How to deal with a neighbour dispute

04/07/2019

A Neighbour Dispute can occur when neighbours disagree about something that is causing distress and frustration to either party.  Disputes with neighbours occur frequently and range from issues with boundaries, to noise, trees, parking, mess and even anti-social behaviour. 

It’s important to understand the different types of antisocial behaviour, how to deal with them and when to seek professional legal advice.

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Sanders Witherspoon LLP have expert lawyers who can help you overcome whatever issues you may have.  Whether you require a fixed fee interview to understand your legal position, or whether you need us to take things further, we can assist.  Sometimes a simple letter will suffice, and we are always mindful of how to resolve matters in a cost-effective manner.

Common types of neighbour dispute include:

  • Persistent noise including loud TV, radio or noisy pets
  • Disputes about boundaries
  • Parking space disputes
  • Antisocial behaviour

How to resolve a neighbour dispute yourself

Talking to your neighbour

In order to cut down on further stress, frustration or legal costs, it’s always a good idea to try and discuss the problem with your neighbour. If you feel intimidated talking to your neighbour you could try writing them a letter that clearly states the problem or problems and makes the facts clear. 

In instances where your neighbour is renting the property from a landlord you can communicate with the landlord in question. 

Make a complaint

Third parties may be able to help, depending on the issue.  The police, environmental agency and local authority may need to be contacted.

In instances where you feel the dispute is causing damage to your health such as noise, artificial light, dust, smell, smoke fumes, gases  or build up of rubbish, your council has a duty to investigate in most cases. 

You should call the police if your neighbour has turned violent or is threatening or abusive in anyway. If you feel you’re being harassed on the grounds of sexuality or religion or you feel that your neighbour is breaking the law in any other way, you should also call the police where possible.

Gov.uk has National information on how to resolve a dispute with your neighbour 

Make notes and keep records just in case you need to take things further, this will include the nature of the incident and a time that it happened. If safe to do so you could also take photos, for example vandalism, anti-social behaviour or signs of damage to your property.

Using mediation

Mediation can often be a useful way of handling neighbour disputes, but this does require the co-operation of your neighbour which isn’t always present. If you can’t resolve the dispute through discussing the problems with your neighbour, you can seek help from a mediation service. This involves an impartial party who is specially trained to deal with negotiations between two opposing parties.

Litigation

Occasionally, it is necessary to take neighbour disputes further by way of litigation.  Speak to a specialist dispute solicitor who should be clear on the advice as to whether litigation is the right thing to do.  If it is, they should have the knowledge and experience necessary to see it through.

What are the other types of common neighbour disputes?

Parking spaces

You do not have any rights to the section of road directly outside your property unless there are local parking restrictions. As such you cannot prevent anyone else from parking there or indeed put cones or any other markers down to stop others from parking there. 

Residents do not have automatic rights on public roads unless there are local parking constraints allowing access to a certain space. You do have a right of access to your driveway however and the local authorities do have powers to remove vehicles that are illegally parked or deemed to be abandoned.

Where there are disabled signs on public roads then residents or anyone else is not allowed to park their without a disabled badge.

It’s not necessarily an offence to park on pavements, however it can be in instances where there are yellow lines, a car is obstructing a driveway or any other signals or signs designed to aid pedestrians. Your local councillors should be able to give you more advice on this.

Gardens, trees & boundaries

Gardens and trees are often the cause of disputes between neighbours over boundaries. 

It’s important to determine who owns the land where fences hedges and boundaries are concerned. You can check your title deeds to determine who is responsible for the maintenance of a boundary. If you’re in a rented property your landlord should be able to assist you with this. 

Repairing broken fences is a common dispute among neighbours and it’s important to define who is responsible for the fence because as they can commonly do what they like with it, providing it is safe.

For a definition of boundaries seek advice from a solicitor.

Disputes about planning permission

A neighbour may have a plan to extend their house and this can affect your home. In order to make certain changes they’ll need to apply for planning permission and this results in the local authority sending out a notice to any neighbouring homes that will be affected to see if there any objections. In this case, you can register your objection to the planning department, though there’s no guarantee that permission will not be granted.

Driveways, communal areas, roofs and gardens can all cause disputes and the rights to use these should be set out in the property’s legal documents. You need to be aware of any permissions required to use these spaces. In instances where your property is at threat, but a neighbour is refusing to give you access, an application can be made for an access order.

The noisy neighbours

If a noise from your neighbours becomes a regular problem it can be a frustrating experience. If you feel this is happening regularly, we suggest you discuss the issue with your neighbour and failing that keep a diary every time you feel the noise is an obstruction.

If you need legal advice on dispute regulation contact us now. 

01277 284532