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HDB Noisy Neighbours: How to File a Complaint and Stop Them for Good in Singapore (2022)

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HDB Noisy Neighbours: How to File a Complaint and Stop Them for Good in Singapore (2022)
On 7 January 2020, the Singapore court issued the first-ever Exclusion Order to ban a malicious noisy neighbour from returning to his own HDB flat in Bukit Panjang, after constantly and deliberately playing loud music to disturb a neighbour and breaching an earlier court order.
The Exclusion Order was issued by the Community Dispute Resolution Tribunal (CDRT) and was directed not just at the owner, but also to all occupants within the house, which in this case included the owner’s two grown children.
What’s shocking to some is that the dispute began more than two years ago in November 2017. While there is a process of escalation, many will no doubt think that this is too slow to endure a noisy neighbour, especially one as malicious as this Bukit Panjang troublemaker.
In fact, complaints regarding noisy neighbours increased by 25%, from 2,500 cases a month in 2020 to 3,200 cases a month in 2021. To tackle these complaints about noise pollution from inconsiderate neighbours complaints, the government has decided to set up an advisory panel to establish community guidelines on noisy neighbors.
The panel is currently conducting surveys with the public before giving their recommendation. In the meantime, should you face noisy neighbours and want to complain about noise pollution, here’s what you should do!

Should You Lodge an HDB Complaint About Noisy Neighbours?

If you’ve encountered neighbours who are constantly noisy after 11pm, chances are reaching out to HDB’s complaint hotline won’t bring any resolution to your noise problem.
There is an HDB feedback form on their site, but that’s more for sharing how you feel about HDB’s services, not your neighbours. HDB is a housing developer and neighbourly disputes are not within their purview.
That’s why even though these affected homeowners in Punggol looked to HDB, their resident’s committee, and even their MPs for help, they eventually moved out of their homes.
So if you can’t lodge a complaint about noise pollution to HDB, what should you do? Can you call the police for noise-related ‘offences’?

How Do You Deal With Noisy Neighbours in Singapore

There are several ways to deal with a noisy neighbour in your HDB flat, namely:
Solution to noisy neighboursHow useful we think it is
Call the police 4/5
Contact your grassroots leaders (GRLs) 2/5
Apply for mediation3.5/5
Take the dispute to court (Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal, or CDRT)4.5/5
However, success may vary depending on the nature of the disturbance and the offender’s psychological condition. For instance, a party of rowdy teenagers or tenants can be easily stopped, but dealing with a vengeful and/or deranged neighbour may be a little more difficult.
Regardless, here’s what you can do to stop a noisy neighbour, if talking to him/her doesn’t resolve the issue:

Noisy Neighbours Solution #1: Call the Police

Source: Google Maps
Usefulness Rating: 4/5
Most HDB owners’ reflex would be to give the police a ring. This is what the victim in the Bukit Panjang case initially did too.
Upon calling 999 and providing them with information such as the source of the disturbance, the police will usually show up within 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the location of your home. The police will ask for your name, your unit number, and contact details on the call, but what they will do when they arrive is to find the perpetrator and seek to resolve the issue. So, the complainant typically does not need to reveal his/her identity.
In certain cases, you may need to make a police report. The police might advise you to file a Magistrate’s Complaint, which can be done online if the neighbour’s act is considered to be acting against the law (e.g. causing harassment, alarm, or distress).
Pros: In Singapore, most people wouldn’t risk the wrath of the police. Hence, calling the police usually solves the loud neighbour problem. The key thing to note here is not to alert the offending neighbour by threatening to call the police so that the police can catch the perpetrator in the act, which will provide evidence in your favour should escalation be necessary.
Cons: Firstly, a neighbourly disturbance is a non-arrestable offence, which means no arrests will be made and you’ll need to file a Magistrate’s Complaint should you wish to press charges (please read the rest of the article for other possible remedies first). A drawback of calling the police is also provoking even more hostility if the offending neighbour is deranged, but this should not stop you from dialling 999.

Noisy Neighbours Solution #2: Contact Your Grassroots Leaders (GRLs)

Usefulness Rating: 2/5
Every block of flats has a grassroots leader assigned to assist residents with complaints. The GRLs will act as a mediator between the complainant and the alleged perpetrator.
Pros: If noise pollution is a recurring issue, it is worth approaching a GRL for help. A grassroots leader can act as a neutral third party to facilitate informal mediation between the both of you, making it easier to reach a solution with a neighbour you may no longer be on talking terms with.
Cons: Although GRLs are typically kind and helpful, they have no legal powers. A GRL may not have the influence necessary to improve the situation. Most likely, the offending neighbour would only stop if asked by a GRL if he/she is unaware of causing the disturbance or is willing and able to accommodate the request.

