Fences, tall trees and hedges, noisy dogs – they can all be the cause of neighbourhood disputes.
It is not possible to provide a standard set of guidelines for dealing with every neighbour problem because the problems are so varied and solutions vary on the case.
For instance, if you want to carry out repairs to property or land you may need to have access to your neighbouring property or land.
There may be a right of entry specifically for the purpose of inspection or repair in the property’s legal documents. If there is no such right, or no agreement can be reached, the law allows you as the person wishing to carry out repairs to apply to the county court for access. There is a fee for the application.
Where there is a shared amenity which is in need of repair the first step is to find out who is responsible for repairs. The legal documents may not provide clear evidence so it is best to settle in advance that costs will be shared.
The next stage will probably be to get a surveyor or architect to inspect and report on the part of the property requiring repairs. Estimates will have to be sought and finally a contract made with builders. It is essential that at each stage when a cost is incurred the household initiating the repairs has the consent of the other parties responsible.
If some or all of the property involved is rented, the landlord may be liable for repairs.
If a dispute arises about the boundary between properties, it is necessary to establish who owns the disputed land. The primary evidence will be contained in the legal documents. Clear evidence of this kind is normally conclusive.
However, the boundaries between properties can differ from those described in the title documents or lease in certain circumstances. The most common are where they have been changed by agreement or by encroachment (occupation without permission). For more information about boundary disputes, see the RICS website at rics.org
RICS also operates a boundary disputes helpline. They can put you in touch with a surveyor trained in boundary disputes who can give you 30 minutes’ free advice. The helpline number is 024 7686 8555.