Pattaya Legal Corner: Neighbor squabbles are always bad news


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Q: What can I do about noisy neighbors?
From time to time, Thai lawyers do get complaints about neighbors playing loud music in the middle of the night or noisily mowing the lawn before dawn. Occasionally you might overlook the problem, but it can be both persistent and consistent. There is no single answer.

To begin with, it’s best to make a complaint directly to the household whilst making sure you are polite. If possible, take a witness and make a written record of the time and date. If you live in an area with a village leader, then report to him (or her) and request a quiet word be passed on. Try to collect evidence such as a video or photos, even the result reading of a decibel meter even if you have to buy one.

In Pattaya, you might (if your approach was unsuccessful) consider an approach to the juristic person (if you live in a condo) a lawyer’s letter asking for improved behaviour, a phone call to 1337 which is the all purpose City Hall number. If you have evidence, they might send round a local authority inspector or cop to look into the matter. But that depends on the specifics and your attitude. The issue of neighbor squabbles can be both difficult and protracted, but the important thing is a step by step approach.

If all this can’t resolve the situation, you can take a civil action against the noise maker. This may take a long time, will certainly cost you and can only be considered if there is a breakdown in communication between the parties. You will need a dossier of everything you did beforehand and a dossier of your evidence.

The judge may make an order for a specific sum of money in damages. If the guilty partner refuses to pay, you will need to go to the offices of the government agency known as “legal execution” which can take action such as taking property which is legally owned by the individual with a judgment against him in the civil court. You cannot act on your own.

Rarely do neighbor squabbles reach this stage. We recommend an informal approach at first, bringing in third parties if necessary. Never lose your temper and keep detailed notes and evidence. In any case, maybe the inconsiderate neighbor will move house. If you have this problem, best of luck!

Q: I recently received a monthly water bill for a ridiculous 5,550 baht, so what can I do?
This problem tends to occur in older properties where the meter is broken in some way or where an underground pipe has broken in your immediate vicinity. Either way round, you will need to contact the water authority and pay the amount specified. Until you do that, the officials will not become involved other than by cutting off your supply altogether for non-payment.

After that, the inspector will check the meter and replace it if it is faulty. If the problem is an underground leaking pipe, you will likely be charged for repair if the seepage is technically on your property, but you can argue the toss on that one. If the leak is outside, then you won’t be charged for the labour and parts. Incidentally, I know of a recent case where the huge water bill was created by a faulty inside toilet which kept refilling and emptying water every couple of minutes for a whole week. Sadly the property owners were away.