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Case summaries and orders

The following case studies are provided as a guide for parties intending to file or respond to a neighbour dispute claim.

They aim to give parties an understanding of:

  • The types of cases the Community Dispute Resolution Tribunals (CDRT) can hear.
  • The types of court orders the CDRT can make.
  • The considerations that shape the outcome of the hearings.

The facts and circumstances of each case will vary and the details of each case are generalised to ensure confidentiality.

Cases resolved through mediation

Mediation helps to preserve good neighbourly relations. At any point during the proceedings, the CDRT can order parties in a neighbour dispute claim to attend counselling or mediation.

Note
The party who filed the neighbour dispute claim is the plaintiff and the party against whom the claim was filed is the respondent.

If the dispute is settled, parties may sign a settlement agreement, after which the plaintiff will withdraw the claim. Alternatively, parties may request the CDRT to record the settlement terms into a consent order.

The following cases show how parties can reach an agreement despite the issues they faced. The mediated solutions help to preserve good neighbourly relations.

These consent orders made aim to:

  • Show how the concerns of both parties may be addressed.
  • Serve as a guide for parties to consider how to resolve similar neighbourhood disputes.
This case involves a neighbour causing excessive noise.

Case details

These are the details of the case:

  • The plaintiff’s flat is directly above the respondent’s flat in an HDB block.
  • The plaintiff alleged that the respondent created excessive noise whenever the respondent's family members used their karaoke machine.
  • As a result of the ongoing dispute, the respondent scolded the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s family members with vulgarities and abusive words.
  • The respondent also intentionally left his main door and windows open while using the karaoke machine in order to antagonise the plaintiff.

Consent order

The consent order was entered as follows:

  • The respondent shall ensure that whenever he or any of the occupants of his flat use the karaoke machine, all windows and doors in the flat will be closed completely in order to reduce the amount of sound that escapes the flat.
  • The respondent shall not use the karaoke machine in the periods that the occupants of the plaintiff’s flat are having exams, provided that the plaintiff or any of the occupants of her flat informs the respondent in-person of the said exam periods.
  • The respondent and the plaintiff, as well as their family members, shall not approach each other, except for the plaintiff to inform the respondent of the exam periods.
  • The respondent and the plaintiff, as well as their family members, shall not stare at each other in the event that they meet each other.
  • The respondent and the plaintiff, as well as their family members, shall not make any abusive or insulting comments and sounds at each other.
  • The respondent and the plaintiff, as well as their family members, shall not use any abusive or insulting gestures or behaviour at each other.
This case involves littering at or in a neighbour’s residence and surveillance of a neighbour or neighbour’s residence.

Case details

These are the details of the case:

  • The plaintiff and respondent are neighbours in adjacent units of a private condominium. The common corridor on the 3rd floor branches out to two staircases leading to the plaintiff’s unit and the respondent’s unit.
  • There is a staircase landing in front of the main door of each unit. The plaintiff and the respondent admitted that the staircase landing and staircases constitute common property.
  • The plaintiff alleged that the respondent and his family members caused the plaintiff unreasonable interference by:
    • Dusting their floor mat, brushing their dirty shoes and throwing dust and other items onto the common corridor and common staircases.
    • Placing mothballs at the staircase landing outside the main door of the respondent’s unit which the plaintiff considered to be a health hazard.
    • Using insulting or rude comments and gestures towards the plaintiff.
  • The respondent alleged that the plaintiff has done the following:
    • Record on a regular basis the movements of the respondent and his family members using a CCTV camera which is focused on the staircase leading to the respondent’s unit and the staircase landing outside the main door of the respondent’s unit.
    • Use a mobile phone to record him and his family members at the common areas of condominium and at his workplace.

