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What are the most common types of neighbour disputes?

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Nobody wants to get into a dispute with their neighbour, but unfortunately arguments and claims between neighbours are not that uncommon. There are several different things that neighbours can get into a dispute over.  Here at Stephensons, we find that the most common disputes involve boundaries, trespass claims, rights of way and noise complaints.

Boundary and trespass disputes

Boundary disputes can arise for a number of reasons.  A fence might be replaced and the new one erected in a different place, someone might try to extend their property over what you consider to be the boundary line, your neighbour’s vegetation may be encroaching onto your property. These are just a few examples of different boundary disputes that can occur. 

Linked to boundary disputes, a trespass claim is brought when someone is trespassing onto your land. This can either be physically themselves, or something such as plants growing over the boundary onto your property. When there is a boundary and/or trespass dispute, the first and most important thing to do is to try to establish who actually owns the land in dispute and determine where the boundary actually lies. Whilst Land Registry documents and title deeds can assist with this, they are not always the most accurate way of defining a boundary. If an agreement cannot be reached between the parties, then it is always best to instruct an independent expert surveyor to plot out the boundary by way of an accurate plan. If after obtaining expert evidence, you are still in dispute with your neighbour over a boundary or trespass issue then it is best to obtain legal advice.

Rights of way

Rights of way disputes often occur when one party blocks another from using a right of way that is set out in their title deeds or has been established by long use. A right of way does not need to be blocked completely, simply making it difficult to access or use can be enough to establish a claim. For example, if a right of way allows for use by a vehicle but something is put in the way, such as a large heavy planter, which makes it more difficult for certain vehicles to get through, but ok to still pass on foot or with a very small vehicle, this could be seen as an obstruction to the right of way. 

In order to avoid a dispute of this nature being raised against you by a neighbour you should ensure that you fully understand any rights that your neighbours may have over your property. You cannot block or alter a right of way (without agreement) just because it is not convenient for you or does not suit your own needs. If you ever find yourself in a situation where your right of way has been blocked, or you are accused of blocking someone else’s right of way and you disagree, you should seek legal advice.

Noise complaints

It is not uncommon for people to be disgruntled with a ‘noisy neighbour’. Whether it be a dog barking constantly or music playing at unsociable hours, unfortunately sometimes this is an issue that people find themselves faced with. If you are having these sorts of issues with your neighbour, then the first step to take is to approach them about it. They may not realise the issues they are causing or just how loud they are being. If this does not resolve the matter, then you should keep a diary of the issues and log every event. The council can often assist with these matters. Environmental Health may be able to assist in measuring the noise complained of to determine if it truly is a noise nuisance. Unfortunately, sometimes taking these steps is not enough. If you continue to struggle with noise issues, despite exhausting all possible avenues to address this then it may be that you could have a legal claim against your neighbour.

If you find yourself in a dispute with your neighbour and would like to obtain legal advice or assistance, our specialist neighbour disputes team can help, call us on 0161 696 6178.

By Alysia Leigh, graduate paralegal