Angry letter to neighbour with noisy disabled son divides community

Is the neighbour taking things too far by contacting the police and council? Source: Getty

A Brisbane mother has taken to Facebook with an angry letter a neighbour left her that complains about the noise her son makes in the neighbourhood.

Magenta Quinn shared the note from an anonymous member of the community, starting a heated debate about who is right and who is wrong in this particular situation. It’s certainly not an easy one to give a definitive answer on, given that it’s easy to sympathise with all parties involved.

On one hand, we all know how disturbing noisy neighbours can be, and every resident does have a right to the peaceful enjoyment of their own property. But on the other hand, the mother in this situation is clearly already struggling with a difficult situation, to which she may not be easily able to find a good solution.

The letter sent to Magenta read:

“When you moved in we heard these strange moaning and shouting coming from your garden every day and night, for which we were concerned may be illegal activities, so we contacted the police who in turn have visited your premises. They informed us of your situation that a person in your family is suffering from a mental health illness and that was the source of the noise.

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Whilst I sympathise with your situation it is a very disturbing noise that comes from your garden continuously, every day, sometimes late into the night. It is not fair on the community to have to bear this disturbance especially as it occurs daily.

I would kindly request that you consider your neighbours and try to limit the amount of time that is spent in the garden such that we do not have to listen to the disturbing noise daily and sometimes before 6am. I am giving you the opportunity to help us live together in this community without it becoming a constant battle. If this continues at the regular intervals it has been, I intend to make formal complaints against your address to council to help resolve this issue.”

Understandably, the neighbour in question is angry because the noise is keeping them awake and disturbing them. They’re paying rent or a mortgage, so it raises a question as to whether they’re entitled to some peace and quiet, no matter where the noise is coming from. Most people would contact the police if a neighbour was playing loud music or being noisy of an evening, so is this situation any different? 

Magenta, who has been caring for her disabled son for 17 years, says that it is. She believes demanding that asking a person with a disability to stop doing something that’s natural to them – in this case, making what Magenta described to the ABC as humming and yelping noises – is akin to bullying.

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Taking to Facebook, she wrote: “While I appreciate the odd noises of a mentally ill person can be disturbing, I can guarantee that you have no clue when compared to living with it 24/7 for 17 years … Having three police turn up at my doorstep at 10:30 at night when I’m new to the area may have made you feel you are avoiding confrontation, but for me it was alarming to say the least.

“Talking to the council won’t help, he’s not a dog, it’s a person. If you’d like to take him on a holiday so I can get some rest that would be awesome. Otherwise, please feel free to come and chat with me, there’s a lot you do not understand.”

She did also admit to the ABC that her son did sometimes make a noise outside as late as 10pm or as early as 5am, but suggested her neighbours should buy some earplugs or close their windows to block out the sound.

Members of the 4074 Community and Beyond Facebook page, where the post was originally shared, had plenty to say on the matter.

One person wrote of the letter-writing complainer: “Oh dear god. I can’t believe that someone would be so selfish, judgemental and downright inhumane. I don’t know either of you, but I do know many parents who have children with special needs. Hats off to you for replying in this way. I am so disgusted that someone can actually think that letter is ok…in any way. That’s not ok!”

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Another disagreed, however, saying: “Keep the child inside until a decent hour. If you don’t want the other children to wake up buy THEM earplugs. Your neighbours deserve to get a night’s sleep. It’s not their child it’s yours so deal until at least 7am. I’m sure that the noise the rest of the day is enough to tolerate. And unless you have lived next door to a constantly screaming person you don’t know how difficult it is.”

The letter has since gone viral and has gained attention from some of the biggest news outlets and breakfast shows in the country.

Where do you sit on the debate? Does the mother of the disabled son need to be more considerate of the noise he makes, or was the neighbour completely insensitive of the situation? What would you do in the situation?