It’s an unfortunate reality when you own or rent property, disputes between neighbours can often arise. Wherever possible it is best to try and resolve a dispute before ending up in court.
Reasons for disputes
We are seeing an increase in clients contacting us about property disputes between their neighbours and themselves. These disputes are often unavoidable and can be due to access issues such as:
- protection of rights of way and easements
- disputes as to the positioning of the boundaries between properties
- nuisance claims
- vehicular disputes (access/storage) and
- disputes surrounding developments (including development-led nuisance and party wall issues)
When you have a problem with your neighbour it is best to speak to them to try resolve the dispute together. The earlier you speak to each other the more likely the matter will be settled without legal help.
What if I cannot speak to my neighbour?
If you are not able to discuss the matter with your neighbour you should write to them about your issues with suggestions how you both might resolve the dispute. The letter you send to your neighbour is important as it can set the tone for your relationship with them in the future. Your letter could also be shown to a Judge in Court if the matter progresses that far.
Getting legal advice
Often matters cannot be resolved by the parties discussing their problems directly. At this stage it is often wise to consult a solicitor to seek advice about how best to settle the dispute. A solicitor will generally provide advice as to how strong or weak your claim is. It is advisable to engage a solicitor at the earliest possible stage (after you have already tried to speak with your neighbour). Doing so will prevent otherwise avoidable costs being incurred by both parties.
A solicitor will send a letter of claim to your neighbour setting out the position. This is often a crossroads in the matter. The quarrelling neighbour will often see sense or they may instruct their solicitor – which in itself can lead to a quicker resolution of matters.
Court proceedings are a last resort and they should be avoided. Sometimes though, court proceedings are the only way to resolve the dispute. It is always best to speak to a solicitor first to establish the best way forward on the basis of the strength of your case.
What if I have a dispute with tenants in a rented property?
People who rent residential and commercial properties can also have disputes with their neighbours. In this case it is best to contact the landlord to try and resolve the matter before involving a solicitor.
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