There are many reasons why neighbours fall out. Common complaints include loud music, barking dogs and over-hanging trees. But taking your neighbour to court could be costly and emotionally draining. So what is the best way to resolve issues with your neighbour?
Nightmare… or reality?
Even neighbours who get on can have issues with each other, eg your neighbour’s new shed is blocking the light into your kitchen window. So what are some of the things you can do to resolve disputes with your neighbours and live a peaceful life (after all – who else will take in that delivery when you’re not at home)?
The easiest and usually the most effective way to sort out issues with your neighbour is by talking to them. Your neighbour may not realise they’re being a nuisance and causing you distress. Be polite and make your point. Be willing to talk about possible solutions, instead of demanding specific things. No one likes a person making demands of them.
Sometimes it may not be possible to talk to your neighbour directly and so you may have to write them a letter. However, where possible, it’s best to speak to them face to face, so as to avoid any misinterpretation.
Use your best judgment and try and resolve the issue with diplomacy and tact. Your main goal is to get your problem sorted and still maintain a good relationship with your neighbour, so keep this in mind.
Third party intervention?
If talking to your neighbour doesn’t solve the problem, you may have to try third party intervention.
You could ask your neighbour to attend a voluntary mediation session. A mediator is like a referee. They’re an impartial third party who will facilitate discussion and hear both sides of the story. They’re not a judge and they won’t enforce any decisions or make a decision themselves. They may make a recommendation which you can follow or ignore. You can find a mediator in your area by using the Ministry of Justice website. For further information read our guide on Mediation.
You could also make a complaint to your neighbour’s landlord if they’re a tenant. The landlord is responsible for ensuring that their tenant behaves themselves and doesn’t cause problems.
If the issue is to do with noise, then you could make a complaint to the local council. The local council will appoint an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to investigate and objectively decide whether it’s a nuisance under the law. If the EHO finds that there is a statutory noise nuisance, then they will issue a notice to the offending neighbour to control the noise or stop it completely. If the notice is ignored and the noise persists, then heavy penalties can be imposed.
If your neighbour is abusive, violent or committing acts of anti-social behaviour it may be appropriate to contact the local council and make a report. If the behaviour is violent or aggressive, you should contact the police immediately. This is especially important if your neighbour is discriminating you based on ethnicity, religion, sexuality, disability, gender or any other form of discrimination.
The final straw
Your last resort is legal action and court proceedings. Legal proceedings are expensive, emotionally draining and will probably damage your relationship with your neighbour. Whilst not ideal, it is always an option. You should Ask a lawyer if you are considering court action to discuss the merits of your case and determine whether it will be worth it.
For further information on how to solve issues with your neighbours read Neighbour disputes.