Disputes between neighbours are common but most of the time they can be resolved with talk or negotiation. However, not all disputes are easily solved, and this is when the legal system can help.
Types of Neighbour Disputes
Some examples of neighbour disputes include:
Disputes over boundaries.
Disputes over who is responsible for maintaining shared amenities such as a driveway or drain.
Nuisance disputes such as view-blocking hedges or trees, or an unreasonable level of noise.
If you've been the victim of abuse or harrassment that you believe is related to your race or religion, or if any neighbour dispute has involved violence or the threat of violence, contact the police for help and advice.
Resolving Neighbour Disputes
Neighbour disputes are a kind of civil dispute, which means that UK law requires they be solved outside of the courtroom whenever possible. Some steps you can take to resolve a dispute include:
It's generally best to try and solve a dispute person-to-person whenever possible, as this tends to generate the least amount of ill-feeling. Try talking to your neighbour, or if you prefer, send them a letter explaining the problem.
Your local authority
If your neighbour is being a public nuisance, or if they’re doing something that is potentially dangerous, getting your local authority involved might be useful. Problems that might be applicable include barking dogs, loud music in a residential home, or a build-up of rubbish on a neighbour’s property.
Consult a solicitor
A solicitor may be able to offer useful advice in some situations; for instance, in issues relating to property boundaries, rights-of-way, or shared amenities, a solicitor's advice can be invaluable.
Mediation is a meeting where you and your neighbour get together with a trained mediator, who is there to help you resolve the dispute. Your solicitor can help you set up a mediation session; in some cases your local council may be able to help with this too.
As a last resort you can apply to the courts by filing a claimant form to start the litigation process. Generally it's best to do this via a solicitor. In court you and your neighbour will each have the opportunity to present evidence to support your respective claims, and a judge will make a legally binding decision to resolve the dispute.