What are the most common neighbour disputes you see? Have these increased during lockdown?
Our instructions in relation to neighbour disputes, concern either boundaries; party walls; or allegations of harassment (often tied with allegations of trespass or obstruction of a right of way). We have seen an increase in these types of disputes during lockdown, largely due to people undertaking home improvements, and therefore issues concerning boundaries and party walls arising. Further, as neighbours are living in closer proximity to each other, where they are not able to leave the premises for work, or indeed for days out, issues concerning parking for example have become more prevalent.
What steps should a person take to resolve disputes with their neighbour?
People should always attempt to resolve matters with their neighbour directly. Neighbour disputes are notoriously quite costly; and by the time you progress matters through the court, often the relationship is so degraded, it can never be retrieved. There are other options to a direct approach that can be taken before obtaining legal advice, such as to progress a community resolution, or a council arranged mediation.
If my local Council is refusing to collect my recycling bin because neighbours are adding non-recyclable refuse to it, what can I do?
In the first instance, you should speak to your local authority to ascertain what they would suggest in the circumstances. This would not be an isolated incident; and the Council would have procedures in place that would enable you to take steps to try to reduce this issue. The other alternatives would be consider placing a lock on your bin, or indeed altering the time at which the bin is put out. In worst case scenarios, an injunction can be sought.
However, it may be that the council are being unreasonable in their refusal to collect the refuse, and if this is the case you should first make a formal complaint to your local authority using their complaints procedure, and if this does not resolve the issue or they do not respond within 12 weeks you can seek assistance from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
How could mediation help neighbours resolve a dispute?
Mediation is a very good tool to help the neighbours resolve a dispute, because ultimately, the outcome is something which both parties can live with. As court determinations impose a decision, and ultimately that decision may not be for the benefit of the neighbours. Mediation therefore gives a venue for both parties to air their concerns, and to reach an agreement that it is acceptable to both.
Why should a person seek regulated legal advice to resolve disputes with neighbours?
If matters cannot be agreed by an informal process such as community resolution; then legal advice may be required in order that you can understand fully your position, your rights and obligations, and ultimately whether your desired outcome can be achieved.