Skip to main content
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Access every election story that matters
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

The question

We got some new neighbours next to us recently and they have installed a TV in their backyard and they’re constantly watching it outside. The TV seems to be on constantly (especially in the evening) and it’s becoming annoying. I can tell the volume is not loud and they’re probably trying to keep it down but it’s still driving me crazy. We now have to listen to whatever they’re watching when we’re outside and sometimes we can even hear it when we’re inside our house. I work from home, long hours in front of a computer and various conference calls and the reason I go outside is to be able to relax. We want to be good neighbours but we also like to have some sort of privacy and quiet time in our backyard. Should we talk to them?

The answer

Short answer: Yes.

It’s funny, I’ve noticed, over the years, I’ve received more queries on family- and neighbour-based friction than any other type of question.

Story continues below advertisement

Which makes sense, really, when you think about it. Friends, you can choose. Family and neighbours, you’re stuck with.

People move in next door. Maybe they’re not so wonderful. What are you going to do?

Just for the record I want to say my family and I personally have lovely neighbours. We are attempting to sell our house at the moment and I fully feel like that should be part of the sales package: “High ceilings, hardwood floors, new furnace, two fireplaces – and great neighbours! Really a lot of fun! Helpful and friendly!”

In your case I would definitely take the bull by the horns. Ethically and morally, you are certainly entitled to enjoyment of your property.

Not to mention financially! And part of what you’re paying for is the right to a little peace and quiet after a tough day.

You know the saying: “Your right to swing your fist ends at the point where it strikes my nose”? I’ve always felt the same way about noise. Even music blasting from a passing car with windows open feels unfair to me.

Everywhere one goes these days, everyone freely treats you to their taste in music, blasting out of their cars or backyards; their opinions as they loudly talk on their cellphones; and so forth.

Story continues below advertisement

People emit noise. It seems to be what we do, especially nowadays.

But there is great virtue in silence. According to the Desert Fathers (early Christian hermits): “Just as if you leave open the door of the public baths the steam escapes and the virtue is lost, so the virtue of the person who talks a lot escapes the open doors of the voice. This is why silence is a good thing.”

Time to convince your neighbour of the virtue of silence – in this case not vis-à-vis talking too much or too loudly or cranking music but vis-à-vis watching TV in the backyard.

Politely, of course. Last thing you want, last thing anyone needs, especially these days, is to go to war with neighbours.

Maybe be blunt but not too blunt. Why not say something like what you’re saying to me: “Listen, my backyard is to me an oasis, an escape from a tough day, and your TV watching is an assault on my peace and quiet.”

Well, maybe use a different word than “assault.” Maybe just something like: “Do you think you could watch your TV inside?” (Allowing yourself the thought balloon, not to be uttered aloud: “Like most normal people?”)

Story continues below advertisement

If you want to gild the lily a bit: “I come out here to meditate, and I can’t concentrate with your TV on.”

One hopes your neighbour will see reason and take the TV inside.

If not, well, you better write me back.

Are you in a sticky situation? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com. Please keep your submissions to 150 words and include a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

Sign up for the weekly Parenting & Relationships newsletter for news and advice to help you be a better parent, partner, friend, family member or colleague.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies