Most people’s neighbours are great. They’re there to help with jump-starting your car, lending power drills and even sharing a bottle of wine on the odd occasion.
There are some neighbours who aren’t so great, however, and these neighbours keep the street awake with raucous all-night parties, throw cigarette butts over the fence, steal Amazon deliveries or, in the worst case, threaten and harass the other occupants of the street.
If you’re having problems with a neighbour, then don’t just despair, as you may well be able to resolve the issue before you give up and sell up.
How to deal with a neighbour dispute
These sorts of disputes aren’t uncommon, but many are surprisingly easy to resolve as long as you stay calm and reasonable.
Make a gentle initial request
You may well find that your neighbour had no idea that their children were so noisy, or that some guests at their weekend party threw empties into your flowerbeds. Pointing out the issue in a non-judgemental way could be the end of it, especially if your neighbour isn’t usually thoughtless.
Try a letter
If you tend to get a bit nervous when it comes to addressing a problem, then a friendly note might work. Outline the issue and how it affects you, say that you understand how parties can get a bit rowdy or that kids can make more noise than parents realise, and drop it through the letterbox. Some people appreciate a nice card, as it shows that you know it’s awkward. Others, unfortunately, might not care about the effect they have on others…
Getting other people or agencies involved
Many local authorities have neighbour conciliation and mediation services to help with disputes if the neighbours can’t resolve the issues on their own. Your council website should have the contact details of your local mediation service.
Keep records of everything
If, as is the case in a small number of neighbour disputes, you can’t reach a solution either between yourselves or with help, then you may need to start gathering evidence of the problem behaviour to help with further action.
Note down the times and dates of every incident, be it noise, mess, antisocial behaviour or worse, and take photos or videos if you feel it’s safe to do so. If you send any letters or emails to the problem neighbours, other residents or any authority or agency, then keep copies.
Call Environmental Health
The Environmental Health department of your local authority has procedures and policies in place to help you to resolve the neighbour issue. Call them to find out how they can help and what you need to do to get them involved.
Each council will have different ways of dealing with nuisance behaviour, but they’ll be broadly the same. Environmental Health can determine if your neighbour’s behaviour warrants further action and they can also collect and present evidence in court if necessary.
Look for legal help
Your house insurance might cover legal advice, so check to see if this is the case. If your council hasn’t been much help, then a solicitor might be the next step.
Another idea is to engage a solicitor and have them write a legal letter to your neighbour, although this is a last resort as these letters are a point of no return in many ways. Only start legal action if there’s no other way of resolving the dispute and remember, you’ll have to declare the dispute to your estate agent if you end up moving as a result.