By Gloria James-Civetta

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How do I Handle Neighbour Disputes Effectively?

4 min read

If you stay in Singapore, chances are you stay in a high-rise building, along with over 80% of the country’s population.
As such, there is a likelihood that you fall under the unfortunate situation where you have a neighbour who just refuses to stop making excessive noise at night, or wouldn’t stop littering along the shared corridor, or even leaves his or her pet’s ‘business’ right at your doorstep.

Perhaps you are at your wit’s end and exhausted all means of resolving this issue with your neighbour amicably. You’ve tried speaking to that neighbour, you’ve sought help from your grassroots leaders at your nearest Community Club for an informal mediation, and you might even have tried making a police report, only to be turned away.

Nothing has worked so far, and it seems like the only remaining option is to move out. Before you carry out such a drastic decision, let our experienced criminal lawyers advise you on some possible options you might have in handling neighbour disputes effectively, and how best to balance these options to resolve the issue.

  1. Resolving the Dispute: Options
    Mediation at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC)

    Mediation at the CMC involves a trained neutral third-party mediator who will facilitate a conversation between you and your neighbour. During the session, the mediator will listen to both you and your neighbour’s side of the story and the issues in conflict, either in a joint or a private session.

    The mediator will then guide both parties towards coming up with your own solutions. If mutually agreeable solutions are found, both parties will then enter into a written agreement.
    You may find this option helpful if what was required was simply a trained mediator to speak to both of you, especially if the issue was just a simple misunderstanding.

    However, if your relationship with the neighbour has deteriorated past the point of no return and you find it difficult to speak to them even in the presence of a neutral third-party mediator, then it may be time for you to take the matters further.

    Filing a Claim at the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals (CDRT)

    The CDRT was established by and is governed under the Community Disputes Resolution Act 2015 (CDRA). Under this statute, no person is to cause unreasonable interference with his/her neighbour’s enjoyment or use of that neighbour’s place of residence, such as creating excessive noise.

    If the tribunal is satisfied that a case has been proven, the tribunal may make an order for:

    • Damages (which means money to be paid by the neighbour party to you)
    • An injunction (which prohibits the neighbour from doing certain things, such as playing loud music)
    • Specific performances (which compels the neighbour to do certain things, such as undoing the damage done to property); and/or
    • An apology

    Do note that first and foremost, it has to be established that the other party involved is a “neighbour”. A neighbour under CDRA is defined as a person living in the same building, or within 100 metres of your place of residence.

    Further, the CDRT is meant to be an avenue of last resort after all self-help options, including community mediation, have been attempted and exhausted. Otherwise, the judge may simply make an order for both parties to attend such a mediation session without hearing the case.

  2. Other Possible Options

    We understand the distress that an unruly neighbour’s actions can cause you. As such, we can explore other options, such as applying for some form of sanction to stop your neighbour from causing you and your family further suffering.

    Protection from Harassment Act (POHA)

    When it comes to the speed in which sanctions can be sought, an Expedited Protection Order (“EPO”) comes to mind. An EPO protects victims from future harassment, and if your neighbour breaches the order, they may be liable to a criminal offence.
    Do take note that this option is subject to higher thresholds and further requirements than that under the CDRT. Our lawyers can advise you on whether the unique circumstances of your case meet these requirements, some of which include evidence that your neighbour’s behaviour is abusive and is likely to continue.

    Cease and Desist

    Alternatively, you may engage us to send your neighbour a formal cease and desist letter to compel him/her to stop the unruly behaviour. In this letter, we would also state that if your neighbour fails to stop these actions, we will commence legal proceedings against him/her.
    In addition, if we do escalate this matter to court (either CDRT or POHA), this letter would serve as evidence of us trying to resolve this matter with him/her at an early stage.

  3. Seek Legal Advice

    Resolving a dispute does not have to be slow and painful, and it definitely does not have to involve uprooting your family and moving to a new home. Let our experienced Criminal lawyers help you out of this difficult situation by advising you on the different options you have based on the facts of your case.
    Call us now at Gloria James-Civetta & Co to set up a consultation with one of our lawyers. Our goal is to help you find a resolution that works for both you and your family. When you contact our experienced team, we will provide you with a consultation tailored to your specific circumstances and goals in mind.

What can we do for you?

Should you have any questions or would like more information, please contact our criminal representation lawyers at 6337 0469 or email us at consult@gjclaw.com.sg

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