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This article first featured on our partners website, DAS Law.

Each summer, as the sun casts its glow and the days longer, our neighbourhoods burst into vibrant life, with plants flourishing and streets buzzing. Yet, this season of warmth often ushers in the potential for neighbours’ disputes, whether over noise from late-night gatherings or disagreements about overgrown foliage.

While many of us maintain friendly bonds with those who live nearby, occasionally, these relationships can take a turn for the worse, leading to conflicts.

Sahib Ullah Raj, legal adviser at DAS Law, delves into the common quarrels that can arise between neighbours and outlines the legal avenues available for resolution.

Whose responsibility is it to repair or replace an adjoining broken fence?

Initially it is best to look at property deeds to assess whether it is clear who is obliged to fix a broken fence. In most cases deeds can be found through the Land Registry.

If the deeds are unclear, then it may be necessary to consider whether a precedent has been set where one party has normally repaired the fence. If so, arguably you could ask that they take steps to fix it again. It is also possible for neighbours to agree between themselves who will fix a fence and how this would be done.

My neighbours have refused to fix their fence which adjoins my property, what can I do?

If it is a neighbour’s obligation to fix a fence and they are not willing to do so, it may be necessary to put your concerns in writing to them asking them to take action or to try and reach an agreement with them.

If this is unsuccessful it may be necessary to take legal advice on the matter, although you will be unable to force a neighbour to maintain their fence unless it is causing damage or a nuisance to you or is trespassing on your property. You also have the option to install your own fence on your land, however, you would need to make it clear that this was not intended to alter the boundary lines of the property.

Does your neighbour have a duty to control harmful weeds and invasive plant species which are affecting your garden?

A neighbour does have a duty to prevent the spreading of harmful and invasive plant species. If a neighbour fails to take preventative steps there may be potential claims that can be taken against them. Legal advice would need to be taken on these claims.

There are also avenues to make complaints about a neighbour’s failings, potential prosecutions that they may face and guidance as to how they should control or remove certain species. There are dedicated government websites that offer guidance on prevention of harmful weeds and how to deal with invasive non-native plants spreading.

My neighbours are constantly creating noise, what can I do? can I sue for damages if the noise is disturbing mine and my family’s peace and quiet?

In the first instance it would be worth speaking with the neighbour to see if there is anything they can do to stop the noise. The nuisance can be reported to the council who may investigate and take enforcement action. If the local authority is unwilling to become involved, then a criminal nuisance claim can be started.

Alternatively, there is also the option of bringing a civil nuisance claim for an injunction and damages. Each case will however revolve around its own facts and awards that will vary dependant on the severity of the situation and it is advisable to seek legal advice before initiating such claims.

My neighbour is having a party, and some of their guests have parked in my drive; can I block them in?

If someone has parked on your driveway and you were to block them in, your vehicle may be causing an obstruction to the public highway, and this is a criminal offence. So, the owner of the vehicle could call the police.

My car was damaged/vandalised by a guest attending a neighbour's party – Can I claim the cost of repair from my neighbour?

Unless the neighbour themself is at fault, they cannot be pursued for a situation caused by a third party. There has to be an element of culpability if you wanted to claim the costs of repairs from your neighbour, perhaps if they had created the dangerous situation.

What recourse do I have if my neighbour’s bonfire is causing a nuisance?

If your neighbour’s bonfire is affecting you, the first step would be to raise it with the neighbour to make them aware of the impact the bonfire has on you.

If this fails, then you may be able to get a court order restricting the neighbour’s ability to have a bonfire. But the occasional bonfire is unlikely to amount to a legal nuisance and legal advice should be sought when considering legal action against your neighbour.

If you neighbour is burning hazardous material, you can report the neighbour to the environmental health team within your local authority.

General advice

We would always advise diplomacy when dealing with people who live near you; seeking legal guidance for your exact circumstances can give clarity to the situation. Legal expenses insurance sold as an add-on to or as part of your home insurance may provide cover for legal disputes with neighbours and often come with access to a legal advice helpline.

Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.