Home owners and renting tenants don’t usually move into properties with the intention of causing trouble or ending up quarrelling with their neighbours. Unfortunately, however, neighbour disputes do arise. They can stem from various things, including (but certainly by no means limited to):
- Boundary disputes;
- Access issues (e.g. rights of way and easements);
- Party wall issues;
- Noise issues;
- Problems caused by trees (and/or their roots);
- Water leaks; or
- Parking problems
In many cases, the people involved (who might not be used to litigation and disputes) become entrenched in their positions. With the added stress of the dispute concerning that person’s home, matters can become heated, often from an early stage. So if you find yourself with issues with a neighbour, what should you do?
First things first
While no two situations are identical, it is usually best to first discuss the matter directly with the neighbour. This can be done in person at a meeting. If this is not desirable, however, (e.g. if you think that the conversation is likely to end badly) then it may be better to write a letter instead. It is important to pitch the tone of your letter carefully, as:
(a) it might dictate the nature of your future relationship with your neighbour; and
(b) could be presented to a judge at court, should the matter progress that far.
If you are not able to resolve the matter directly with your neighbour, it be worth consulting a solicitor for advice. This can often be useful in cutting through the issues and providing you with advice as to how strong or weak your position is. It is key to do this at an early stage; particularly if you are unsure as to whether your stance is correct or not. It can prevent unnecessary (and in some scenarios, unrecoverable) legal costs being incurred.
Once you have taken legal advice you may wish to instruct a solicitor to send a letter to your neighbour setting out the position. This will sometimes lead to a swift resolution, but, depending on your neighbour’s stance, could instead lead to your neighbour instructing a solicitor.
Where the neighbours who are causing the problem are tenants in a rented property it may be appropriate to contact their landlord and set out the position. This will often put the nuisance neighbour under pressure, as a landlord can apply to court for possession of a property on the grounds that the tenant has caused nuisance to neighbours or committed an offence.
Ultimately court proceedings should be avoided where possible, but sometimes they are the only way in which these (and other types of) disputes are resolved. Our property disputes team can assist you to establish (a) the most appropriate way to resolve the matter, and (b) whether or not you have a strong case.
If you have a neighbour dispute, our property disputes solicitors can assist. Call us today on 0800 988 7756 for a FREE initial consultation.