If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience problem neighbours, you’ll know just how frustrating it can be to not live harmoniously with those residing next door. Noisy neighbours can be a real pain to deal with, while neighbours who carry out works on their home don’t always do so with neighbourly sensitivity in mind. However, a problem with your neighbours can be a significant emotional situation, and that can cloud your judgement as to what the best course of action might be. It’s best to instead think carefully about how to deal with problem neighbours and choose a course of action which suits both your personalities and the situation.
A calm chat
In almost all situations involving problematic neighbours, speaking to them first is a good way to reduce the level of tension and mitigate the chance of any future aggression. This can seem daunting at first, especially in a society in which fewer and fewer people have good relations with their neighbours. However, taking the plunge and knocking on someone’s door is a great way to nip things in the bud and avoid further confrontation further down the line.
In most cases, your neighbour will most likely be mortified to discover that something they have done has caused problems for neighbourly relations. Often, all it takes is a polite word and then the issue will go away. By stating your case calmly and clearly and by not bringing feelings into the equation, it may be possible to secure the support of your neighbour to work towards common goals for both you and them.
However, you shouldn’t approach a problem neighbour for a chat if you suspect that there may be a risk. If they ever behave in a belligerent manner towards you, for example, approaching them is not necessarily a good idea. If you are concerned that their home may be used for purposes such as drug dealing, it’s wise to steer clear completely. Remember that if you ever have a direct reason to feel threatened in your home you should immediately call the police and explain the situation.
Your own home
Just because a problem is happening outside of your own home doesn’t mean that you can’t take steps to mitigate the problem within your own home. Take the example of loud noise. This may originate from outside of your home, but you can reduce its impact on you within your own with the help of some good quality earplugs. Alternatively, you may find that you are able to install some sort of insulation which reduces the amount of noise flowing from one building to the next.
At first, you may find yourself frustrated with this kind of course of action due to the fact that it shifts the responsibility for dealing with it on to you rather than tackling it at its root cause with the neighbour, but it’s worth trying at least. You may find that earplugs are more than enough to solve the problem and that they are a better solution than getting involved in an extended process of complaining. This is especially true if you have already taken steps to win over your neighbour to no avail.
Know your rights
Sometimes, neither a solution within your own home nor a calm chat with the neighbour in question is enough to fix things. If that happens, the first thing to do is to ensure that you know your rights. Your local authority, for example, might have rules about the time at which noise needs to end. If your neighbours are regularly making noise beyond then, the council may be able to issue them with a noise abatement order. In the event that this is not followed, a maximum fine of £5,000 can be levied.
Your local authority is likely to be especially helpful in the event of a planning dispute too. If your neighbour proposes a significant structural alteration to their home, and especially an extension, you may be entitled to have your views heard about it. Ensure you lookout for any letters from the local authority which explain to you how to do this, and also check printed messages posted to trees or lampposts in the area which may indicate that a local consultation is underway.
If all else fails, the only way to effectively solve the problem may be to move on. As a homeowner, you have the ability to put your home up for sale – and if the problem with the neighbours cannot be fixed in any other way, this might just be what you have to do. Selling up may seem like a dramatic solution, but the reality is that people sell up for complicated reasons all the time. A bad neighbourly relationship is just one of many justifications that people use when moving on.
If you’ve made complaints about your neighbours to any authorities in the past though, it’s wise to mention the nature of these to your solicitor. That way, they’ll be able to check whether or not these need to be declared to the people who are buying your place from you – and therefore protect you from future legal cases or similar.
Problem neighbours have existed ever since people began living in close proximity to each other. It’s almost inevitable that every person will get a problem neighbour of some variety from time to time. What matters, though, is how you deal with them. By exploring the many different tips outlined above, you’ll be able to find the course of action which is likely to work best for you and to put an end to whatever problems you’re experiencing from next door.
If you’re finding it difficult to sell your home, either because of problem neighbours or for another reason, speaking to Spring can be a great help. Learn more about our service here.
After we receive your details, one of our Property Advisors will call you within 24 hours to confirm details about your home and to explain our process if you choose to proceed. For more about selling your home to Spring see How it Works.