Barking mad: Noisy Neighbours and your rights.

Your neighbours’ dogs are barking all day and night, keeping you and your family out of much needed sleep.   Do you have to accept this sleep deprived life and just put up with it, or do you have rights too?

Yes, as a property owner the law does provide you with rights, including the right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of your land and property, provided you comply with legislation, regulations and by laws. This means that your use and enjoyment of your land and property must not prejudice or deprive another person from the use and enjoyment of their land and property.

Referring back to the all too common problem of constantly barking dogs, this could be considered noise nuisance and result in impairment or disturbance of your peace and convenience.   The relevant test is that of the reasonable person. That means, would a reasonable person (not an overly sensitive one) find the noise intolerable or an impediment to their use and enjoyment of their property.

The Noise and Control Regulations (as found in the Environment Conservation Act) prohibits noise nuisance, this means the animal owned or controlled by your neighbour cannot be allowed to cause a noise nuisance. If your neighbour contravenes this regulation, he could face a penalty of up to R20 000, or even imprisonment not exceeding 2 years.

Before going the route of enforcing the law, it’s always easiest (and more cost effective) to approach your neighbour and make him/ her aware that their dog is causing a noise nuisance and ask that they attend to the matter.

If this friendly approach doesn’t succeed, your next option is to approach an attorney to write a formal letter outlining the legal steps that can be implemented, should the noise not stop.

If that still doesn’t have the desired outcome you will need to report the noise nuisance (in writing) to your local municipality. The relevant official should take further steps, including warnings being issued etc.

The final option, if all the above attempts are unsuccessful, is an application to court, for an interdict preventing the neighbour from causing or allowing the noise. But this approach has cost implication, and courts do not look kindly upon application that are considered frivolous, especially with the already overburden court system.

For more information and assistance, contact Cara Knipe on 041 501 9800.