Noisy Neighbours

Block of flatsThis mediation case was referred to us by a local estate management officer and involved two parties living above and below each other in a social housing block. Both complained of banging, one from the neighbour banging on the floor and the other from banging back on the ceiling. There were also complaints of loud TV and music being played. Things had broken down between them which had resulted in some verbal abuse and name calling.

Two Mediators were allocated to the case and arranged initial visits to them both. At the first visit Mrs H was nervous, anxious and angry and could easily discuss the issues that she was having. She was open to the mediation process, understood the implications, and wanted to meet her neighbours so that they could sort it out since she believed that her neighbour was probably open to making things better.

Mediators then visited Ms P who welcomed mediators nervously into her flat. She was also anxious and rather timid. At first she said she had no issues with her neighbour; and that it was all as a result of misunderstandings. She told mediators that her neighbour had been warm and welcoming when she had first moved in and they had been on reasonable terms. As the meeting progressed she began to relate incidents that had occurred when she admitted she had been angry, aggressive and noisy and she then remembered occasions when the neighbour had upset her when she had felt threatened. However, unlike her neighbour, she was adamant she did not want to participate in a joint meeting, since she didn’t believe it could make a difference however when her boyfriend joined her, he was able to hold a mirror up to some of his girlfriend’s behaviour and urged her to take part in the process. She listened to him and agreed so a date and time was arranged at a local nearby venue.

Mrs H arrived at the meeting and settled in and, though very nervous as before, appeared determined and resolute. The other neighbour arrived and took everyone by surprise by being very assertive. She told her neighbour she felt it was her fault, she was really, really sorry, she liked her neighbour and was upset to think that she’d made her angry and unhappy and that she would change her behaviour. She had no complaints whatsoever relating to Mrs H. Mrs H accepted her apologies, was ready to contribute to a written agreement. However mediators felt that from the initial visits, there was other things that needed discussing, so after issues had been explored, questions asked, explanations given, feelings shared and, most importantly, individual circumstances an agreement was made which was worthy of sticking. The meeting helped to redress the perceived imbalance of power in a supportive climate so that both women’s voices were able o be heard.

Both women came away after seeing each other and were both able to see the humanity in the other recognising that there is usually more that binds us than tears us apart! Both ladies went home together with greater understanding and with a desire to sustain the new view they had of each other forged by a recognition of their common experience.

CONTACT
Julie Cox, Service Manager. Tel: 0117 9415379 / 07534 188396 or E-mail: casework@bristol-mediation.org / info@bristol-mediation.org