Consent order

The consent order was entered as follows:

  • The respondent and their family members shall not deposit or throw on the common property of the condominium any rubbish, dirt, dust, or other material or discarded item.
    • In particular, the respondent and his family members shall not hang any floor mat on any part of the railing outside their unit.
    • They shall also not dust their shoes or throw any item in or around the staircase landing outside the main door of the unit and the staircases and common corridors around or leading to their unit and the plaintiff’s unit.
  • The respondent shall ensure that all mothballs at the staircase landing outside the main door of his unit are removed within 3 working days after the making of the order.
  • The plaintiff shall not focus the CCTV camera at the main door of the respondent’s unit, the staircase landing outside the respondent’s unit or the staircase leading to the respondent’s unit.
    • The plaintiff shall focus the CCTV camera at the staircase landing outside the main door of the plaintiff’s unit and the top half of the staircase leading to the plaintiff’s unit.
  • On the understanding that the respondent and his family members abide by the terms of the consent order, the plaintiff shall cease the taking of any photographs or videos of the respondent or any of his family members, whether in or outside the condominium.
  • The plaintiff and the respondent (and their family members) shall not engage in any physical encounters with each other if they should coincidentally meet each other in the common areas of the condominium.
  • The plaintiff and the respondent (and their family members) shall not use any threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour against each other or within the hearing of each other.
  • The plaintiff and the respondent (and their family members) shall not approach the staircase landing outside the main door of each other’s apartment, except in times of an emergency.
  • The respondent (and his family members) shall not throw anything into the plaintiff’s unit.
This case involves littering at or in a neighbour’s residence and interfering with a neighbour’s movable property.

Case details

These are the details of the case:

  • The plaintiff and the respondent live in flats located along the same common corridor.
  • The respondent who was diagnosed with schizophrenia lived with his two children.
  • While the respondent’s children were at work and the respondent was home alone, he repeatedly threw food items, food waste, food wrappers, incense ash, unknown liquids, crushed newspapers and other objects along the common corridor outside the plaintiff’s flat and at the gate and door of the plaintiff’s flat.
  • The respondent also used objects such as umbrellas and scissors to hit the windows, gate and main door of the plaintiff’s flat, causing some minor damage.
  • The respondent repeatedly loitered along the common corridor outside the plaintiff’s flat and scolded, cursed and made highly abusive or insulting comments about the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s family in a very loud voice.
  • The respondent stalked the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s family members.
  • The respondent had to be represented in the proceedings by one of his children due to his psychiatric condition.

Consent order

The consent order was entered as follows:

  • The respondent is prohibited from stopping along the common corridor outside the plaintiff’s flat with the intention of irritating, provoking or disturbing the plaintiff or the residents in the plaintiff’s flat.
  • The respondent is prohibited from talking loudly or making noises along the common corridor outside the plaintiff’s flat with the intention of irritating, provoking or disturbing the plaintiff or the residents in the plaintiff’s flat.
  • The respondent is prohibited from throwing food, food particles, food wrappers, dust, dirt or any other article or thing at, into or outside the plaintiff’s flat.
  • The respondent is prohibited from interfering with the plaintiff’s flat, including using his hand, body, objects or any other means to hit the gate, doors, windows or walls of the plaintiff’s flat, spraying or throwing water or any other substance onto the gate, doors, windows or walls of the plaintiff’s flat and kicking objects (including footwear belonging to the plaintiff’s neighbours) along the common corridor in front of the plaintiff’s flat.
  • The respondent is prohibited from interfering with any movable property belonging to the plaintiff or the residents in the plaintiff’s flat that is placed at or in the vicinity of the plaintiff’s flat, including the common corridor outside the plaintiff’s flat.
  • The plaintiff and the respondent (and the residents of their flats) are prohibited from approaching each other.
  • The plaintiff and the respondent (and the residents of their flats) are prohibited from using any threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour against each other.

Cases where the court makes an order

If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute through mediation and agree to a consent order, the court will proceed to fix a hearing date for the case and make orders based on the facts of the case.

This case involves obstructing a neighbour’s place of residence.

Case details

These are the details of the case:

  • The plaintiff and the respondent are neighbours living in adjacent units in an HDB block.
    • The respondent’s flat is a corner unit, while the plaintiff’s flat is on the left of the respondent’s flat.
    • There is a sliding window (belonging to the plaintiff’s flat) between the main entrance of the respondent’s flat and the main entrance of the plaintiff’s flat.
  • The respondent placed a metal shoe rack, a red metal incense burner, a bicycle and some other miscellaneous items under the plaintiff’s sliding window.
  • After the plaintiff sought the Town Council’s assistance, the Town Council officer instructed the respondent to remove the bicycle, which he did.
  • According to the plaintiff and the respondent, the Town Council told the respondent that he could continue placing the metal shoe rack below the plaintiff’s window.
  • During court proceedings, the plaintiff and the respondent did not exhibit any written permission from the Town Council to that effect.
  • The plaintiff sought an order for the respondent to remove all items at the common corridor, in particular, the items below the plaintiff’s window.

