Disputes with Neighbours: Action You Can Take If You Have Disagreements with Your Neighbours

Neighbourhood Disputes

Despite the general desire of most people to keep their homes a haven that is peaceful and quiet, sometimes, issues can come up which can upset our tranquil environment.

Neighbourhood disputes can arise from far ranging issues such as hedges, noise, vandalism to outright antagonistic behaviour.

Most towns and boroughs do not take kindly to those who commence hostilities and conflict within their environs so it will not be too hard or too difficult to have the issues resolved.

Types of Neighbourhood Disputes

Most neighbourhood problems and disputes can be found in one or more of the following categories:

  • Peace And Quiet Issues

All persons have a right to expect a peaceful and quiet environment. However, some people just have a knack of making major nuisances of themselves. Usually they are just inconsiderate of the persons around them or they expect that because they are partying themselves, then everybody needs to be partying with them. Most people have definitely encountered this type at one time or another.

  • Foliage Related Issues

Despite the fact that gardens and plants are supposedly genteel and peaceful pastimes, in real life, it comprises a substantial portion of neighbourhood disputes.

Overgrown gardens and trees, branches and fruits encroaching on your neighbour’s property and hedge height and composition are pretty much standard items in your basic neighbourhood dispute.

Obviously, putting aside the cases of encroachments on properties, it seems that people do have diverse ideas about what is aesthetically pleasing.

  • Trespassing and Boundary Line Issues

Unless you painstakingly mark out your property and ensure that it cannot be moved, this will be an issue when your neighbour moves in or decides to construct something adjacent to your property line.

Some people will be outright inconsiderate and unmindful of your rights and move the boundaries to accommodate their plans. It means nothing for them to take a few centimetres off your property to allow for their bigger driveway. Or maybe pass through your land on the way to their property, using it as a shortcut.

Usually it pays to be quite aware of this and be on your guard as soon as you see some construction in progress. Alternatively, you can clearly and permanently delineate your property and ensure that you and your neighbour discuss this delineation.

While the above process is ideal, it can sometimes be hard to do for large properties or for those where the owner cannot see the whole expanse due to trees and other structures.

This particular incursion is one that you must watch out for due to a legal thing called trespass to land. If you allow such incursions to proceed or to occur on a regular basis, you may find that you have lost the legal recourse to prevent such incursions. Allowing it to proceed without protesting may signify an implicit agreement on your part and result in rendering future complaints that are null and void.

So if such violations are occurring, address these right away.

  • Restrictive Covenant Issues

Another major source of conflict can be found in restrictive covenants. These are agreements between landowners in a certain area about matters regarding land usage. In a way, it can be looked at as a private zoning agreement.

Such agreements are bound, not to the owners but to the land. This is very important because even if the persons who were parties to the original covenant are no longer around, the restrictions can be imposed.

So when buying property, it is very important to ensure that there are no restrictive covenants or if there, then make sure these are restrictions you desire.

On the other hand, if you reside in an area with restrictive covenants, then it is up to you and the other property owners to ensure that new neighbours are made aware of and will act in compliance to the terms of the restrictive covenant.

Some Remedies

What are your options when confronted with the issues above?

The first recourse of course is to talk to the neighbours concerned and try to resolve the issues yourselves. In case you went ahead and talked to the local council, you would be advised to try and settle this without involving any third parties.

Should talking with them fail, then your next step should be to locate a mediator in your area. This is in line with the preference of government to resolve small interpersonal issues outside the court. This is also called alternative dispute resolution. It includes mediation, arbitration, conciliation and adjudication.

Of course certain issues such as noise, vandalism or anti social behaviour may skip the mediation step after talking with them. This is usually the case for situations where it is clear that the other party is in violation of environmental policies or other laws. So instead of mediating, you can proceed to report them to the proper authorities.

On the other hand, if you did pass mediation and no positive results came out of it, then you may have no recourse but to engage the services of a solicitor and resolve the matter in court.

Final Notes

When most people find a place they call home, the desire is there to stay either indefinitely or for a long time. So when neighbourhood conflicts arise, it is always advisable to settle the matters as friendly neighbours rather than as adversaries.

Admittedly, some people can be very trying and unreasonable but it still pays to dig in and find that last iota of patience in order to give a last try at achieving a win-win solution.

After all, a protracted and bitter legal battle can result in a positive judgement for you. But the animosity and the resulting tension which you may encounter on a daily basis may turn your oasis of peace into a tension filled habitat.

So try as hard as you can to resolve things at the first step as this solution will be the best for the long term and may result in enhancing the quality of life in your neighbourhood and for all concerned.