Neighbour disputes are on the increase due to a combination of factors such as the increasing population size and density of population and housing leading to more conflict resolution cases being undertaken by solicitors.

conflict-resolution-2 The problem with many of the disputes is that they are increasingly stressful as people generally do not wish to fall out with their neighbours. Furthermore, if in the future you wish to sell your property,  any neighbour disputes or correspondence received to and from neighbours would need to be declared in the sale process and this could potentially put off prospective buyers.

What are the main Conflict Resolution Areas between Neighbours?

Many of the neighbour conflict resolution cases that we deal with in the office arise when a neighbour intends to construct a new extension and proposes putting down the footings of the new extension over the existing boundary line. This is often known in law as a tresspass, which can be stopped by an application to the Court for an injunction and a claim of damages. An application for an injunction  is an Order by a County Court Judge that the offending extension should be stopped as it constitutes a tresspass on the client’s land. However, before applying for an injunction we would write to the neighbour to ask him or her to stop the extension. Correspondence and discussion is a preferable method of conflict resolution to full legal action, as litigation is expensive and unpredictable. Mediation is also an option to full-blown Court action.

conflict resolution 1Often cases can arise where there is uncertainty as to where the true boundary lies. For example an old fence has blown down and the deeds are not always clear as to where the true boundary lies. Many of the old deeds are no longer kept at the Land Registry and therefore one is reliant on looking at the position on the ground and looking at past conduct and actions to determine where the true boundary lies. In some of these cases, we can take an imaginary line using old footings of old fences or posts and look at past conduct to determine where the true boundary lies. However, it is always best to avoid putting up a new fence without discussion with your neighbour and again we can prepare a letter which can assist in the negotiation process.

Noise problems can also be some of the most difficult conflict resolution cases to resolve.  In cases where the noise emanates from a property owned by the offending neighbour we will write a letter asking them to cease or desist. A County Court Judge can also make an order stopping any offending noise and a damages action can be brought. If the property is leased or tenanted you may have rights under your lease or tenancy agreement to ask the landlord or freeholder, to become involved in ceasing any noise nuisance. Again before full court action is begun, we will enter into correspondence.

The Council may also intervene by the issue of an Abatement Notice but this is a long winded process and does not automatically result in you obtaining an award of damages or an Injunction, but can end by a Council prosecution in the Magistrate’s Court on the grounds that a statutory nuisance is being caused by the noise.

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