An Englishman’s home is his castle. It can be frustrating and upsetting, then, when your enjoyment of your home is disrupted by issues with your neighbours. The Citizens Advice Bureau have indicated that neighbour disputes are very common and that the top 5 issues that arise between neighbours are:-
- Noise – beyond the occasional early morning DIY project or loud late-night party, neighbours persistently creating excessive noise which is disruptive to others
- Boundaries and rights of way – for example, moving the location of fences and hedges so as to change the boundaries between properties, or obstruction of a shared driveway so as to render it unusable by one party.
- Maintenance of shared facilities – who should be responsible for maintaining common areas of blocks of flats or gardens belonging to one flat in a block can cause a variety of issues
- Trees and plants – the roots from a tree on a neighbouring property causing damage to your property, or an invasive species of plant such as bamboo or Japanese knotweed rooted in your neighbour’s garden which has found its way over on to your land and is spreading with abandon
- Anti-social behaviour – children trespassing on neighbouring land or damaging property belonging to neighbours
An informal conversation, or a polite letter explaining the issues and how you would like them resolved can be a good starting point to try to avoid escalation. Mediation services might be another method of trying to resolve the dispute (whether that be free mediation services offered through the Citizens Advice Bureau or more formal mediation with lawyers). If those alternative forms of dispute resolution are unsuccessful, then you may have no option but to issue a court claim to resolve matters, but this should always be the option of last resort and not undertaken lightly.
The reality is that there is always a downside to neighbour disputes that escalate to court, win or lose. Whether that be the significant costs incurred if a dispute ends up in court or the strained and difficult relationships that often last well beyond the technical resolution of the dispute. Resolving neighbour disputes without ending up in court, where possible, is always best.
We can help to advise you on the options available to you to try to resolve disputes with your neighbours without the need for court proceedings.
Hayley Bell is head of our Litigation Department and has a wide range of experience dealing with all types of dispute resolution and civil litigation from contract disputes to property disputes. Please email Hayley or call her on 01825 747130, or visit our website www.dawson-hart.co.uk.