We live in increasingly close proximity to one another and, inevitably, that can lead to tensions rising over neighbourly behaviours. There are many different levels of disputes, from a neighbour playing music at full volume throughout the night, to those who move fences and park where they shouldn’t. If you’re facing a dispute with someone you live close to then here are a few tips on how to deal with it.
Neighbours changing their property
Not all changes to a property require planning permission but many do, so if your neighbour is planning – or already making – changes, the first place to start is with your local authority. Speak to your local planning department to make sure that your neighbour has the planning permission in place for the changes that they want to make. Even if they have already completed the project you can still take action – changes that wouldn’t receive planning permission if it had been applied for may need to be undone.
Trees and hedges
This is one of the most common sources of problems between neighbours, from those who don’t take proper care of what is growing on their land, to disputes over blocked light or roots that are causing an obstacle. The first step is always to check with the local authority whether any trees that you have an issue with are protected. If they are subject to a Tree Preservation Order then it’s illegal to willfully damage, uproot, cut down or even cut the roots of that tree without a written consent order from the local planning authority. If trees or hedges aren’t protected then branches etc that overhang into a neighbouring property can be cut down by a neighbour. If you feel the tree is dangerous e.g. it presents a risk to you or your property, then you can get the local planning authority involved in the dispute.
Another very common issue between neighbours is noise, from barking dogs through to DIY. It’s important to start out trying to be tolerant as we all make noise that disturbs our neighbours, even if we don’t realise it. However, some noise is intolerable – for example building work that starts at 6am and continues late into the night for a long period of time or neighbours who are constantly having parties at all hours. These may constitute noise pollution for which you can take action. The best first step is always to give the neighbour the chance to stop what they’re doing by letting them know it’s disturbing you. If they don’t stop then keep a noise diary, try to record noise levels and take photos or videos that show dates and times of problems. Police and local authorities can deal with noise troublemakers so take your evidence to them.
If you get involved in a dispute…
Try first to find an amicable resolution to the problem. Sit down with your neighbour and look for some common ground – with a third party present if necessary. If that doesn’t work, or it’s not an option, then you may need to consider a property lawyer. There are certain situations in which this is particularly appropriate, for example if you’re dealing with boundaries or plans for building works that may involve complex planning regulations.
For advice on dealing with neigbour disputes please call 01524 386500.