I’m a legal expert – here’s four common neighbour spats and your rights explained including compensation

NEIGHBOURS from hell are a homeowner’s worst nightmare – legal expert Nick Martyn explains what your rights are if you’re having a bust-up with next door.

If you’re having a spat over a wonky fence, a new conservatory or a noisy neighbour, you could be in line for a pay out in some cases.

Property disputes expert Nick Martyn explains your rights when it comes to rowing with your neighbour

Property disputes expert Nick Martyn explains your rights when it comes to rowing with your neighbour

Mr Martyn is a partner at Royds Withy King and has helped clients resolve their property disputes for 15 years.

He explains what your rights are for a number of common fall outs – but says the key to getting a showdown settled is to talk reasonably with your neighbour.

If a disagreement gets to court, it will cost you far more in legal costs than it would to simply sit down and talk the matter out.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) offers a mediation service to neighbours for a fee, which is a good place to turn if you find you can’t agree.

Here are four of the most common spats – and what your rights are.

Fence issues

Recent wild and windy weather from Storm Eunice didn’t just damage the O2 arena – garden fences up and down the country were ripped down too.

But when it comes to replacing or repairing them, it can create tension between neighbours if it’s not done properly, Mr Martyn says.

If you put up a fence in the wrong place, it could be considered as trespassing in some cases if it goes over the boundary – which is the line marking where your land ends and your neighbour’s begins.

“Look at your deeds to see if you can get an understanding of where the boundary line legally exists,” Mr Martyn says.

“Be sure to look at whether there are any fence height regulations set by your local council as well.”

If the fence is over the boundary line or it’s too high and against the council rules, then Mr Martyn says it’s worth having a chat with your neighbour to see if you can resolve the issue and keep it from escalating. 

“Solving the issue with your neighbour directly and without a lawyer is sensible – the cost of a fence compared to legal fees is small.

“Don’t rub your neighbour up the wrong way, as it could be more difficult to solve.”

Noise complaints

There’s nothing worse than being kept awake by loud noises in the middle of the night.

If it’s a recurring problem and talking to your neighbour isn’t solving anything, you’ll need to get clued up on your rights, Mr Martyn says.

“I helped someone whose neighbour was a restaurant downstairs and they were living in the flat above,” he says.

“There were issues with noise coming from customers and restaurant machinery, and there were bad smells from hot oil and rubbish left outside.”

In cases like this where the problem has continued for a long time, the first step is to speak to your local council. 

“They should then investigate to see if ‘statutory nuisance’ is being committed,” he said.

“If it is, then an enforcement notice will be issued, which means that offending party has to put in place measures to stop what they’ve been doing.

“In the case I was dealing with, that meant the restaurant had to reduce the noise the kitchen equipment was making, remind customers to be quiet when leaving, and clear up and store the waste outside properly.”

You can find out which is your local council by using the gov.uk’s local authority checker tool.

Poor parking

If you have a shared driveway, there’s nothing more irritating than coming home to see your neighbour has parked up badly.

The most common disputes Mr Martyn deals with are when next door’s car is blocking access to your property.

If this is happening a lot, then it’s time for you to get your deeds out again.

If you don’t have a copy of your deeds, you can get them for as little as £3 from the Land Registry website.

This is so you can see what rights have been granted over your shared driveway, and where the boundary line lies. 

If your neighbour is parking over this line, then it’s time to have a word, Mr Martyn says.

Bad extensions

It’s always a heart dropping moment when you wake up one morning to discover building works are going on next door. 

But if your neighbour hasn’t told you about the works – or building works are crossing over onto your property – you could get them stopped, and even get a payout.

The “party wall act” is a rule whereby you have to give your neighbour formal notice about any work you’re undertaking at your home.

Fail to do this and you could be in breach of the rules – which means you could have to stop work.

If the extension is going into your property – for example, a new conservatory is hanging over into your garden and blocking your light – you could be in line for compensation.

“You could actually be trespassing on property if you build over boundary line – and your neighbour could prevent works going ahead, get the work removed or claim compensation – this again could cost you thousands of pounds and be a waste of your time.”

Garden plants can also cause conflicts, we round up your legal rights if your neighbour’s hedge is taking over your garden.

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Here is what you can do if your neighbour wants to take your fence down to accommodate their extension.

We also explain whether you are eligible for compensation if your neighbour’s “for sale” sign broke your fence.

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