Noisy neighbours: 7 tips on how to handle them

8 min read

Whether they live above, below or beside us, we may encounter noisy neighbours at some point in our lives, especially when we’re staying at home more often.

Most of us have probably had some experience with unreasonable ones, like those who refuse to keep the volume down while singing karaoke, or stomp around their apartment wearing what sounds like giant clogs.

While we can hope to be blessed with friendly neighbours (or at the very least, indifferent ones), we need to be prepared for the possibility of encountering the more nasty ones.

Woman singing karaoke
It’s worse if your neighbour can’t sing well.

Whether you’re living in an HDB flat, condo or landed, here are a few tips that will come in handy if you find yourself facing a not-so-pleasant neighbour.

1. Be friendly

As the saying goes: you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

If you can establish a good relationship with your neighbours early on, they’ll probably be more willing to let things slide and not get on your case as much.

“I had a neighbour who quarrelled with pretty much everyone in my block — except for me,” says Catherine, a longtime HDB resident in Hougang. “I’m big on baking, so I always share my extra baked goods with my neighbours, and I think that helped me stay in his good books!”

If you’re going to throw a party at home or carry out renovation works, consider letting your neighbours know beforehand with a promise to try to keep the volume down. They’re much less likely to complain if they’re prepared for the noise.

There’s also a higher chance that your neighbours will reciprocate the kind gesture, including reducing the noise level on their end.

2. Reach out to the noisy neighbours

Sometimes it helps to check in with your neighbour and hear them out first to resolve the issue, instead of accusing them of disturbing your peace right off the bat.

Talking to them might help you understand the reason behind the noise levels. They might even be unaware that the noise they’re making is disturbing others.

Give your neighbour a chance to explain – it will help prevent the disagreement from escalating to a full-on dispute. Once they’re done with their side of the story, calmly explain why you’re distressed by the noise.

Understandably, this is easier said than done, but it’s worth a shot. Everyone feels better after a good vent, and the same goes for you and your noisy neighbours.

3. Keep your cool and rely on logic, not emotion

If you find that you’re dealing with someone who’s being unreasonable, the worst thing you can do is lose your composure and start a shouting match. Keep your wits about you and counter your neighbour’s points calmly with level-headed discussions.

Bringing emotion into the argument and getting worked up about the situation will cloud your ability to respond effectively to your neighbour, not to mention it’ll also stoke further animosity.

4. Seek help from a grassroots leader

If you find yourself having zero luck resolving the noise issue with your neighbour one-on-one, consider approaching your grassroots leader for help.

While you can try reaching out to HDB (for those who live in HDB units), neighbourly disputes fall outside their jurisdiction as they’re simply a housing developer and not a mediator.

It often helps to have a neutral person involved to provide an unbiased opinion in a tough, emotionally-charged situation.

You can contact your grassroots leader through your nearest Community Club (CC).

However, bear in mind they have no legal authority, so your grassroots leader can only function as a third party to provide mediation. If your neighbour refuses to pipe down and keep their noise levels low, you can consider the next option.

5. Go for mediation

If going through your grassroots leaders yields unsatisfactory results, the next thing you can do is to opt for mediation at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC). During a mediation session, a trained mediator will be present to help facilitate the conversation between you and your neighbour in the hopes of trying to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

The mediator is not there to provide the solutions or force ultimatums on either party. The aim is for both sides to come to a solution together.

Do note that the CMC is a voluntary mediation session, and each party has to agree to attend. The CMC has no power to compel either party to come to the table, or abide by the solutions discussed and agreed upon during the session.

Should you choose to go for mediation, you’ll need to pay a one-time administrative fee of S$5. This is regardless of the number of mediation sessions you’re going to. And your neighbour won’t need to pay for it.

Mediation is definitely cheaper and less draining than going to court. But if it doesn’t help solve the noise issue, the last resort would be to take your noisy neighbour to court.

6. Take your noisy neighbours to a tribunal

The Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals (CDRT) aim to help neighbours resolve difficult disputes after they’ve exhausted the community mediation option.

