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What to do when raising a nuisance dispute with your neighbour

Not seeing eye-to-eye with a neighbour is unfortunately not uncommon and having friction with the people that live in close proximity can be difficult and often anxiety-inducing. When situations arise with neighbours and the issues get out of hand – like nuisance disputes – it is best to resolve them quickly and professionally.

In our most recent blog, we discuss some of the things you should be aware of about boundary disputes. In this article, we’re putting the focus on one of the other most frequent neighbour disputes – nuisance claims – to equip you with the knowledge of what they are and how to resolve them, should you ever be involved in a claim.

What is a nuisance dispute?

Nuisance disputes are split into two categories; private nuisance and public nuisance. 

Our main focus in this article is private nuisance. This is when the defendant does something on their own land – which they are entitled to do – but causes inconvenience, stress and unreasonable interference to you and your property. 

Public nuisance – whilst we’re not going into too much detail on this – is when a person’s actions endanger the properties, health and comfort of the public.

Examples of private nuisance disputes

Some examples of nuisance disputes include: 

  • Loud and continuous noise coming from a neighbour and their house. For example, music and barking dogs
  • Excessive light pollution 
  • Constant bonfires
  • Foul odours
  • Tree roots that are left to trespass and cause damage
When do your neighbour’s actions become a case for a nuisance claim?

People are entitled to do what they like – within reason – in their own property and on their own land but the problem lies when their behaviour affects the people living nearby. 

Generally, a key theme to nuisance disputes is noise. 

Whilst your neighbours have the right to make some noise, which can sometimes be annoying, it’s only deemed a case for a nuisance dispute claim if the noise is constant and occurs prominently between 11pm and 7pm. For example: if your neighbour’s parties are going on until the early hours of the morning or if their dog is constantly left to bark in the garden throughout the night.

The same applies to excessive light pollution, constant bonfires and foul odours. If these are one-off cases or only happen sporadically, it might not be worth taking a nuisance claim further as they may not be seen as unreasonable. 

What can you do to resolve a nuisance dispute?

No matter what a nuisance dispute is about, we’re sure all involved would want to get it nipped in the bud as soon as possible. 

If you feel that you have a case for a nuisance dispute with a neighbour and you’re unsure about the best way forward, here are some of the things we advise you to do. 

First, talk to them. To start any neighbour dispute resolution, we’d always recommend going to talk to your neighbour before taking the claim further. Put your concerns out there to the neighbour and give them a chance to rectify their behaviour – they may not have realised their actions were affecting you. If the problem no longer exists after a chat, it will have saved you a lot of time, money and tension that comes with formal legal proceedings.

However, if nothing changes and your neighbour is still disruptive after you’ve voiced your feelings, you can take your complaint to the local Council. The Council will look into your complaint and if they feel your neighbour’s actions are unreasonable, they will issue a warning to the offenders. 

Note that this can be a long process and may strain the relationship with your neighbour and whilst it is a good deterrent, it also doesn’t guarantee that the issue will be rectified quickly, effectively or at all. 

After following the above advice and remaining as civil as possible, the next appropriate step is to seek professional legal advice as a specialist solicitor will endeavour to help you reach a solution in the quickest and most cost-effective way, whilst hopefully avoiding having to go to court. 

What happens if your claim gets taken to court?

After taking legal advice, the likelihood of your claim going to court is minimised but not impossible. In extreme circumstances where legal proceedings are taken further, the civil court will do a balancing exercise, which will examine each case in depth and will take into account:

  • Location
  • Time 
  • Duration
  • Frequency
  • If it’s a malicious or reasonable act

These will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Find out more about how our specialist dispute resolution team can help you resolve a nuisance dispute here.

Written by Jonathan Cass

neighbour dispute, Nuisance Dispute, Property Dispute

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