Are You A Bad Neighbour?

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

We’re rather fortunate that our new complex is fairly quiet. Occasionally you’ll hear our neighbour scream at a TV when his rugby is losing. Another neighbour likes to play the saxophone but she is actually very good, so we don’t mind. I’m glad, however, that we didn’t live in our current home when she was still learning how to play.


As a rule of thumb, I prefer having elderly neighbours because by and large, I have found them to be the most considerate in terms of making noise. As an insomniac who dabbles in the health and fitness industry (where waking up before 5am is the norm), I really can’t afford to lose sleep to noise-makers.

A few years back we had a spate of horrible tenants in our complex. It seemed like every time one dodgy character moved out, a worse one would move in. First we had the out-of-work actors. Other than the odd TV commercial and shift at Spur, they really didn’t work much. They were never home on weekends but made up for it by hosting random mid-week parties where glasses and cigarette butts would end up in our garden. Occasionally one of them would bring a, err, friend home and we could hear the patter of feet as they chased each other around the bedroom.

They left and were replaced by a couple that was forever fighting. She would move out for a bit and what ensued was a programme of bi-weekly parties or gaming sessions where the surround sound was turned up so loud my windows would rattle.

Luckily, both sets of neighbours from hell were merely renting so when enough people complained to the owner, she took action and never renewed their leases when the time came. But what do you do when it’s month one of a year-long agreement? Or if the noisemakers are owners?

Most advice you will find teaches you to work through your body corporate or managing agent and let them mediate such issues. Many advocate knocking on the offending person’s door and telling them firmly, but politely, that their party is disturbing everyone else. Following this advice will probably lead to peaceful cohabitation.

But insomniacs don’t dream of peace, we dream of revenge. Well, if we could sleep we would. Once, as the sky darkened I noticed that my noisy neighbour had left his car windows and sun-roof open. A few moments later drops started to fall. I could quite easily have warned him but decided against it. After all, he didn’t seem to appreciate me knocking on his door at 2am on a Wednesday morning so I certainly wouldn’t want to disturb him during a thunderstorm.

Now I don’t want to come across as a killjoy or meddling neighbour. Quite the opposite. I don’t care if you host all-night booze-filled orgies in your home. All I ask is that you do it quietly.

Or invite me.

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