Home owners and renting tenants will not (for obvious reasons) move into properties with the intention of causing trouble or conflict with their new neighbours. However unfortunately disputes between neighbours can happen. Issues can include:
- Boundary disputes;
- Access issues (e.g. rights of way and easements);
- Party Wall Act issues;
- Nuisance issues (noise or other nuisance);
- Problems caused by trees;
- Water leaks;
- Parking problems; and
- Problems relating to development.
In most cases the parties who might not be experienced in litigation and disputes can become fixed in their positions. Because the dispute is about somebody’s home – matters can easily become heated. So if you find yourself with issues involving your neighbour, what should you do?
First Things First
If you can you should discuss matters with your neighbour first. An informal (and hopefully friendly) discussion at an early stage is best. This can often lead to sorting an issue out before things escalate. If for whatever reason you are not able to talk to your neighbour perhaps because your relationship with them has already broken down – it might be worth writing to them instead. Be sure that you pitch the tone of the letter carefully as it may dictate the nature of your future relationship with the neighbour. In addition to this, a letter could be presented to a Judge at Court (should the matter progress that far) and you may be required to disclose the letter to any prospective purchaser should you choose to sell your property in the future.
In the event that initial contact with your neighbour does not resolve the position you should contact your solicitor. Taking advice from a specialist can be useful to cut through the issues and hopefully provide you with some useful advice. Your solicitor will also establish how strong or weak your case is. If you involve your solicitor at an early stage you will get an idea of how strong your case is. This can prevent unnecessary legal fees for both parties.
After taking legal advice you may wish to instruct your solicitor to send a letter to your neighbour setting out the position and, importantly, how you would like it to be resolved. This will hopefully lead to a swift resolution, but, depending on your neighbour’s stance could lead to your neighbour also instructing a solicitor.
Where neighbours who are causing you problems are tenants in a rented property, you may also wish to contact their landlord and set out the position and concerns. This can often put nuisance neighbours under pressure as it is possible that a landlord can apply to Court seeking an order for possession of a property on the grounds that his tenant has been causing nuisance to neighbours and/or committed an offence.
Ultimately, Court proceedings should be avoided where possible due to the time, stress and costs incurred. Sometimes however they are the only way in which neighbour disputes are able to be resolved. It is advisable to speak with a solicitor at an early stage who should be able to assist you in establishing:
- The most appropriate way forward in resolving the matter; and
- Whether or not you have a strong case.
Our residential property disputes solicitors will be happy to talk to you about any issue you have with your neighbours. Call 0800 988 7756.