Cats fouling the sandbox, cigarette smoke, noisy vacuum cleaners – arguments and legal disputes between neighbors are common, and they often end up in court. How can you resolve a conflict in a way that means you can continue to live side by side?
Alexandra Pestalozzi, legal expert at AXA-ARAG specializing in real estate law, explains your rights and obligations when you have arguments with your neighbors.
Under your rental contract, the house or laundry room rules govern when you can do your laundry. If they specify that you’re not allowed to do it on a Sunday, you have to abide by that. That said, there are no grounds these days for objecting to you hanging your laundry out on your balcony.
Yes, that is possible. It can’t be ruled out completely because construction owner liability is what we call a causal liability. We would strongly advise that you make the pool safe so that accidents can be avoided as far as possible. Simply putting up a sign saying that you don’t accept liability isn’t enough.
The rules laid down by the police on quiet hours generally prohibit noisy activities, including vacuum cleaning, in the evenings. The exact nighttime quiet hours where you live can be found in the Police Regulations for your commune or canton. Our advice is to let the robot run during the day, not in the evening.
In principle, your neighbors are allowed to watch TV, but the volume should be kept to a reasonable level at night. The local quiet hours must be observed. We would advise you to talk to your neighbors. If you’re renting your apartment, you can also ask your landlord or landlady for help.
Lengthy phone calls at a normal volume are allowed, even on the balcony, but the volume should be kept low during quiet hours.
No. It would be different if there were a right of way across your property or if it were a shared lawn belonging to the whole building.
It’s important to know that taking your neighbors to court can take a long time, and the outcome is far from certain, not least because judges have extensive powers of discretion. With this in mind, we advise talking things out and trying to find an amicable solution.
Just like barbecues and phone calls, smoking is in principle permitted. However, if your neighbor is chain-smoking cigars from morning to evening, that counts as a nuisance, and you can take legal action.
As long as your neighbors observe quiet hours in the middle of the day and the evening, one hour’s mowing per week with a standard mower is considered reasonable. Here too, you should start by talking to them and maybe suggesting a time window that suits both of you.
No. As a rule, a few small windchimes don’t generate enough noise to be regarded as a nuisance.
Grilling in your own garden is essentially allowed, but excessive smoke and smells could potentially constitute a nuisance. If a dispute goes to court, the judge has the power of decision. Perhaps the neighbor can move his barbecue to a position where the smoke doesn’t bother you so much. Agreeing days when he can grill might help to prevent disputes.
Here too, the question is whether the smoke and smells are excessive enough to constitute a nuisance. The judge has the power to decide. Since it only takes half an hour, and cleaning your barbecue regularly is good hygiene, it would be fair to assume that this is acceptable behavior, even on a Sunday.
Yes. The owner of the pond is required to take appropriate safety precautions. If they don’t, they could face a claim for damages under construction owner liability.
The dog’s owner is responsible for its behavior and can be held liable. We recommend talking to your neighbor so as to prevent any future problems.
The best way to ensure that you get along with your neighbors is to talk to them and show a certain amount of tolerance. As a rule of thumb, avoid doing anything that you yourself would find annoying.
Barking that goes on for hours and into the night can probably be regarded as a nuisance. Occasional barking is a matter of deciding what counts as unreasonable. At any rate, it would be worth checking whether keeping dogs this way is permitted in your residential area.
Unlike dog owners, cat owners aren’t normally held liable for their pet’s behavior because cats can’t be constantly supervised. Simply covering the sandbox after use should have the desired effect. Alternatively, you could research special water- and sound-based devices that repel cats.
Trampolines are commonplace in residential areas. The question of whether they cause a nuisance through noise, shadows or blocked views must be assessed separately in each case. It’s best to discuss where the trampoline will go with the neighbors before buying it. If you live in a rented apartment, you can’t set up a large trampoline without the consent of your landlord or landlady.
In principle, no. In a rented property, the ivy belongs to the landlord or landlady. In a condominium, the ivy normally belongs to the community of owners if it’s growing out of the ground.
Otherwise, you should agree a date for your neighbors to remove the plants growing across your property if you find them a nuisance. If they haven’t done anything by that date, you have a legal right to get the plants cut back by a professional at your own expense. Excessive cutting would constitute criminal damage.
You can find out more about the right to have plants cut back here .