Tribunal order

After hearing both parties, a tribunal order was made against the respondent to remove all the respondent’s items in the corridor outside the plaintiff's flat.

The grounds for the order are as follows:

  • The items placed outside the plaintiff’s flat interfered with the plaintiff’s enjoyment of her premises, when the plaintiff goes in and out of her flat and when the plaintiff opens her window.
    • The items also prevented the plaintiff from cleaning her windows and surroundings.
  • Each flat owner has the right to the space inside the flat but not outside the flat where the common corridor is located. The common corridor falls under the purview of the Town Council.
    • In this case, there was a Town Council By-Law that stated that no one shall obstruct or cause or permit the obstruction of the lawful use of the common property with any object, fixture or thing.
  • The respondent was at liberty to keep the shoe rack inside the respondent’s flat.
  • The plaintiff requested for, and the respondent was ordered to pay, the disbursements for the CDRT filing fees and IRAS search fee to obtain the respondent’s name to file the claim.
This case involves a neighbour causing excessive noise.

Case details

These are the details of the case:

  • The plaintiff’s flat was directly below the respondent’s flat. The plaintiff alleged that the respondent made excessive noises which were described as heavy running, stomping and thumping, dragging of furniture and dropping of items onto the floor.
  • The occurrence of the noises coincided with the presence of the respondent’s two year old granddaughter, for whom the respondent was the main caregiver while the girl’s parents were at work.
  • The respondent’s case was that any noises that might have been generated were reasonable noises associated with the movements and activities of a young child in a home setting.
  • As the parties could not settle the dispute through mediation, the case proceeded to a hearing.

Tribunal order

After hearing both parties, the plaintiff’s claim was dismissed as he had not proven on a balance of probabilities that:

  • The noises that he had been hearing in his flat had originated from the respondent’s flat alone.
  • The respondent or her family members had caused the noises intentionally, recklessly or negligently.

There was also no evidence to suggest that:

  • The noises were excessive in that they exceeded household noises or lifestyle noises that are generated through ordinary instances of daily living that can be expected to be tolerated by reasonable persons living in Singapore.
  • The noises caused unreasonable interference to the plaintiff’s use or enjoyment of his flat.
This case involves a neighbour causing excessive noise.

Case details

These are the details of the case:

  • The plaintiff’s flat was directly below the respondent’s flat. The plaintiff alleged that every morning from about 6.45 am to 8.15 am, she would hear noises from the respondent’s flat, including slamming of the door, sliding and slamming of the window grilles, sounds of footwear and sounds of dragging of furniture in the living room.
  • At the first Pre-trial Conference (PTC), the court was informed that the respondent lived with her uncle and elderly aunts and that all the ladies wore slippers at home to protect their feet against the coldness of the floor.
  • The court was also informed that the uncle and elderly aunts woke up early every morning, which coincided with the period that the plaintiff heard the noises.
  • The elderly aunts also did their laundry and hung them out to dry at about 6–7 am. In addition, the sliding aluminium window grilles were more than 15 years old.

Outcome of the case

The court explored with the respondent what the possible causes of the noises were and how they could be remedied. The respondent agreed to do the following:

  • Explore alternative footwear for herself and her aunts.
  • Replace the stoppers at the base of all the dining chairs in the flat with those that were of softer material and provided more cushioning.
  • Advise her aunts to do the laundry and hang out the laundry at a later time.

When parties returned for the second PTC, the plaintiff informed the court that the footwear noises had totally disappeared and the noise from the dragging of furniture had reduced, although the noise from the sliding of the window grilles was still present.

The respondent agreed to purchase lubricant for the window grilles to reduce the friction whenever they were opened or closed. As a result of the improvement to the noises and in the spirit of good neighbourliness, the plaintiff withdrew the claim.

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

Refer to the Guide to Neighbour Dispute Claims (PDF, 4099 KB).
2021/07/23

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