Are you involved in a Neighbourhood Dispute?
Living side by side with your neighbours when involved in a neighbourhood dispute isn’t easy, but rushing straight into the courtroom is often not the best course of action. No matter what the dispute, your best option is usually to try and resolve the issue in a way that allows you and your neighbours to continue to live alongside one another. However if your neighbourhood dispute can’t be solved amicably, it’s important to understand your legal position and the options available to you.
Some of the most common causes of neighbourhood disputes are fences, overhanging tree branches, noise complaints and pet problems. However remember not to over-react to what could be a one-off or easily solved issue. Loud music from a party, a runaway pet or a low hanging branch might all be resolved simply by speaking to your neighbours and explaining your situation. It is possible your neighbour hasn’t even realised they’ve been disturbing you.
In many cases an ongoing issue can still be resolved amicably and in a way which maintains your relationship with your neighbours. For example, fences between houses are the equal responsibility of both home owners. Similarly removing an overhanging branch can be mutually beneficial, so it’s a good idea to work out an agreement regarding who will do the work and, if payment is necessary, how the bill will be dealt with.
If you find yourself facing a serious, ongoing nuisance or disturbance which your neighbour won’t agree to talk to you about there are a number of steps you can take. Consider employing a neutral third party, such as a mediator, to help you both work through the issues and try to reach a compromise.
Should mediation fail you should look into your local council’s laws and enforcement rules relating to common neighbourhood dispute issues. Seeking legal advice before you make a formal complaint is a sensible course of action, to ensure you fully understand the ramifications your complaint will have both on you and your neighbour.