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How to resolve a neighbour dispute

Resolving a neighbour dispute can be stressful and challenging, especially if the issue relates to a property renovation as this can also cause costly delays. In this blog, we look at how to resolve a neighbour dispute without escalating the situation further. We will explore some common neighbour disputes and outline the steps you can take to resolve them. With the right approach and legal guidance, it’s possible to reach a mutually agreeable solution.



Disputes over party walls


A ‘party wall’ is the wall that separates two properties and is shared by both owners, for example, a semi-detached house. Disputes over party walls can arise when one owner wants to carry out work that affects the wall, such as building an extension or carrying out renovations. If you plan to carry out works on a shared party wall that go beyond surface decoration, you must give notice to your neighbour, and they must give notice to you.


In these situations, it’s important to ensure that both owners agree to the proposed work and that it complies with the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. If a dispute arises, the first step is to try to resolve it through negotiation. If this is not possible, you could appoint a party wall surveyor or seek legal advice on party walls using an experienced solicitor. If the work goes ahead without coming to an agreement, the matter could result in a costly court hearing.


Disputes over land boundaries


Disputes over land boundaries can occur when one property owner believes that the boundary between their property and their neighbour's property is in the wrong place. In these situations, it’s important to establish the correct boundary line. First, check the property deeds and title plan. Sometimes these do not show the exact boundary line, so it may be necessary to obtain a boundary survey.


Your dispute resolution solicitor will help you reach a resolution through negotiation by making a boundary agreement. If you and your neighbour still cannot agree, the dispute may need to be resolved through the courts.


Disputes about trees


Disputes about overhanging trees often occur when one property owner feels their neighbour's trees are becoming a nuisance. In some cases, large root systems can cause damage to building foundations. It’s worth noting that large trees within certain distances of a property should be stated in your house insurance policy. This is because there’s a risk of subsidence and other potential damage to pipework and the foundations of a property.


If a dispute arises about a neighbour’s tree, the first step is to try to resolve it through negotiation. You could also look at obtaining a tree survey, which will provide information about the tree’s impact on your property. If you are only concerned with the impact of overhanging branches, you are allowed to trim branches that cross over into your property. If you cut more than this, your neighbour could claim for damages and take you to court.


Disputes over hedges


A common dispute is where someone is unhappy that a neighbour's hedge is blocking light or causing damage in some way to their property. They may have asked the neighbour to cut the hedge and they have refused, or they may have cut the hedge without their neighbour’s permission. This situation can escalate into a full dispute if not handled properly.


Firstly, it’s important to establish the height of the hedge. Is the hedge over 2 metres tall? Does it consist mainly of shrubs or evergreen trees? Is it affecting the enjoyment of your garden? If so, you can complain by writing to your local council. Similar to tree cutting, you can only trim branches that cross over into your property. If you trim more than this amount, your neighbour could argue you have damaged their property and then take you to court.


Trying to resolve a neighbour dispute can be very stressful, so it’s important to use the right approach and seek legal guidance. Our dispute resolution team have a wealth of experience when it comes to resolving a wide range of neighbour disputes. We will provide you with professional advice to try and resolve the disagreement.


Salusbury Harding & Barlow can help you navigate a dispute with a neighbour, so you can find a mutually agreeable solution that works for both parties. Whether the dispute is over a party wall, boundary or another matter, our experienced dispute resolution team will always aim to settle the matter out of court.


If you need advice on a dispute with a neighbour, get in touch or email: andrewwhitfield@shbsolicitors.co.uk to arrange a face-to-face or telephone appointment.

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