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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).

PattieOfurniture Sun 09-Jun-13 23:39:56

You don't seem like terrible neighbours to me. My dc have been doing the exact same today, the difference being our neighbours are like us, with young children.
I think you were very reasonable in response to your neighbour and I'd have given the same reply.
If I were you though, I'd move house, not sure I could cope with the stresses of that.

mercibucket Sun 09-Jun-13 23:40:14

we have neighbours like this. over the years it has become clear that nothing we do is quiet enough. recently i told them to deal with it. i recommend starting off with this tack as it will end up that way regardless.
the only thing i would do is ban any high pitched shrieking - that really isnt necessary

DeepPurple Sun 09-Jun-13 23:42:35

My neighbour's kids play out all day long in the summer, making tons of noise, whilst I'm trying to sleep after a night shift. How inconsiderate! Or not. As long as it is reasonable times and a reasonable level of noise then you aren't doing anything wrong.

Onesleeptillwembley Sun 09-Jun-13 23:46:14

If it isn't constant shrieking or yes, that awful high pitched shrieking then it's just life. Kids make some noise and people do forget. I can't say if you are they are right or wrong, but could potentially see both sides.

VashtaNerada Sun 09-Jun-13 23:47:07

It doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong. Make sure they're always in at a set time (so if challenged you can say with all certainty "It's only ever between 3:30 and 6:30" or whatever). Also, look up your local authority's guidelines on noise nuisance. It will give you the confidence that you're not breaking any rules.

thornrose Sun 09-Jun-13 23:48:38

I think you sound like thoroughly decent neighbours, I love the sound of children having fun, I hate the idea of you desperately shushing them.

Ban high pitched shrieking, really? How do you go about that? Please keep your shrieks of pleasure under a certain level/pitch?

You should not feel the need to move. I second your opinion that they need to consider a move where there are guaranteed to be no families.

Sinkingfeeling Sun 09-Jun-13 23:49:03

Ridiculous. I would ignore them and carry on as usual. It's not as if you're a) having frequent all-night parties, b) running a drugs den or a brothel from the house or c) running a business selling second-hand cars from your driveway. Let your children enjoy their garden while the weather's good - your neighbours can have all the peace they need for 10 months of the year.

BoundandRebound Sun 09-Jun-13 23:51:30




BoundandRebound Sun 09-Jun-13 23:51:54

sorry caps lock

thornrose Sun 09-Jun-13 23:52:39

Great answer Bound.

pictish Sun 09-Jun-13 23:52:49

What miseries your neighbours are. We live right next door to a retired couple and they are very laid back about the kids playing/shouting/laughing/crying/singing...

Your neighbours are asking the unreasonable and the downright impossible. If they didn't want to be near families that badly, they should've moved to a retirement village. You can't live amongst other people at large and demand silence.

I used to have a neighbour who complained about the noise of normal family life all the time. Eventually I told him "Why don't you contact environmental health if we're so bad, or the police ....and you can waste their time instead of mine!"

He never bothered us again. wink

FannyFifer Sun 09-Jun-13 23:57:12

You were very polite, I would prob have just laughed at them.

Blessyou Sun 09-Jun-13 23:58:16

Your OP sounds very reasonable, however, my dsis could say the same re time restrictions and the noise being related to kids at play etc and I would HATE to be her neighbour.

The volume in her home/garden is set permanently to LOUD. They yell at each other from room to room, house to garden etc, they will have whole conversations in different parts of the house, there is screaming, bickering, yelling, banging around which is constant and goes unchecked. Her neighbours have complained and she has told them the same as you, which is why it made me think of her.

So, I remain on the fence, as it were.

It is possible to have kids playing from 3.25 to 6.30 pm daily and be a nuisance. If your neighbours are upset, I would say be mindful of the volume and make sure they are not making a full on racket for the full 3 hours between home time and dinner every day.

pictish Mon 10-Jun-13 00:07:33

"I'm sorry you feel like that but this is not a retirement village" is very good actually.
Just don't engage. Trying to keep kids quiet in the back garden on a sunny day is like trying to eat soup with a fork, or nail jelly to a tree.

We have rules here. From tea time (6pm) onwards, the kids are only allowed out in the garden if they play quietly.
This is because our neighbours are generally not at home during the day, but often use their garden in the evening when we are feeding our lot and putting them to bed. If the kids want an extra half hour out there they understand they must keep it down or come back in. They are 11, 5 and 4.
That way we all get along. No one has ever complained.

Your neighbours are pretty much trying to control your garden.
Seriously...I would bat them away.

expatinscotland Mon 10-Jun-13 00:08:47

If they want to live in a retirement community, there are plenty of them about. Tell them too bad.

