5th May 2020
As many of us are adapting to lockdown lifestyle and working from home or staying home as much as possible, this inevitably means spending more time around our neighbours.
Whilst some communities have come together; helping one another, keeping in touch with group messages and chatting with the neighbours after the weekly NHS clap. Others are feeling like a prisoner in their own home as they endure weeks on end with neighbours from hell.
When moving to a new house, it is difficult to understand what your neighbours will be like, and even if you are lucky, someone new can always move into your street. Those unfortunate enough to experience problems with their neighbours will understand how stressful it can be. Without work or socialising as an escape anymore, your patience may be put to the test during lockdown.
It is important to realise that many people are struggling with their emotions during this difficult time. You or your neighbours may be stressed, have financial problems, be experiencing health issues or struggling with their mental health during lockdown.
It is important that you act with respect and take into account your own situation (and theirs) before speaking to your neighbours or taking any action.
You should ask yourself, are your neighbours really being unreasonable? Or are you reacting to a stressful situation?
Many people are using this time to make home improvements and children are off school. So remember that noise levels are likely to increase, but at the same time, it is not fair for your household to suffer.
Many people suffer from their neighbours making noise. This can be particularly stressful if they make noise at night, early in the morning or if you work shifts or have young children that have their sleep disturbed. Common complaints are loud music, parties, shouting, using power tools or continuous dog barking.
The best way to approach issues like this are to talk to your neighbour. They may not realise the noise that they are making can be heard through the walls. Hopefully talking calmly with your neighbour will help them be more considerate, however, be wary that not all people will take notice or be welcoming of a complaint.
If the noise disruptions to not improve or your neighbours are not approachable the next step would be to contact their landlord, housing association, local council or the police.
If you have other neighbours who are affected, it may be a good idea to speak to them to see if collectively you can resolve the issues.
If matters keep getting worse or your complaints are ignored, then it is time to speak to a solicitor who specialises in disputes to see what your next steps are. Sometimes a letter from a solicitor on headed paper can be enough to make your neighbours take responsibility. However, if more is needed then there are other routes such as mediation and court action.
We know that overall, as a country, most people are respecting the government rules about essential travel and social distancing to help flatten the curve. However, there are some who are pushing boundaries and breaking the rules who can risk us all having to spend longer in lockdown.
If you think that your neighbours are bending the rules or out-right breaking them then there are ways of reporting to your local authority.
Hampshire Police (or your local authority) have a dedicated website page for reporting breeches of the rules. It is important that you don’t take matters into your own hands when it comes to imposing lock down or social distancing rules and let the authorities deal with the matter if deemed necessary.
However, it is always worth being mindful. Remember that not all key workers wear a uniform, so do not assume that your neighbour is not working. Also, they may be out and about doing voluntary work or assisting vulnerable family members. Not all disabilities are visible, so if your neighbours have people visiting the property, be respectful that they may need assistance due to a disability or illness.
Another common issue between neighbours is access and boundaries. In many circumstances pathways, driveways, fences and out-buildings can become stressful issues between neighbours and often come to light when one household embarks on some building or renovations to their house or garden.
For many people, your home is your most valued asset and it is important to understand what your legal boundaries and restrictions are before starting any projects. Accessing the deeds to your property are a good starting point and it is worth speaking to a solicitor to check your legal rights if you have issues with a neighbour that are halting your building work or your neighbours are intruding on your property.
When you have disagreements with neighbours it is important to consider you and your family’s safety first and foremost. The last thing you want to do is aggravate unreasonable neighbours and escalate the situation you are in.
Try to have calm discussions and involve authorities rather than tackle disagreements by yourself. Document any or all issues with dates and times so that you have a clear timeline of events if things become more serious.
Firstly, speaking to a lawyer can give you some clarification and peace of mind. You can get a legal perspective of your situation and understand what can be done to resolve the matter.
Neighbour disputes are particularly sensitive as you want to remain as civil as possible so that you can continue to live next-door to each other for years to come without any issues re-arising.
A solicitor can contact your neighbours or liaise with landlords or housing associations on your behalf. They can also facilitate negotiations, medication, arbitration or assist you in preparing for court hearings. They can also represent you in court if things escalate.
Our solicitors continue to work through these times to offer access to legal services and advice to our clients, businesses and families.
It is possible to have a telephone or video call appointment with a lawyer from the safe comfort of your home in order to get some initial advice on next steps, or to fully instruct someone to help resolve neighbour disputes.
For more information please call 01256 844888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to our online chat assistant who is available on our website 24/7.
We hope we can help you find solutions to issues with your neighbours during lockdown and beyond.
Landlord’s Survival Guide
How to Resolve Disputes Amicably
Dealing With Noisy Neighbours in the Summer
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
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