RESOLVING NEIGHBOUR DISPUTES GUIDE
Documents Source: https://www.gov.uk/how-to-resolve-neighbour-disputes/overview
PART 1 - OVERVIEW
If you have a dispute with your neighbour:
1. Try to solve the problem informally by talking to them.
2. If your neighbour is a tenant, you could contact their landlord.
3. You could use a mediation service if raising the issue informally doesn’t work.
4. If the dispute involves a statutory nuisance (something like loud music or barking dogs), you can make a complaint to your local council.
5. Contact the police if your neighbour is breaking the law by being violent or harassing you.
6. As a last resort you can take legal action through the courts.
PART 2 - TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOUR
Solving the problem informally
Before making a formal complaint or getting others involved, try to discuss the problem with your neighbour.
If you’re worried about approaching them, write a letter, explaining the problem clearly and sticking to the facts.
If the problem affects other neighbours, involve them as well. It can be easier to settle a dispute if the complaint comes from a number of people.
A tenants’ association might help if you’re a member of one.
Get practical advice from Citizens Advice to deal with common neighbour disputes, like high hedges.
PART 3 - CONTACT YOUR NEIGHBOURS LANDLORD
If your neighbour is a tenant, you can complain to their landlord. This could be a housing association, the council or a private landlord.
Part 4 - USE A MEDIATION SERVICE
If you can’t resolve the dispute by speaking to your neighbour, get help from a mediation service.
How mediation works
Mediation is when an impartial person - trained in dealing with difficult discussions between 2 opposing sides - acts like a referee in a dispute.
There can be a fee for mediation, but this will still be cheaper than hiring a solicitor and taking legal action.
Contact a mediation service
Mediation services differ depending on where you live:
Ø if you live in England and Wales, find a mediation provider in your area on the Ministry of Justice website
Ø in Scotland, use the Scottish Mediation Network
Ø your council or housing association may provide a mediation service
Ø the charity LawWorks provides free mediation
Part 5 - COMPLAIN ABOUT NOISE TO THE COUNCIL
You can ask your local council for help if the neighbour dispute involves an activity that is damaging to health or a nuisance. This is known as a ‘statutory nuisance’.
Ø noise (including loud music and barking dogs)
Ø artificial light (except street lamps)
Ø dust, steam, smell or insects from business premises
Ø smoke, fumes or gases
Ø a build-up of rubbish that could harm health
Your local council has a duty to investigate any statutory nuisance.
You should always try and solve the problem by talking to your neighbour or through mediation before contacting the council.
If the council decides someone is causing a statutory noise nuisance they must issue a ‘noise abatement’ order. This tells the person what they must do to stop making a noise nuisance or else face further legal action.
If someone breaks an abatement order about noise from their home, they can be fined up to £5,000. If it’s noise from a factory or business, the penalty can be up to £20,000.
Part 6 - HIGH HEDGES, TREES AND BOUNDARIES
If you’re having a dispute about a high hedge, your council can only take action if the hedge is:
Ø 2 or more mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs
Ø over 2 metres tall
Ø affecting your enjoyment of your home or garden because it’s too tall
Ø affecting your property
If the hedge is in any of these categories, ask your council for a complaint form. You might have to pay the council a fee to consider your complaint.
Download ‘High hedges:Complaining to the council’ (PDF, 394KB)
Your rights to trim hedges or trees
You can trim branches or roots that cross into your property up to the property boundary. If you do more than this, your neighbour could take you to court for damaging their property.
If you live in a conservation area, or the trees in the hedge are protected by a ‘tree preservation order’, you might need your council’s permission to trim them.
Property damage from hedges
Your neighbour is responsible for maintaining their hedges so they don’t, for example, damage your property or grow too high. If they do damage your property, your neighbour may be liable.
Boundaries and shared (‘party’) walls
Disputes about what is the exact boundary between 2 properties can be difficult to solve so get legal advice.
You must give notice to your neighbour if you are going to do work on a shared (‘party’) wall.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has free advice on boundary disputes and party walls (the walls you share with your neighbours).
Part 7 - CALLTHE POLICE
You should the police if your neighbour:
Ø is violent, threatening or abusive
Ø is harassing you sexually, or because of your sexuality, religion or ethnic background
Ø is breaching the peace (being disorderly in the street or making a lot of noise)
Ø is breaking the law in any other way - or if you suspect this
Part 8 - TAKE ACTION THROUGH THE COURTS
If all else fails, you can take legal action against a neighbour.
Taking someone to court can be expensive so it should be your last resort if nothing else works. There may be court fees and you may have to pay a solicitor.
You can get free legal advice from a law centre, advice centre or Citizens Advice.
You can also find a lawyer who deals with neighbour disputes through the Law Society.
This is the Resolving Neighbour Disputes Guide in PDF: