Disputes with your neighbours can arise at any time and for many reasons, as a tenant it’s often hard to know what to do to resolve them.
You may have seen some of the TV programmes that have reported the shocking lengths some neighbours will go to when a dispute gets out of hand.
Fortunately, there are a lot of different things you can do to try and nip any problems in the bud. Here are some tips of what you can do and who you can go to for help.
You may have seen some of the TV programmes that have reported the shocking lengths some neighbours will go to when a dispute gets out of hand. From intercepting post to leaving rubbish on your property, it can become a difficult situation very quickly.
Neighbour disputes can arise for several different reasons, and at any time. Often unpleasant enough, disputes with your neighbours can be harder to handle if you’re living in a rented property – it can be difficult to find a resolution as a tenant. However, all is not lost – we’ve put together this short list of tips on how to handle neighbourly issues, and who you can go to for help should you need.
Try and solve the problem yourself: Approach your neighbour
Sometimes opening up channels of communication can be the quickest and easiest way to get to the heart of the dispute, even if it doesn’t fully resolve the problem. By showing a willingness to discuss the problem face-to-face, you may find your neighbour more amenable to finding a solution together.
The first step if you have a complaint about your neighbour is always to contact them directly first – they may not be aware of the issue, and this communication may resolve it. It also gives them time to consider the issue and take steps to remedy the situation.
If you’d had issues with the same neighbour in the past, you might feel as though you can’t talk to them face to face – perhaps they reacted negatively previously. At this point you could try writing to them instead. Putting a note through their door – properly addressed and signed off – may be helpful. Whilst witty and passive aggressive notes may score you some points on the internet, largely this method will be unhelpful in real life, so we suggest keeping it sincere and to the point.
Get help from another source: Landlords, Mediators, and Public Services
If you’ve tried to solve the issue yourself to no avail, there are a few different people and services that you can call on for help, depending on the nature of the dispute.
If your neighbour is also renting, and has refused to co-operate when approached, you can try speaking to their landlord. If you know who they are and can get in touch, they may be prepared to talk to their tenant.
You should also make your own landlord is aware of the issue, as it could affect their property and relationships within the community. They may also be able to help resolve the issue – it’s possible they will know who the neighbour’s landlord is if you do not, and be able to get in touch with them on your behalf.
If your approach has been unsuccessful, then you can contact local mediators. These can help both you and your neighbour come to an agreement in a timely and amicable manner.
The mediator will be someone impartial and they’ll be trained in dealing with disputes, acting as a referee. You can find someone local to help you at the Civil Mediation Council.
Your local council
If the issue is regarding a neighbourhood nuisance or health issue, you can speak to your local council for help. These issues are known as ‘statutory nuisances’ and could include:
- Noise – for example loud music, endless barking of an aggravated dog, constant shouting and arguing
- Artificial lights – keeping you awake (excluding street lamps)
- Dust, smells or insects
- Smoke, fumes and gases
- A build-up of rubbish that could be a health hazard
Your council will have a duty to investigate any statutory nuisances reported – but you should always try and resolve the problem yourself before contacting the council.
The environmental health department
If you believe that your neighbour is breaching the law in relation to public health or pollution, then you can inform the environmental health department.
If this is the case, your neighbour will likely get an informal visit from an environmental health officer who will explain the problem, asking them to rectify it. If this fails and the problem persists, they’ll be served a notice, requiring them to stop or deal with the nuisance.
Other Routes to Resolving Disputes
If a criminal offence is being committed, such as harassment, then you’re entitled to get the police involved. This could also involve breach of the peace, assault, or harassment because of any protected characteristics including religion, sex, gender, or race.
If you believe you’re being discriminated against, you’ll need help from experienced advisors, such as your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
The Citizens Advice Bureau also advises that you keep a log of when the issues are occurring, and keeping any evidence and photographs if you feel safe to do so – this can be important should the dispute need to be escalated.
Attempting to resolve a dispute with your neighbour can be both daunting and stressful. However, by doing your best to resolve the problem informally yourself, you’ll be taking the best possible step and hopefully the problem can be solved amicably.