrying now.

And, since your wife was upset by it, it's probably up to you to be the calm reassuring one -- "Honey I've called the council, there's nothing to worry about. People are not talking about is, I highly doubt everyone feels like that couple does, so we're going to just forget it. Come on let's go watch our kids play in the sun."

Barney60 Wed 18-Feb-15 18:56:54

I live in a similar situation, but the other way round, I've brought up my children and bought here surrounded by retired people for peace and quiet, I think I'm entitled to that.
New neighbours from hell over the back from me 4 kids, when ever its not bad weather there out there screaming and shouting at the top of their voices, from 8am before school, then after school, during the holidays its all day sometimes till ten at night. I can't even hear my TV!
I brought up two kids we used to take them to the park to scream and run steam off, when back home be respectful, its a basic human right! Why do some parents think its all about them?
Respect of your elders, we like quiet when in our garden, not constant screaming!
both my children are well mannered and hold down very good jobs sons a doctor, if you want your children to grow up and do good in the world teach them respect NOW, they learn at most at their younger years, instead of thinking you know best learn from your neighbours, you never know you might need them one day.
After very nicely saying to ours can you please just turn it down a little its been going on all day, I was told what do you want me to do?
USE YOUR PARENTING SKILLS! If you can't control them while here little you never will, what will they grow up to be like?
you may not think it now but you will be in our shoes one day, older people don't sleep well so don't be antagonistic, your children will thank you in the end, instead of chucking the kids in the garden to play and shutting the door so YOU don't hear them. Play with them, talk to them sit with them, draw with them, teach them games and how to play quieter, note I said quieter not SILENT, or move somewhere where all your kids can scream to each other, and leave us to our twi -light years in PEACE and QUIET!

Littlefish Wed 18-Feb-15 19:02:15

Barney - do you live in a retirement estate?

monkeysaymoo Wed 18-Feb-15 19:07:07

This thread two years old. Barney if you were trying to travel back in time to the good old days of children should be seen and not heard you need to keep going another 100 years.

gamerchick Wed 18-Feb-15 19:07:10

Zombie thread.

gamerchick Wed 18-Feb-15 19:09:25

Man Barney you sound like a reet barrel of laughs.

Chippednailvarnish Wed 18-Feb-15 19:10:47

Barney you've posted on a thread that is 18 months old, just to moan?!?! And what on earth has your son being a doctor got to do with it? hmm

pictish Wed 18-Feb-15 19:17:28

Barney sell your house and move to a retirement village ffs. Do not buy a house somewhere with family homes, then complain that there are families.
Seriously - retirement village. Find one.

Barney60 Thu 19-Feb-15 20:05:32

Pictish I didn't buy a house on an estate, I bought a bungalow surrounded by other bungalows occupied mainly by retired couples. The neighbours from hell came after me, and guess what they bought cos it was QUIET round here.
I'm not bothered by kids playing just screeching ALL the time they are outside, I can't enjoy my garden and don't see by I should have to put up with it.
Cos their parents love the little darlings doesn't mean we all have too!
Yes I will sell if it carry on BEFORE the summer holidays or I've no chance, only problem is 2 others are saying the same thing!
No I don't want to live in a retirement village, they Gould move to an estate!
My son being a doc was to point out that that having rules while their little will help hem in later life, learns them RESPECT

pictish Thu 19-Feb-15 20:46:17

Yes well, unfortunately you can't hope to control who buys what house where. You're not entitled to peace and quiet actually, and nor is it a basic human right. It's the luck of the draw. Unless they are displaying antisocial behaviour (which kids using their own garden isn't) you're just going to have to live with it, as we all do our neighbours that we didn't hand pick ourselves.
If you really can't bear for a neighbouring home to be occupied by a young family whose kids make a noise in the garden, then like I say, you're free to sell up and move to a retirement village.
They don't have to move to an estate...they're not complaining.

gamerchick Thu 19-Feb-15 20:51:09

Have to agree. ^^

Do you bring up your son being a doctor at any opportunity? My doctors just been done for drink driving. . It's not all that.

PekeandPollicle Thu 19-Feb-15 21:09:02

My brother is a Dr. I remember him running around the garden in and out of paddling pools shrieking.

<irrelevant anecdote with as much validity as barney's>

Barney60 Fri 20-Feb-15 12:44:19

Chippenenavilvarnish, I found this by accident looking for something else, thought I was entitled to my opinion from the other side of the fence (forgive the pun)
My children ran around too, without trying to repeat myself.. I don't mind kids playing its the screeching, goes right through you, also not ALL day and as I said before after 10pm last time we had a break in the weather, that bloody football against the fence drives me mad!
Any how This has taken an interesting turn today, my next door neighbour but one on the other side to me, whos disabled and very poorly( I don't know her, I've only lived here for a year, seven of those nursing my husband until bless him he sadly passed away) has complained to our local MP who it turns out lives about 5 doors away, whos also not amused, has taken it on, theres a petition going round and a few of us are soon to be supplied with noise boxes??, not sure what all this means but if it cuts he noise down I'm all for it!
Pekeandpollicle, yes docs are human too, one of the most stressed out jobs in the country at mo!

Littlefish Fri 20-Feb-15 17:02:08

You sound like a neighbour from hell Barney60.

I hope your local MP has better things to do with his time than get involved with local neighbours whinging about what sounds like normal family noise. I would be absolutely horrified to think that my taxes were funding this vendetta you seem to be involved with.

Organising a petition against this family is just bitchy and cowardly and will hopefully achieve nothing.

If you have valid concerns, then contact your local authority noise abatement team.

Chippednailvarnish Fri 20-Feb-15 20:46:15

Anyone else wondering if Barney is Hyacinth Bucket? grin

slippermaiden Fri 20-Feb-15 21:08:59

We have a neighbour who doesn't like the noise of our children having fun. Since they were 2 until now (age 7) they ignore us and have been rude to the children playing outside, telling them to be quiet when I had gone inside. They have grandchildren who I always hear crying. You carry on enjoying your garden, these people are being ridiculous!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now