Incessant barking dogs can be the most infuriating neighbourly issue with seemingly no solution. Check out these handy rules and restrictions to help keep the peace in your neighbourhood, and create a calm environment for your toddler’s (or your) afternoon nap.
Barking is annoying, but is it illegal?
You know even the cutest little pups bark but there’s only so much yapping a person can handle. The law says “if a neighbour’s dog or cat causes a nuisance, you may be able to complain.” While that sounds pretty vague, luckily for you, the law even defines nuisance.
“Noise, such as barking, will only be considered a nuisance if it is persistent and continues to such an extent that it disrupts your peace, comfort or convenience.”
Yapping when a group of kids walks by their yard is one thing, but constant yapping when you’re putting your little one down for a nap can really disrupt your peace and comfort. It’s not wrong to speak up, but it’s important to go about it the right way.
Don’t be the nasty neighbour – do your part first
Nasty neighbours are the worst. You know the kind? The people who phone the council over every issue rather than knocking on your door to discuss it first. When it comes to pesky pets next door though, legally, you must speak to your neighbour first. It’s handy to chat to other neighbours and see if they’re affected too, as it will make your plea more meaningful.
Consider this: The owner may not realise the barking is annoying anyone. While you may roll your eyes in disbelief, there are a few reasons why this may actually be true.
- The dog only barks when the owner isn’t home
- The owner doesn’t hear the barking from inside their own home
If you feel unsafe discussing the issue with your neighbour, you can try a friendly handwritten letter instead, starting off with an amicable interaction rather than an icy one. You know the saying about honey and flies.
Mediation might be needed
If your neighbour doesn’t take any action though, it may be time to involve a third party such as a mediation service. Australian cities have a Dispute Settlement Centre, which is an affordable way to have the matter mediated fairly. This is your last option before involving the council, which takes time and energy, and must be done according to the Domestic Animals Act 1994.
Understanding the Domestic Animals Act 1994
Before you get the council involved, make sure you understand the legal pathway. The act says ‘a dog or cat can be regarded as a nuisance if the animal creates a noise that persistently or continuously disturbs a neighbour. Barking dogs can also be considered unreasonable noise under Section 48A of the EP Act.’
Once you have the council involved, to create any change, they’ll need to get a court order. Since going to court is fairly expensive for you, the council will only recommend you take the issue to court if:
- It’s fully established that you have a case
All other avenues of reconciliation have been exhausted
This second point means the council has worked with the pet owner to resolve the issue, but it’s still disrupting your life. At this point the issue will have lasted a number of weeks or even months and you’re probably pulling your hair out, desperate for peace and quiet.
Preparing for court
If your brain is rattled and you can’t bear the yapping anymore, you can take the issue to court by providing as much evidence as possible of the dog’s deafening roar. You’ll need to have kept a ‘barking’ diary over at least two week initially, then for another month to see the results if your neighbour has taken any action.
Your diary should include the date, time, weather conditions, direction of barking, and the effect the barking is having on you.
Hopefully, chatting to your neighbour will help restore calm to your neighbourhood, and if not, a brief visit to a mediation service should. If you need to involve the council, keep it as factual as possible to keep the neighbourhood friendly. If all else fails, it may be time to move.
- Article provided by Rose Lawyers and Conveyancers. From business to family law, their legal experts make complicated decisions easy to understand.