Can the law help in neighbour disputes?

 

If you have a problem neighbour, law exists in the UK to help to protect you. Broadly the law gives effect to the old biblical commandment to ‘honour thy neighbour’.

In property law, this takes multiple forms. The two most commonly encountered are the right to quiet enjoyment, and clarification of boundaries.

Quiet enjoyment

Under the Common Law, you have a right to the quiet enjoyment of your property. Should your neighbours disturb this, it is known as ‘nuisance’ or, if they physically encroach on your property, ‘trespass’. In either case, you are entitled to take action against them.

Examples of nuisance include:

 

  • Playing music too loudly or using loud machinery
  • Causing smoke or other fumes to drift over your property
  • Constantly hitting a ball into your garden

The nuisance must be unreasonable however. If you bought a house next to a cricket field, then you cannot complain when the batsman hits the occasional six into your garden!

Very often your local authority can take action against nuisances, for example, by sending warnings or even confiscating sound-making equipment.

You can learn more about civil disputes on our tort law pages.

Boundary disputes

Property would be meaningless without boundaries between neighbours. Unfortunately they are often not particularly clear. A previous occupant might erect a fence inside their land, leaving a strip the other side of it that does not belong to the adjacent householder.

This might suddenly become relevant when one neighbour decides to take down the fence and perhaps erect a shed, on land that the other neighbour had always assumed was theirs. Resolving disputes such as these can be lengthy and acrimonious.

Unfortunately cases in which the parties spend more on legal fees than the disputed land is actually worth are not unheard of! Should you find yourself in a boundary dispute, the best advice is to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible and do your best to reach an amicable resolution.

Visit our boundary dispute pages to learn more about these cases.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on a possible dispute with your neighbour, we can put you in touch with a cost-effective property solicitor free of charge. Pease call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above to speak to one of our advisors.

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