Dealing with a neighbour dispute can be difficult.
As a tenant, you want to have a good relationship with your neighbours, as it helps to enhance the safety and security of your home and provide potential new friendships. However, if you do happen to have a disagreement with your neighbours, how should you handle it?
Many people prefer to attempt to resolve issues themselves; however, this isn’t always possible. Don’t worry if this is the case, help is available, and different people can help you depending on the nature of the issue. Here are a few different actions you can take to try to resolve a dispute with your neighbour.
Approach your neighbour
If you have a complaint about your neighbour, you’ll need to contact them directly first to discuss the issue and how it can be resolved. After all, there’s a chance that your neighbour may not know they’re being disruptive, and the problem could be resolved with a simple conversation.
They will also likely appreciate that you have come to them first before getting anyone else involved and will usually be more inclined to try to solve the issue amicably.
If you’ve had problems with your neighbour in the past and you no longer feel like you can talk to them face to face, you could write to them instead.
Look at mediation
If your neighbour rejects your approach, you can contact local mediators. These can help you and your neighbour reach an agreement in a timely and amicable manner.
The mediator will be impartial and trained in dealing with disputes, acting as a referee. You can find someone local to help you here.
Look at mediation
If the neighbour is also a tenant and has already refused to cooperate when approached, then it may be time to contact their landlord. If you can find out who the landlord is, they may be prepared to talk to their tenant about the issue.
If you have reason to believe that discrimination’s an issue, then make sure you inform the landlord. Private landlords can apply for possession on the grounds that a tenant has been a nuisance or committed an offence, such as a racially motivated attack. If you think discrimination is involved, then you must ensure that the landlord knows about this.
If a criminal offence is being committed, such as harassment, then you’re entitled to get the police involved. This could also involve a breach of the peace, assault or harassment because of your race or sex.
If you believe you’re being racially discriminated against, you’ll need help from experienced advisors, such as your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
If your complaint damages your health or is a nuisance (such as excessive noise), you can ask the local council for help. These issues are known as ‘statutory nuisances’ and could include:
- Noise (such as music or dogs)
- Artificial lights (excluding street lamps)
- Dust, steam, smell or insects (usually from business premises)
- Smokes, fumes and gases
- A build-up of rubbish that could be hazardous to health.
Your council will have a duty to investigate any reported statutory nuisances, but you should always try and resolve the problem yourself before contacting the council.
You can also contact the council if your dispute is regarding a hedge or tree. However, you must attempt to resolve the problem informally with your neighbour before contacting the council. You can ask for a complaint form if the hedge or tree is over two metres tall and affects your enjoyment of your home or garden because of its height.
You may, however, have to pay the council a fee for it to consider your complaint. You can read more here if this is the source of your dispute.
The environmental health department
If you believe your neighbour is breaching the law concerning public health or pollution, you can inform the environmental health department.
If this is the case, your neighbour will likely get an informal visit from an environmental health officer who will explain the problem, asking them to rectify it. If this fails and the problem persists, they’ll be served a notice, requiring them to stop or deal with the nuisance.
Contact the local planning department if you think your neighbour has begun (or completed) building work without permission or has been using the land for an unauthorised purpose. They’ll investigate whether there has been a breach and, if so, how it can be resolved.
If you don’t believe your neighbour is taking your complaint seriously, you could get your solicitor to draft a letter. This can be a particularly effective step if your neighbour is a tenant, as it can make them realise that they may be evicted.
Going to court
Going to court should be your final option. Going to court isn’t only expensive (unless you’re eligible for legal aid), but it can also irreparably damage your relationship with your neighbour. If you’re considering going to court, you should speak to an expert advisor first.
Attempting to resolve a dispute with your neighbour can be daunting and problematic. However, by doing your best to resolve the problem informally, you’ll be taking the best possible step, and hopefully, the problem can be solved amicably. If this fails, there are experts who can help you, so don’t hesitate to contact them.