Although it’s not a must to go through mediation before filing a claim, doing so is highly encouraged. This is because the CDRT may order both parties to go for mediation before hearing the case.

Before you jump into filing a claim at the CDRT, take note that doing so will severely escalate the dispute between yourself and your neighbour as it brings the court processes into the fray.

At the same time, ensure that your dispute is within the jurisdiction of the CDRT. You can only file a claim with the CDRT if your neighbour:

  • Lives in the same building as you, or
  • Lives within a 100-metre radius of your home, and
  • Is not living in the same place of residence as you
Person drilling
Your neighbour shouldn’t be drilling between 10.30 pm and 7 am.

In addition, the CDRT only handles certain types of interferences, such as:

  • Causing excessive noise, smell, smoke, light or vibration
  • Littering at or near your home
  • Obstructing your home
  • Interfering with your movable property
  • Conducting surveillance on you or your home, where the surveillance is done at or near your home
  • Trespassing on your home
  • Allowing their pet to trespass on your home, cause excessive noise or smell, defecate or urinate at or near your home

CDRT court order

If found guilty, your neighbour will have to comply with the court order from CDRT.

Court order This means your neighbour has to:
Damages Pay you a sum of money of not more than $20,000
Injunction Stop doing something
Specific performance Do something
Apology Apologise to you
Disbursements Pay you out of pocket expenses that you may have incurred while pursuing your claim
Other order Follow any of the other court orders the CDRT makes

As with all court causes, bringing your noisy neighbour to court isn’t cheap. The filing fees alone can cost you at least S$150, which excludes the court hearing fees.

Given the high cost, lengthy process and potential of ruining your relationship with your neighbour, we recommend that you exhaust all informal avenues of resolution before finally bringing the matter to court.

7. Call the police and file a complaint 

While it’s best to resolve disputes amicably (without resorting to the courts or authorities), you should not stand for any type of harassment.

If you feel harassed by your noisy neighbours, you should call the police and keep your distance from them as far as possible. The police will come to record details of the situation, including the identities of the parties involved.

“Hallo, polis?”

On the other hand, noisy disturbances are considered a non-arrestable offence, which includes acts that cause harassment, alarm or distress. This includes generating excessive noise and causing disturbances to others.

Instead of making any arrests, the police may advise you to file a Magistrate’s Complaint if you wish to press charges against your neighbours.

The Magistrate will either mediate the matter or refer both you and your neighbour to a Court Mediator for further mediation.


Dealing with noisy neighbours can be frustrating and time-consuming, especially if your neighbours are unwilling to change their ways and see themselves as victims.

In such cases where all else fails, moving out just might be your last resort for you to recover some much-needed peace and quiet in your daily life.

Dealing with unwanted noise from your neighbours? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook post.

If you found this article helpful, check out Neighbour disputes and rows: what happens when things get heated and Loan shark harassment: 4 tell-tale signs when viewing HDB flats

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Reader Interactions


    • Alex

      It absolutely useless to file for CMC mediation, worse taking it to (CDRT) tribunal when you, as a complainant, you can’t choose the date which you will be available but also to act in concert with your defendant’s date of trials.

      After CMC it resolved but I will still have to call the police almost every night when they start retaliate, wake us up from our peaceful sleep.
      This is article on my case

      I am feeling hopeless but just create as much noises or even more without the help of authorities anymore.
      It seem like the law are making victim difficult to go through even CDRT as well even with my hundred over videos as evidences of the banging noise.

    • Jackie

      after searching and reading so many “solutions” online, honest speaking, is all useless pointers and a total waste of time readying it. calling the police is useless, they won’t even come, going to CMC, they can refuse to turn up.

      with the recent changes on the quiet hours, from “10.30pm to 7am” to “10pm to 8am”, and given the explanation that people need to do their stuff after work, and so 10 pm is the cut off time, that’s a total bullshit. there is a saying, a person whom follow the law & regulation, he or she could be an asshole in life, because that the basic requirement for a human being. and only animals can’t control their noise level, so let them be.

      lastly, the person who wrote the last advice of moving out, I agree with you totally. we are so fucking poor, therefore we deserved to live with animals.

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