Neighbour disputes – FAQ’s
18 March 2021 by Billy Smith
Disputes with neighbours are unfortunately a common occurrence. Ideally, a polite conversation can resolve any problems you have but what happens if you’re experiencing anti-social behaviour, harassment, or anxiety? Should you consider legal action and how can a Solicitor help you resolve these issues? Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, Billy Smith from FJG’s Dispute Resolution team has provided some answers to a few frequently asked questions around the topic of neighbour disputes.
What are the most common neighbour disputes you see? Have these increased during lockdown?
The most common disputes I see between neighbours is often about the boundaries between their properties. There have also been instances where neighbours have been abusive or anti-social. More recently, I have been involved in a number of cases where neighbours are pursuing private nuisance claims and are seeking damages or applying for injunctive relief to abate a continuing nuisance which is interfering with the use and enjoyment of their properties. The lockdown and economic downturn has caused significant distress to people and this increased volatility has resulted in a dramatic increase in neighbour disputes.
What steps should a person take to resolve disputes with their neighbour?
The best approach is to explain any grievances you may have with your neighbour is to calmly discuss how to resolve matters with them. If relations have deteriorated then I would suggest writing to your neighbour and reinforce to them that the purpose of the correspondence is to narrow the issues in dispute and to work towards restoring neighbourly relations. It is always useful to document or log any incidents that have arisen with your neighbours as this will show that you have exhausted all options at your disposal before seeking independent legal advice.
If my local council is refusing to collect my recycling bin because neighbours are adding non-recyclable refuse to it, what can I do?
It could be argued that using a neighbour’s rubbish bin is fly-tipping. You may therefore wish to notify your neighbour of this and kindly request that they refrain from doing this herein. If they ignore your request then you could report the matter to the local authority who can issue fixed penalties to your neighbour.
How could mediation help neighbours resolve a dispute?
Mediation is a process for resolving disputes where a third party helps neighbours negotiate a compromise. Neighbours do not necessarily have to meet face to face and heads of agreement are normally agreed in circumstances where a settlement is achieved. It is recommended that neighbours utilise mediation and any other form of alternative dispute before formally commencing legal proceedings. Litigation is considered as a last resort given the potential risk and cost implications that can arise from the same.
Why should a person seek regulated legal advice to resolve disputes with neighbours?
It is useful to obtain independent legal advice from the very outset given that we have extensive experience and expertise in dealing with disputes of this nature. A legal professional would set out the various options available and would also set out what formal action can be taken against your neighbour in circumstances where the Pre-Action Protocol has been fully exhausted. A legal professional would also be obliged to act in their client’s or clients’ best interest[s] and would not be emotionally involved.
For more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.