Catrin Mon 10-Jun-13 00:10:37

I utterly despise excessively noisy children - though in my case the ridiculously loud neighbouring children have been replaced by a parent. (IWILL COUNT TO 3 AND YOU"D BETTER BEHAVE ..1..2..3..4.." My own DC are not allowed to be too loud - my mantra is "Just because I enjoy you, doesn't mean anyone else has to"

Ultimately, your garden, your rules. I am sure yours are very loud, or no one would feel the need to comment. But that does not make you anti social neighbour of the century.

thornrose Mon 10-Jun-13 00:22:22

You "utterly despise excessively noisy children", really? I utterly despise paedophiles, rapists and murderers, never children, however noisy.

MrsFrederickWentworth Mon 10-Jun-13 00:25:15

As a child I was told by my parents that screaming wasn't allowed because it indicated fear or danger, and you might try that.

But children having fun is lovely unless you're trying to get a small baby to sleep or someone is seriously ill.

Is there a way that your children can become friends with the neighbours? Do chores for them/ take a dog for a walk? Or you could have the neighbours round and the children hand round the nibbles? If you don't know them, 4 seems a lot. If you do, they become " the one who asks me about what it is like to do x" it " the sweet one who"

I think you sound great. But I would divide and rule the neighbours, invite them round, in due course take your kids carol singing round them for a local charity, and get them on side. Those who refuse will eventually sell up.

KeatsiePie Mon 10-Jun-13 00:27:06

So they are out shrieking and laughing and playing for about three hours a day during the week, and for longer, maybe 5-hour afternoons say every other weekend? So that averages out to be what, 20 hours a week?

I get that that is suddenly a lot of noise if before it was very quiet on your block. But it's not at all unreasonable. It really isn't. This is normal spring and summertime noise -- kids yelling, water splashing, balls bouncing, dogs barking, neighbors mowing. I can imagine I would sometimes breathe a sigh of pleasure when quiet fell in the evening; that's partly what makes a summertime evening so lovely: all the bustle stops. Tell them to look forward to that! Or tell them that right now "live and let live" means your kids are out playing for 20 hours per week, and they get to have quiet for the other 148 hours per week, and would they prefer a 50/50 split instead.

SoggySummer Mon 10-Jun-13 00:38:18

They sound a bit unreasonable imo. My inlaws are like this. They bought their family home on an estate as a newbuild in 1970 something. Most of their original neighbours have moved away and been replaced with families and all my ILs do is moan and moan about how noisy the kids are. Drives me insane.

I have teens now and live on an estate of 3 bedroomed houses. Alot of young children playing out. I love listening to them play in the most part although we do seem to have a screamer (high pitched) moved in 3 doors up and I have to admit I did say to DH this afternoon "bloody hell that kid cant half scream which he would bloody shut up". I think it would have to be hideously constant to make me actually knock on their door and complain though.

kotinka Mon 10-Jun-13 00:43:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OldBagWantsNewBag Mon 10-Jun-13 00:43:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Myosotis Mon 10-Jun-13 00:55:32

Self righteous gits. I live in a council estate which is mostly older couples. Every time some one dies, a new family moves in, but so far we are still in the minority. When we first moved in, we apologized for the noise, but we're told not to be stupid, that it was lovely to hear the children enjoying themselves.

Perhaps it is different where we live because it is council housing, which was originally allocated to families, and that ethos has remained even as the families have aged.

Move to a council estate op, kids are more valued!

olgaga Mon 10-Jun-13 01:01:26

I think your neighbour needs to get to grips with the fact that they are living in suburban family homes. Just because their own, and their neighbour's children have grown up and moved away doesn't mean they are no longer family homes.

I live on a similar kind of development and even though we are surrounded by families of various ages I do sometimes have to point out that screaming, shrieking and shouting are unfair on the neighbours.

Similarly, the children need to get to grips with the fact that their noise does disturb other people.

It can get a bit noisy occasionally when DD (now 12) has friends around, but she knows perfectly well that I will come out and embarrass her check their behaviour if the noise level gets too much.

I did have to speak to one girl in particular who seemed to be prompted to scream at the top of her voice whenever she got on the swing grin. Thankfully after the transition from primary to secondary school, she is now in a different group of friends and no longer comes!

It is possible for children to enjoy themselves playing without screaming and disturbing the neighbours - especially if this is a regular thing.

There's also nothing worse if you have young children who you're trying to get to sleep in the early evening.

Something you might have to bear in mind OP as the age profile of your immediate neighbours changes!

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