Nuisance & Negligence
Noisy and troublesome neighbours can be a nightmare to deal with. When you want a peaceful life, having a dispute with a neighbour can be stressful and seriously impact your standard of life. You want to resolve your issues without having to resort to falling out. At Hodge Jones & Allen, that’s where we step in, helping to resolve issues between neighbours and effectively dealing with nuisance on your behalf.
The first rule is to keep in mind the special nature of any relationship between neighbours. Like it or not, you’ll be at each other’s mercy for as long as you remain neighbours, which may well be a long time. Even if you don’t like your neighbour, it’s important to try to get on with them.
You should, at all costs, diffuse the situation if you can, early on and as tactfully as possible, avoiding a pattern of worsening tit-for-tat. Even where you do go on to need to take firmer action, throughout the process you should not lose sight of this all-important first principle.
If you’re on the receiving end of legal action and need legal advice, you can also be fully assured that we’ll fight your corner to protect your rights. Contact our lawyers today.
What is nuisance?
Neighbours can cause a nuisance in many ways, such:
- Animal infestations
The nuisance might be coming from a residential neighbour or could be coming from commercial or industrial premises.
There are legal remedies available which can force neighbours to stop making a nuisance. If the nuisance continues, we can take your case to the courts and seek appropriate relief, including compensation.
We can also help you seek a remedy if you have suffered harm, a loss, or an infringement of your rights in property cases, where it can be proven that a duty of care was owed.
“The advice and support that I received from my solicitor was second to none. I was at a tricky, scary point of dealing with a difficult neighbour when my solicitor gave me clarity, a sense of security, and confidence that a solution would be found. No hesitation about recommending him specifically and HJA in general.”
What to do if you are dealing with nuisance?
If you are struggling with nuisance neighbours, the most important thing to do is act early. You should:
Keep an antisocial behaviour diary, and where appropriate support it with photos, videos, or sound recordings
Seek legal help
Our team can advise you on your options for taking things further. This might include advising you about which organisations can assist and putting your case to them as effectively as possible to provoke action.
Make a claim
Our solicitors will be able to help you bring a claim for a civil injunction, but this will not usually be appropriate until all other steps have been exhausted.
How can an injunction help me?
If you’re experiencing problems with neighbours, an injunction can put a stop to those problems quickly and effectively. An injunction is a Court Order requiring someone to act or stop acting in a certain way. Significant penalties can be incurred by anyone breaching the injunction.
Injunctions can stop neighbours from:
- Removing a wall or fence
- Starting building works which could be detrimental to you
- Engaging in anti-social behaviour such as noise, harassment or leaving rubbish
- Continuing harmful use of a property
Injunctions can be daunting and complex, and it’s quite likely you have never had to deal with them before. We can simplify the process, so you have one less thing to worry about at this stressful time.
Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors?
We can help you prepare a strategy on how to engage with your neighbours to place you in a stronger position ahead of a dispute. Should matters become more complex or aggravated, then we can often resolve your dispute by providing legal clarity.
If you need to take further legal action, our team can provide all the experience you need to settle your dispute in court or fight your corner at trial to maximise your chances of success.
We’ll always look to keep our operating cost at a reasonable rate, ensuring you get value for your money without the added stress of finding the right funds.
How can I resolve this situation?
1. Let your neighbour know there is a problem early on
Your neighbour may not know the effect their behaviour is having on you and simply bringing it to their attention in a non-confrontational way may be enough.
Diffusing the situation means chatting to your neighbour in the first instance and persuading them that there’s a problem. You should aim to do this before the relationship becomes too acrimonious, and before taking any drastic action.
2. Keep an antisocial behaviour diary, and were appropriate support it with evidence
Whatever further steps you need to take, it’ll help if you’ve kept records. This will help you show specific details about:
- What your neighbour has been doing
- Dates and times
- How it has affected you
- What attempts you have made to resolve it.
Record this in a dedicated diary and keep it up to date. Don’t worry if it becomes repetitive – the important thing is to keep it up. Consider also taking photographs or making recordings.
3. Discuss the problem with your other neighbours
It may be that your other neighbours are experiencing similar problems, and they may be able to help you bring it to an end. Consider approaching your residents’ association – if you have one.
Keep in mind however that your objective is to diffuse the situation if you can, and you should avoid alienating the neighbour who is causing the problem if possible.
4. Consider legal advice about what further steps you should take
A legal adviser can advise you on your options for taking things further, if you haven’t been able to resolve the dispute or put an end to the antisocial behaviour yourself. This might include advising you about which organisations can assist and putting your case to them as effectively as possible.
It may help for a solicitor to draft a letter to your neighbour for you to send in your name, explaining that there’s a problem and asking them to stop. Alternatively, a letter from a solicitor at this stage may be an effective way of convincing them that things have become serious, by warning them about the potential consequences of continuing.
5. Consider having mediation with your neighbour
If discussing the problem with your neighbour leads to a stand-off, mediation may help. The purpose of mediation is to cut through misunderstandings on either side about what the problem is. A trained mediator will help make sure that each side listens to and considers the grievances of the other. This is particularly important where the dispute has already taken the form of a tit-for-tat, and both sides feel that the other is in the wrong.
It’s important to go into mediation with an open mind and think about concessions you can trade with your neighbour to make life more bearable for you both. Your landlord or the local council may be able to provide funding for mediation for you.
6. Contact your neighbour’s landlord to let them know about the problem
If your neighbour’s renting their property, it’s likely that there’s a tenancy agreement prohibiting antisocial behaviour at the property. If there’s a problem, you should raise it with the landlord early on, but not before you have first raised it with your neighbour directly.
If you and your neighbour have the same landlord, they may well assist as a go-between, or help to arrange for mediation. They may carry out an investigation, such as gathering evidence of noise nuisance by installing noise monitors.
Ultimately, the landlord can take action to repossess the property if the antisocial behaviour carries on. Bear in mind, however, that this is likely to be an option of very last resort for your landlord.
7. Approach your local authority for help
Your local authority will be able to take preventative action against your neighbour if the antisocial behaviour does not stop
Your local authority may have a dedicated department for dealing with antisocial behaviour, and will, in any event, have broad powers to intervene, mediate and apply to the court to obtain an order criminalising further antisocial behaviour.
8. If your neighbour breaks the law
It may be appropriate to call the police about your neighbour’s behaviour. Criminal antisocial behaviour will include:
- Violent or threatening behaviour
- Breaches of the peace
- Harassment – and particularly harassment based on your ethnic background, religion or sexuality.
9. Consider bringing a civil action in the courts against your neighbour
If you haven’t been able to resolve the dispute with your neighbour yourself, or by appealing for help to your neighbour’s landlord, the local authority, or the police, then it may be appropriate to bring a civil claim under the Protection From Harassment Act or for common law private nuisance.
This would help you obtain an injunction against your neighbour, preventing them from engaging in the antisocial behaviour that was the subject of your claim. It would then be a criminal offence for your neighbour to breach the injunction.