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Thursday November 12, 2009

Nightmare neighbours make life a living hell

MOVING into a new house should be reason to celebrate, that is, until we discover that the neighbours from hell live right next door.

While we all hope for helpful and friendly neighbours but there are enough horror stories out there about people who are just the opposite.

Yen* has lived in Taman Ehsan, Kepong, for more than 30 years and only started having problems with her neighbour about two years ago.

According to her, the nightmare began when the owner of the property rented it out to some foreigners.

“Sometimes during weekends before 9am, they would start singing karaoke and blast the music loud, even though most of us would still be bleary-eyed with sleep,” Yen said.

Stuck: A common complaint is about neighbours who park indiscriminately and block access to a driveway. — StarGraphic by Salleh

She added that the ladies talked very loudly during the day and she could hear them through the walls when she returned from work.

“There are five or six of them who worked as tailors but they moved out recently and a new batch of workers moved in.

“The new group is not that bad, although we can still hear them talking,” Yen, 43, said adding that she would approach their employer if the noise became unbearable.

Alice Chow* stays in a middle-class condominium in Kota Damansara and said a group of foreign students had caused headaches to residents there.

“They have parties until the wee hours of the morning and they make a lot of noise having no consideration for the neighbours.

“These foreigners are also quite burly, so the residents do get intimidated,” Chow, 32, said.

As she could not bear it any longer, she called in the security guards to intervene.

When they did, the noise subsided but the group still parties once in a while.

“Many residents here consist of young families with children, so people try not to complain too much out of fear that we might be marked.

“Even my husband worries about me whenever he’s outstation,” she said, adding that as the unit owner, she had a right to voice her grouses since the students were only tenants.

Another gripe she had was the nightly chilli-pounding noises that could be heard between 3am and 4am.

Subang Jaya resident Emily Chua* has some grievances with her next door neighbours whom she said intrude into her parking boundary while their own car porch is left empty because they are too lazy to drive in and out of the house.

“Many a time, I have had difficulty reversing my car out of my compound as they partially block the entrance.

Party central: Neighbours who blast loud music until the wee hours are another cause for concern.

“We have had quarrels over this and I had to resort to calling the police.

She added that they were dirty too, leaving junk mail and uncollected newspapers on the gate until it overflowed out of the letterbox and into her house.

Petaling Jaya Section 14 resident Felix* said that pets could also be a problem.

According to him, his neighbour’s maid does not pick up the poo after the dogs defecate in front of his house.

“We end up cleaning the poo. I have approached the maid before about this but she denied it was her dogs doing,” he said.

Illegal renovations are also a bane to many, especially in cases where the neighbours disregard the law.

In a recent case, a couple in Bukit Rimau, Shah Alam, had to take their neighbour to court.

They won a landmark case against the neighbour who was found to be carrying out renovations without complying to the approval given by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA).

Social anthropologist Dr Sarjit S Gill, who is also the head of the Social and Development Sciences Department, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Faculty of Human Ecology, thinks these cases are partly due to attitude and partly to identity crisis.

“Living in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods, we must be respectful and sensitive to other people’s cultures,” said Dr Sarjit.

“We should also try talking nicely to the problematic neighbour, because most of the time, no one has told the person that he is doing something wrong.

“If we want to lodge a complaint, we must also have evidence, and it would be advisable to inform the residents’ association (RA) or Rukun Tetangga (RT) to find out if others also have a problem with this person,” he said.

“When we move into a new area, we should visit our neighbours and get to know them,” Dr Sarjit said.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) representatives said that residents with problematic neighbours could lodge complaints with the respective DBKL branch offices located at the 11 parliamentary constituencies.

An officer would check on the complaint and advise accordingly depending on the nature of complaint.

Residents with personal complaints will be advised to refer to their respective RAs.

Representatives from other local councils said it was not easy for them to intervene but said they would act as intermediaries to seek a beneficial solution.

(* All names have been changed to protect the interviewees’ identity).

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