When neighbours lock horns in dispute

When it comes to home ownership unfortunately there are times when it can prove difficult to “Love thy neighbour”.

Perhaps the neighbour has decided that they want more privacy and has allowed the Leylandii hedge to grow to a height where it becomes anti social, blocking your light. In fact, legislation has been introduced to tackle the “growing” problem of “hedge wars!”

Other anti social behaviour can really make your life miserable and escalate into conflicts. It may start out with petty behaviour but in the more extreme cases it can escalate in to malicious damage to property or even threats and physical violence. Neighbour disputes tend to be a low priority for the Police. Part of the difficulty being a of lack of evidence, particularly when it’s verbal. Also, it is not unusual for one person’s version of events to completely contradict the other.

Finding the common ground

The need to get on with neighbours is brought in to focus where it is in the common interest to find a resolution to a situation that, if left unchecked, would damage both parties. Flat owners need to co-operate over repairs to common or shared items such as the roof , the gutters and down pipes.  Leaky rainwater goods will allow further damage to your property and cause greater expense in the long run.  It could also blight the sale for any party hoping to sell up and move on.

The shared drive

Another problem area frequently encountered, and often resulting in stalemate, is the shared drive. This is particularly so where the rights and obligations to contribute to its upkeep are not clearly specified. This includes the proportion to be contributed to and the standard to be achieved, of the repair or renewal. The more parties who are involved in decision-making the less likely unanimity of view is to be achieved. Sometimes help is needed to find a formula for breaking the deadlock.

Boundary Walls

Boundary walls are generally less fraught as it’s only the parties either side who are affected. But even with two it’s easy to fall out with your neighbour over what should be done and the scope of repair. Perhaps an old dry stone boundary wall is in need of repair and one side wants it replaced with a cheaper brick and breeze block version. Reinstating the wall with a craft of a by gone age is more in keeping but it is inevitably the more expensive option. But what happens when the wall fails after a few years instead of the decades that may have been expected of a more thorough repair?

There is no point crying over spilt milk or tumble down walls but if there is no agreement both neighbours are left without a wall. This could affect the value of both properties and attracting adverse comments should you put your property on market for sale.

On a day-to-day level a breached wall allows family pets to wander and trespass onto the neighbours. Yet another potential cause for dispute!

Hastings Legal are here to help

So what can you do to avoid locking horns with the neighbours leaving both of you with a headache?

Fortunately there is a legal solution either in terms of the title deeds or, commonly where there is no reference to the relevant part of the property, owners can break the deadlock by following the procedures laid down in The Tenement (Scotland) Act.

The need to follow procedure

Unfortunately most owners are unaware of and do not appreciate the need to follow the procedures specified in The Tenement (Scotland) Act. If they simply go ahead and take action and then land the bill for repairs on the neighbour they may find they are unable to recover the neighbours share.

Finding an amicable resolution

At Hastings Legal we often advise clients and we usually seek a pro active solution. Often the other owners will accept the situation better when it explained by an informed third party what the legal position is.

No-one benefits from a protracted vendetta and with an agreed resolution life can return to normal with peace in the valley and happy neighbours.

Give us a call for help to resolve neighbourhood issues.
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“Nothing makes you more tolerant of a neighbour’s noisy party than being there.”Franklin P. Jone
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