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Noise disturbance and problems with neighbours

Tenancy law does not cover all aspects of relations between tenants and owners or property managers and is even less specific with regard to relations among neighbours.

Relations between neighbours are defined according to house rules or even on the sole basis of custom. The relevant authority varies depending on the type of disturbance.

Noise:

  • In the event of a noise disturbance by neighbours, contact the local police. In many places, normal sleeping hours are considered to be from 10pm to 6am when extra consideration is expected. Sundays and public holidays, and workdays between noon and 1pm are also considered to be rest periods.
  • If you are bothered by road or railway noise, measures can be taken when certain emission values are exceeded. Contact your local commune or the originator of the problem directly (the canton regarding cantonal roads, the federal government with regard to national highways, rail companies with respect to rail noise, etc.)
  • Construction noise: If you object to your neighbour’s building plans, you can file an objection with the local commune. Very often construction work on a neighbour’s property can cause disturbances (noise, dust etc.). Unfortunately, even if the impact is excessive, you will have to put up with it. However, if the construction work results in damage, you can under certain circumstances, demand compensation.

Other issues involving neighbours, such as property damage or unpleasant smells, should also be reported to the police. If the problem continues, you can lodge a complaint, which can prevent, eliminate or reduce disturbances to an acceptable degree. Depending on the circumstances, you can claim compensation or damages.

In the event of disputes among neighbours, contact your local conciliation authority.

Information and advice

Cantonal conciliation authority (information, advice, standard formats)

Landlords’ and tenants’ associations

Landlords’ and tenants’ associations also support landlords and tenants in their specific concerns and interests regarding termination.

What can you do about recurring noise or unpleasant smells from neighbours in an apartment building?

If talking directly with the neighbours does not lead to any improvement in the situation, you should ask the landlord or landlady in writing to deal with the disturbance within a reasonable period of time. At the same time, you can mention that you will cease to pay rent if no improvement occurs within the said time limit, withholding the money in a separate account. You can ask for a reduction in rent so long as the disturbance persists.

If the neighbour continues to cause the disturbance despite a written warning from the landlord or landlady, the latter can reduce the period of notice to be given to 30 days to the end of a calendar month.