Guidelines for discussing the problem with your neighbour

Plan what you are going to say beforehand. Describe the nuisance and be prepared to quote some examples of the disturbance if asked, particularly times and dates and how it affects you in your home or garden.

Find out from us what the law says and what you can reasonably expect under the law. Be realistic about what the law entitles you to; it does not necessarily guarantee absolute freedom from the activities of your neighbours. In many cases there are always going to be intrusions in our domestic lives, it is an unavoidable consequence of the type of society we live in, and there is little that can be done to prevent some level of exposure to unwanted intrusions. For example, if the disturbance is due to unavoidable activities such as DIY noise you may have to be prepared to negotiate times with your neighbour when the noisy work can be carried out.

Try not to go round when you are angry. Be courteous, calm and polite, as you are far more likely to receive a courteous response yourself. Never use threatening behaviour; if this is used against you, walk away immediately, and do not become embroiled in an argument or retaliate if threatened.

Do not go round with the sole intention of getting an apology and making them feel guilty and inadequate. Do not use the opportunity to drag up every other issue that you may have with your neighbours, and especially avoid raising past problems. Remember that you are trying to find a solution to a specific problem that you and your neighbours can live with, and are relying on your neighbour's cooperation to achieve this informally. If you don't fancy going round to the person's property you could try and arrange to bump into them when they are in their garden, or look for them returning to their house.

Ideally do not go round if you know or suspect that your neighbours have been drinking or partying heavily. They may not be in the best condition to appreciate your point of view. In addition, if they are hosting a party, they may be resentful of being embarrassed in front of their guests, and your presence may also encourage one or more of the guests to voice their opinion in support of their hosts. However, if you feel the situation is safe enough to approach your neighbours, limit your request to simply asking for the volume to be turned down, and call round on another occasion to discuss the incident as a whole.

If other people are bothered by the same problem, ask one of them to accompany you. Ask a friend or family member to accompany you, but make sure that they understand their role, and leave you to take the lead in the conversation. Avoid ganging-up on your neighbour!

If you go round on your own let someone know where you are going, how long you expect to be and arrange for them to call you on your mobile if you're not back before a pre-arranged time.