What to do if you are having a dispute with your neighbour?
2 October 2020 by Priya Patel
During the pandemic, many people have been spending more time at home. But what rights do you have if your neighbours are creating excessive noise? And how can a Solicitor help you to reach a resolution that works for everyone? Following on from this week’s Law Society Solicitor Chat, Priya Patel from the FJG’s Dispute Resolution team has provided some answers on a few frequently asked questions.
What are the most common neighbour disputes clients come to you for help with?
This list is not intended to be exhaustive however the most common neighbour disputes tend to involve:
- Rights of way and communal area matters;
- Adverse possession disputes;
- Building & construction matters;
- Boundary and fence disputes;
- Party Wall Act disputes and obligations;
- Anti-social behaviour such as; excessive noise, dumping of rubbish, writing graffiti, barking dogs and/or dangerous pets and harassment.
- General nuisance
- Dangerous trees, overhanging branches and roots that have spread into a neighbour’s property
What steps should someone take to try and resolve a dispute with their neighbour?
If you feel safe and comfortable one can approach neighbours or the neighbouring land landlord (if the neighbour is renting the property) to try and resolve the dispute directly.
If that does not facilitate a compromise being reached, we advise keeping a record of instances of when problems with relation to the dispute occur. This can be achieved by writing as much as detail as possible about the facts.
It is prudent to ask the relevant council or housing association (if applicable) to help find a mediator who is unbiased and trained to help people resolve disagreements of this type. If the dispute relates to anti-social behaviour, report it to the council and if a hate crime is involved, one can contact the Police so that the matter can be investigated further.
How can mediation help disputing neighbours find a suitable resolution?
Mediation should not be used where there has been a serious act of violence or a criminal act. The reasons why mediation is useful are:
- It can help to reach a mutually acceptable solution;
- The mediator is independent and is a fresh pair of eyes to help the parties find a solution;
- It is a confidential and informal process;
- It allows control of what happens to be retained by the parties;
- A mediation can take place at any time and at any place and will be possible sooner than if a trial were to be waited for;
- When organised by the local authority/housing association there is a free service; and
- There are potential cost benefits; as both parties can save legal costs by avoiding formal court proceedings
How can a Solicitor help someone to resolve a dispute with their neighbour?
A specialised Solicitor will be able to provide proper advice to identify the legal issues to help resolve the matter as quickly as possible. A Solicitor will also explain the key steps to take in the event that one wishes to institute court proceedings and can help a neighbour to draft a comprehensive pre-action letter and advise in relation to any response(s) received to that letter.
For more information on legal updates and changes during the Coronavirus pandemic, visit our Coronavirus Legal Advice hub.