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How to deal with Neighbour disputes

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At this time of year our litigation solicitors often get calls about overhanging branches and the problem of big trees, but this is just one of the many legal issues that can occur when a relationship between neighbours turns sour.

Land disputes, property wall issues, a right to light, boundary disputes, planning objections and nuisance neighbours are all issues our experienced litigation team advise on.  These issues can affect both residential and commercial properties.

After months of spending more time in our homes and gardens and in close proximity to our neighbours these areas have become flashpoints.

How to resolve neighbour disputes?

Boundary Disputes

When there is an issue between boundaries this can be a complex area of the law and it is essential that legal advice is obtained early.  Often over time, especially in older properties, boundaries have become blurred.

“Sometimes extensions and fences have altered the topography and layout of the area and often property owners think the boundary between their property and their neighbours is in a straight line down the middle of the land, but this is not always the case,” said Commercial Litigation Director at Pearson, Chris Burke.

After reviewing title deeds, land registry documents, photographs and historical documents, surveyors for each side in the case can often come to different conclusions. Some cases will end up in court and the Judge makes a decision based on all of the evidence provided by both sides.

“Litigation should however be a last resort and we usually manage to sort these issues out for our clients through appropriate legal correspondence, mediation or on site meetings between all parties,” said Chris.

Right to Light

Your Right to Light is exactly what it says – it is acquired expressly as stated in your deeds and is a right which is also acquired over a long period of time.  At Pearson Solicitors, we have seen an increase in instructions for clients whose rights have been affected by building works (such as extensions) being built by their neighbours.

Expert evidence is usually required from a specialist Right to Light surveyor in such cases.

Private Nuisance

In law a private nuisance is something that is done by a person which interferes with another person’s rights over their land and home.  Sometimes a quick chat with one of our team can help resolve the issue and let you know how you stand legally.  Sometimes action is needed and we can represent you and help by seeking an injunction to prevent the ongoing nuisance, and, or help you claim any damages to compensate for any losses, stress and time used.

In one case the Technology and Construction Court found that a builder had taken too long to renovate a property and had caused disruption and private nuisance to neighbours in an adjoining property.

Sporadic building work, excessive banging, noise, dust, scaffolding in place for a long time limiting privacy were found to be unreasonable and it was ruled that the neighbour experienced a loss of the enjoyment of their property.  It is determined on a case by case basis as to what is deemed unreasonable.

Your legal rights in Neighbour Disputes

As they say ‘forewarned is forearmed’ so always check the deeds of your property before undertaking anything that affects the boundary with a neighbour and be aware of a neighbour’s rights under the Party Wall Act 1996.

Even if you’re already in dispute with neighbours it may not be too late to avoid litigation and we can advise on mediation, which can often be the key to a smooth successful outcome for all parties.

In the event of no agreement being reached, it’s important to have a solicitor with specialist experience of boundary disputes and neighbour disputes.

Ultimately unless you plan to move it’s always advisable to keep the peace and avoid costly court action.

Contact us for Litigation Advice

For advice on all aspects of neighbour disputes or simply want advice on a boundary dispute contact our civil litigation department at Pearson Solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email enquiries@pearsonlegal.co.uk

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Christopher Burke

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