Neighbour Dispute Solicitors

Unfortunately, issues with neighbours are commonplace in today’s world and can be very stressful and expensive.

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Our neighbour dispute solicitors have an enviable track-record

Neighbour disputes can be triggered by a whole host of different things, including arguments about where boundaries are, replacement of fences, walls, and hedges or removal of those items, trespass and encroachment, noise, general nuisance, antisocial behaviour, and pets, to name just a few. 

It is always best to try to resolve these issues amicably and to remain friendly and neighbourly because, even once the dispute is over, you still have to live close to your neighbour. 

However, if you need legal assistance, we are highly experienced in guiding you through the process. Court proceedings should always be a last resort, and very often, matters can be quickly resolved once one party realises that things have become serious and could escalate even further. 

We are keen advocates for all types of alternative dispute resolution, including meetings with the other party and mediation. We have significant mediation experience and can guide you on how to get the most out of the process.

Request legal advice on a neighbour dispute

What is a neighbour dispute?

There are numerous types of neighbour dispute. We have covered the most common below:

Trees and high hedges

The height of trees and hedges can be an issue if the height blocks light into your property and your neighbour refuses to reduce the height. Local councils can help with high hedges, and their assistance should always be sought first to avoid potentially significant legal costs. 

Tree roots and overhanging branches are also common disputes, and we can help resolve them if they are causing you a nuisance. 

Fence disputes

The renewal and replacement of fences can often cause issues between neighbours, perhaps if one party puts in a new fence and it is not along precisely the same line as before. Even a re-location of a few inches can be a trespass and spark a boundary dispute. It is always best to discuss and agree on works with your neighbour if you can to avoid any issues. 

We are also often asked to advise on who has to maintain a particular fence. It is a common misconception that a homeowner automatically has to look after the fence on their right-hand side, but it could well be that the deeds say something different or that there has been a different convention in reality.

Right to light

Issues around reduced light in a property can be concerning if your neighbour wants to alter/extend their property. We can help you instruct a specialist 'right of light' surveyor who will calculate the potential loss of lumens into your property and guide you on whether such loss gives rise to a possible claim against your neighbour and whether you can stop the proposed development. 

A surveyor will determine whether the loss of light will make rooms in your home unreasonably dark and unusable. 

Rights of way 

A party may have walked across neighbouring land for many years without issues, but when the affected property changes hands, the new owner is unhappy with the continued use. 

We frequently advise on whether rights of way exist and, if they are not written into a document, whether you have acquired a right through long use for over 20 years. 

We are also very experienced in advising on whether an existing right of way can be used if your neighbour wants to develop their land and increase the traffic using the road or change the extent of the access. 

Access to neighbouring land

The Access to Neighbouring Land Act was enacted in 1992 to reduce the number of disputes relating to neighbours wanting to temporarily enter the property next door and carry out maintenance or repairs to their own property. 

The 1992 Act gives homeowners various rights, but we can help if your neighbour is being unreasonable or difficult and refusing access. 

We can guide you through what the 1992 Act allows you to do and when and where you may need help from the court. 

Nuisance noise complaints

Living in close proximity to others can result in issues regarding noise. What some people can tolerate is intolerable to others, and we can help resolve issues with noise, whether that is loud music, pets, children, or soundproofing. 

Private nuisance

This is usually caused by a person doing something on their own land (use), which they are lawfully entitled to do but which wrongfully interferes with the ordinary use and enjoyment of neighbouring land by, for example, causing physical damage. Damage is not always an essential requirement of the cause of action for nuisance. The concept of damage in the context of nuisance is highly elastic.

The damage or interference with the enjoyment of the neighbour's land:

  • Must be substantial or unreasonable. 
  • Can arise from a single incident or a "state of affairs". 
  • It can be caused by inaction or omission as well as by some positive activity.

Parking disputes

Parking disputes are common when two neighbours share the same area or when one party has to drive over the other's land to park. When new houses are built, express provisions are usually made to provide for such a situation and the rights and obligations each party has, but sometimes, one party acts outside of the terms of their rights or fails to agree to pay maintenance and repair charges. We can help with all of these issues. 

We can also help if you have been parking on land that you do not own for over 20 years and want to register a right to do so now. 

