Neighbor disputes – what to do in case of trouble with the tenants next door?


Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to live in a harmonious neighborhood. Again and again one hears of escalating neighbor disputes that drag on for years. How to defend yourself and enforce your rights.

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Communication as the first measure

No matter if the neighbor makes noise, dirties the staircase or chain smokes on the balcony. Communication is always recommended as the first measure in the event of neighborly disputes. Often the problem can be solved by a friendly conversation. You should make it clear to the neighbors in a polite and unmistakable way how much your behavior disturbs them. If one calls the police directly or threatens with legal measures, the readiness for a peaceful solution is usually no longer given.

Noise and disturbance

Some people have a great passion: DIY. Gladly from morning to night. Sometimes quite heavy equipment such as a compressor is used. Much to the delight of the neighbors. Among other things, the house rules determine when quiet times are. From state to state there are different regulations. Usually the quiet hours are from 13 to 15 and 22 to 7 o’clock. If there is noise even during these times, the tenant should make a noise log with the date, time and type of noise. Based on the noise log, he can complain to the landlord or. complain to the property management.

Alternatively, the police or the public order office can be called in. If all this does not help, a tenant has the possibility to reduce the rent. At the latest then a landlord will intervene.

Constant smoking

In recent years, case law has increasingly recognized smoking as a nuisance. For example, the German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has ruled that smoking on the balcony may be prohibited if it significantly affects the neighbor. A smoky apartment may also not be ventilated through the front door to the stairwell.

Tenants who feel disturbed by the smoker next door are entitled to smoke-free periods for specific periods of time according to a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice.

Dirt, garbage and junk

If the stairwell has been heavily soiled by the neighbor, the landlord or property management should be notified. Here, too, a reduction in rent is possible. Junk may not be placed in the stairwell, as it must be kept clear as an escape route. The rent can also be reduced if the neighbor drops garbage on someone else’s balcony or feeds birds that contaminate the neighbor’s balcony.

Odor nuisance

If the smell of garbage, urine or feces emanates from the neighboring apartment or the fumes from a large kitchen, this disturbs the peace of the house and leads to neighbor disputes. This is what you need to prove to the landlord. The duration, frequency and intensity of the smell should be described as precisely as possible. One can set a deadline for the landlord to remove the disturbance. If nothing happens, the tenant can hire an odor expert and charge the landlord for his costs or reduce the rent.


Barbecuing is also often perceived as a nuisance, but is generally not prohibited on the balcony, unless the lease contains a provision or a prohibition. However, the neighbor is not allowed to barbecue permanently. According to current case law, barbecuing on balconies or terraces of apartment buildings is permitted once (Bonn District Court) or twice (Aachen Regional Court) a month from April to September. Other courts have still had a different opinion.

If you rent an apartment and want to barbecue in the garden or on the balcony, it is better to read the rental agreement first. If the barbecue is not forbidden there, nothing stands in the way of the barbecue, if it does not bother the neighbors with smoke.

Prove disturbances

Especially if you want to reduce the rent as a tenant, you must be able to prove the disturbance. If you are the only tenant who feels disturbed, it is one word against the other. Only a noise report, for example, would not be sufficient in this case. Those who cannot name neutral witnesses have the option of hiring a private investigator. The latter is considered unbiased, neutral and can therefore make a conclusive statement.

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