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Is it Really Worth Falling Out with Neighbours?

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Traditionally Christmas is a time when neighbours get together and old hatchets are buried in a festive spirit of goodwill. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Often boundary disputes that start as a small gripe, escalate to litigation with all the cost and stress associated with legal action.

It’s an issue that can affect both residential and commercial properties, and covers a wide range of disputes including right of way, partition walls, high hedges, overhanging trees, building work and access to a neighbour’s land for repairs on your own property.

There are some simple steps that you can take to avoid disputes with your neighbours.

  • Check the deeds of your property before undertaking any repairs, modifications or building work that affects a boundary with a neighbour as you must be certain that you do have a legal right to make any changes

  • If you’re buying a property by auction, it’s particularly important to ensure you research the details of the property thoroughly, to make sure you know if you are legally entitled to make any modifications you’re planning. You should also ensure you’re aware if a property you’re buying is listed and what restrictions and responsibilities any listing brings with it

  • The best way to avoid a negative response to your plans is to communicate on friendly terms before you take any action.  This includes any changes to your own property that could affect your neighbour’s property or right of way, in addition to any action you may wish to take to remove overhanging branches or alter boundary walls, for example. Too often, however, this doesn’t happen and, by the time any communication begins, the matter has already become a bone of contention, resulting in an acrimonious exchange of views that can quickly lead to legal action

  • It’s still not too late to avoid litigation, even if you’re already in dispute with neighbours. You may be able to discuss the matter with your neighbour to find a mutually acceptable solution and mediation can often be the key to facilitating a successful outcome.

  • If, even after mediation, no agreement can be reached, it’s important that you consult a solicitor with specialist experience of boundary disputes. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on the legal position of your individual situation so that you can assess the likelihood of a positive outcome in court

It’s worth remembering, that even winning in court may not be an end to the situation. The long term outcome could be continued hostility between you and your neighbour, so think carefully about how pursuing a dispute could affect your family or your business.


For further information on this matter please contact Christopher Burke on 0161 785 3500 or email



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.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Christopher Burke


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