As we are forced to spend more time at home, we are discovering more about our own properties, and more about our neighbours.
For many, our relationships with neighbours have improved, as we set out to help those that we can to brighten up the lonely days at home. There are examples of neighbours enjoying a pub night in the comfort of their own gardens whilst maintaining social distance regulations. Everyone is pleased to have a conversation with anyone that they see and is eager to ensure people close to them are safe.
For some less fortunate, the annoyance and frustration at the actions of their neighbours continue to rise. In the large part, this nuisance will fall far short of a legal nuisance actionable through the courts. Some people, however, are discovering things about their neighbours and properties that require specialist advice.
What can you do right now?
1. Gather the evidence
It is important to gather as much evidence as possible. For example, if your concern is the noise levels that are coming from next door, keep a log of the times and types of music. If you think that your neighbour has done something to cause a negative impact on your property, take pictures from as many angles and in as many different situations as you can. If your neighbours DIY has forced water onto your land, take pictures while it’s dry, wet and anytime in between. If your neighbour is parking on your drive, take a photograph and note the time on each occasion.
2. Speak to your neighbour
Whist following government guidelines, and with a cool head of course, speak with your neighbour. Politely tell them what your problem is and ask them to work with you to rectify it. If tensions are raising, remove yourself from the situation straight away. Don’t forget to keep a log of exactly what is said. Use the ‘Five Ws’ who, what, why, when and where to keep your log as complete as possible. Neighbour disputes are difficult and often distressing. I recommend that once you have made your notes and have decided on your next steps, you should try not to dwell on it.
3. Understand the background
Historic photographs and plans are often crucial to neighbour disputes. If a fence has been moved by your neighbour, as many photographs as can be found of the fence in the old position, will assist. Make the most of the time at home to dig out any old photographs that you may have. You will be amazed at the photographs collected of people in their Sunday best on the way to a do, Dad/Grandpa doing the gardening and the children playing in a paddling pool which help with neighbour disputes.
When purchasing a property everybody is sent a pack of documents that are usually flicked through and, in the most, stuck in a box somewhere never to be seen. These documents can provide vital evidence. Again, take the opportunity to dig them out so you have them available should you need to take legal advice.
Speak to other neighbours (again keeping to government guidelines!) There are usually people on every street that have been there for years and understand the history of the street; when garages were built, who parks where and more. You may finally have the time on your hands to go and speak with these people, they will likely be very glad to tell you everything that you need to know. They may even have some old photographs or historic aerial stills that they will let you take a photograph of.
4. Understand your rights
If you have tried to speak with your neighbour and are still unhappy, it may be that now armed with all of your gathered documentation that you decide that you need to speak to a specialist solicitor to help you move forward in the right way.
If you have a question for our specialist neighbour dispute solicitors please call us on 0161 696 6229 complete our online enquiry form. The neighbour disputes team at Stephensons are dedicated to finding fast and affordable solutions to your situation.