Are we neighbours from hell?

(85 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

Re the 'neighbour listening' thing - that is just a feature of close together gardens, I think. Your neighbours can't help the fact that they aren't making any noise when they're gardening, so you think that they can hear you talking (which they probably can!) - you just have to kind of have a mental block, I think, nothing else to be done about it.

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."

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