Animal behaviour 

Although a neighbour can keep pets and animals at their home (unless they are renting, and there may be a prohibition on this in their lease), no one is permitted to do anything within their own property that causes another a nuisance. 

We routinely advise on issues arising from pets, including barking dogs and noisy cockerels, and can steer you through the legal rights and remedies you may have. 

Boundary disputes 

The most common issue between neighbours is boundary disputes. One party believes that longstanding boundary features are in the wrong position, or one of the properties comes into new ownership, and the new owner replaces old boundary features, sparking a dispute. 

It is a misconception that HM Land Registry plans are definitive at showing the position of a legal boundary line; they are usually only for indication purposes. 

We frequently see trespass arguments once a boundary dispute starts, and often, adverse possession (squatters' rights) claims are also relevant. 

Breach of covenant

There are two main areas where we commonly encounter covenant issues. The first is with shared flats, where each tenant is likely to have promised not to do or do certain things (not to hang washing outside the windows or promise to maintain specific areas). Disputes are common where one or more parties do not adhere to their promises, and it causes a fellow neighbour damage or distress. 

The other huge area of contention relates to covenants related to use and development. Sometimes, a covenant is imposed when land is sold off that limits its use ( to residential use only), and many years later, a new owner wants to build on the land and operate a commercial use. We have years of experience advising what rights and remedies a party with the benefit or burden of such a covenant has and what action they can take. 

Japanese knotweed

Feared by land owners, this highly invasive plant spreads rapidly and gets out of control very quickly if left untreated. 

Some types of bamboo can be equally problematic, but we are experienced in helping land owners affected by invasive plants if they want to sell their property, guiding you through what you need to disclose. We can also assist if you think your land is being invaded by knotweed and it is coming from next door. 

Trespass claims

These claims often arise where there is a boundary dispute, but they can also be stand-alone claims where a neighbour is using your land, parking or storing items on it, or has built over your land. 

You must prove beyond doubt that there is an encroachment and that you own the affected land, so a first step is to always seek legal advice and help from a surveyor before you raise anything with your neighbour. 

Resolving neighbour disputes 

Understanding your legal position is an essential first step. You should always know the strength of your position before you raise any issue with your neighbour to ensure that you don't have to backtrack further down the line. 

Where possible, even if legal advice has been sought, we encourage our clients to attempt to discuss matters with their neighbours to see if a sensible solution can be agreed upon. 

If that isn't possible, we have decades of combined experience in resolving disputes, including court proceedings as a last resort. 

We will always encourage our clients to explore all avenues for alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, which, in our experience, has a very high success rate. 

Claiming compensation

In legal terms, compensation is known as damages. Depending on the type of dispute, the other party may be ordered to pay damages, but in some instances, only a small amount may be payable. We call this nominal damages. 

Early advice should always be sought about whether damages are relevant to your case. 

"Peter is extremely personable and has always represented us effectively, thoroughly analysing the issues faced and discussing all options with us before any action is taken"

A satisfied client

"Nyree was presented with a very tricky situation and navigated us through the whole process to a successful conclusion."

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"I had a great experience… they helped me through a tough legal process”

A satisfied client

Why choose us as your neighbour dispute lawyers

With decades of experience in the team, there are very few neighbour disputes that we have yet to come across and help people with. 

We can navigate you through the issues and help you reach a satisfactory conclusion. 

We recognise the stress and emotion involved in a dispute with a neighbour and always strive to minimise the mental and financial toll it can take. 

If court proceedings are the last resort and have to be pursued, we will provide you with full and frank cost information at every stage.  

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FAQs

We would always advise that you disclose details, even if the situation is resolved and happened a few years ago, to avoid any possible recurrence and later claims for misrepresentation. 

Each party is responsible for its own legal and surveying costs, but if court proceedings are issued and the matter is not settled before trial, then the court has the power to order that the successful party has its costs paid by the unsuccessful party. 

We always suggest that you approach your neighbour and try to resolve matters first, but if that is impossible, then yes, a lawyer should be instructed. 

The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 does give you some rights to access a neighbouring property after giving written notice, but the Act only covers some situations. 

Damages for nuisance may be available but are only likely to be paid after court proceedings are issued and are only likely to be low value in any event. 

Get early legal advice to understand your rights and remedies and instruct a lawyer with experience dealing with individuals and neighbour disputes as their specialism. 

Meet the neighbour disputes team