Noisy Neighbours Solution #3: Apply for Mediation

Usefulness Rating: 3.5/5
Conducted by the Community Mediation Centre (CMC), mediation is commonly the next step in resolving the issue. Mediation involves a trained neutral third-party called a mediator, who will facilitate a conversation between you and the noisy neighbours regarding the noise complaint.
Here’s how it works: During mediation, you and your neighbour get the chance to share their side of the story. This can be done with both of you in the same room or separately in private sessions. The mediator will guide both parties towards a solution that will be acceptable to both.
Once a mutually acceptable solution has been decided upon, both parties will sign a written agreement agreeing to abide by the solution.
Moreover, mediation between neighbours may be mandatory according to Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong.
Pros: Mediation is cheap. There is only a one-time $5 administrative fee, regardless of the number of mediation sessions. The fee will be paid for by the applicant (i.e. you), whereas the respondent (i.e. the noisy neighbour) does not need to pay.
Cons: The signed agreement is not legally binding. Noisy neighbours may choose to ignore the signed agreement and go back to his/her old ways. He/she could even choose not to attend the mediation. These actions of non-compliance, however, may be used as evidence against them if the case escalates.

How to Register for Mediation at the CMC:

  • Via enquiry line: You may call CMC’s enquiry line at 1800-CALL-LAW (1800-2255-529) from Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays), 8.30am to 5.00pm.
  • Online via SingPass: You can also register using your SingPass account.
  • Referral by an agency (such as by the Police): The police can make a mediation referral to the CMC.

Noisy Neighbours Solution #4: Take the Matter to Court

Usefulness Rating: 4.5/5
HDB and the authorities emphasise that taking the matter to court should be a last resort, but sometimes this could be the only way to force a noisy neighbour to quieten down if mediation has failed to yield a solution. Although, the judge may order that the parties undergo mediation first before hearing the case.
Disputes between neighbours that are brought to court take place at the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunal (CDRT), a specialised court that hears claims involving an “interference with enjoyment or use of place of residence” by a “neighbour”. The CDRT was the one that issued the Exclusion Order for the malicious noisy neighbour in the Bukit Panjang Case.
What this also means is that not all cases entitle you to escalate the case to the CDRT. The guidelines below, from Singaporelegaladvice.com, can help you determine if your case can be brought to the CDRT:

Who Is Considered My “Neighbour”?

  • Individuals in places of residence only (no businesses or workplaces);
  • Lives in the same building as you OR lives within a 100-metre radius of your home; and
  • Not living in the same place of residence as you

What Are Some Examples of “Interference”?

  • Causing excessive noise, smell, smoke, light or vibration
  • Littering at or in the vicinity of your home
  • Obstructing your home
  • Interfering with your movable property
  • Conducting surveillance on you or your home (such as installing CCTV cameras), where the surveillance is done at or in the vicinity of your home
  • Trespassing on your home
  • Allowing their pet to trespass on your home, to cause excessive noise or smell, or to defecate or urinate at or in the vicinity of your home

How to File a Claim at the CDRT

If your complaint against your inconsiderate neighbour does not fall within the above, you may file a Magistrate’s Complaint after making a police report.
Claims to the CDRT must be made online via the Community Justice and Tribunals System (CJTS). You’ll need to prepare supporting documents such as police reports, mediation agreements and media (e.g. photos and videos) supporting your claim.
Pros: The court’s judgment is legally binding. If the noisy neighbour flouts it, he/she might be held in breach of a court order (if one is issued) and be charged in the criminal court for the offence.
Cons: Going to the CDRT is much more expensive than mediation, but it is still cheaper than hiring a lawyer to sue your noisy neighbour. Here are some examples of the fees as cited by the State Courts of Singapore, correct as of the time of this article’s writing:
Steps to file a claim at CDRT
Fee in SGD
Filing the claim at the CDRT
$150
Filing the notice of appeal to the High Court
$600
In addition, the loud neighbour may also choose to appeal the CDRT’s judgment, prolonging your noise pollution situation, while taking more cash out of your wallet (at least before the court orders the neighbour to pay your fees).
Therefore, if you’re filing a legal claim as a last resort, you’ll need patience for due process (e.g. admin work and investigation) and some spare change.
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More FAQs About Dealing With Noisy Neighbours

It might sound frustrating, but the best way to make a successful complaint against your noisy HDB neighbour is still to follow a step-by-step process that first involves talking it out with your neighbour, before seeking intervention such as mediation to resolve the issue. One thing's for sure, in a densely populated urban jungle like Singapore, everyone should be considerate with regard to their neighbours and keep noise levels down between 10.30pm and 7.00am daily!

While you can make a complaint to HDB, you probably won't get much success. Remember that HDB is a housing developer and hence, neighbourly disputes are not within their purview. You can, however, call the police, apply for mediation or take the dispute to Court. 

Yes, you may. The police will seek to resolve the issue with your neighbour. However, note that neighbourly disturbance is a non-arrestable offence, which means no arrests will be made and you'll need to file a Magistrate's Complaint should you wish to press charges.

While neighbourly disturbance is a non-arrestable offence, the quiet hours are generally between 10.30pm and 7.00am.