A LEADING NORTH EAST firm of solicitors are warning that homeowners who take their noisy neighbours to court may end up making their house unsaleable.
Durham-based EMG Solicitors specialise in probate, trusts and land disputes and say that clashes between neighbours are on the rise.
But they are advising that a less confrontational and more conciliatory approach will be more effective in the long run.
Their words of advice come hot on the heels of a huge pool party which took place at a bungalow in Surrey, which ended with one person being shot.
While the chances of such a tragic outcome are rare, loud music and noisy parties are often the reason why neighbours go to war with each other.
Ursula Collie, a consultant with EMG Solicitors, said that however tempting it is to take someone to court, it is far better to try and resolve the matter amicably.
Inconsiderate parking, noisy kids, rude comments about the state of a garden – the solicitor added that these are just some of the causes of troubles in a street.
“It is hard to underestimate the enormous aggravation that a neighbour dispute causes,” said Ursula.
“After all, the person is right there and you can’t ignore it. The whole thing gets right under your skin.”
Ursula’s advice is to initially try and talk to the neighbour and resolve the issue.
“Many people feel they just can’t do this,” she said.
“Either they are too angry to do themselves justice, or they think the neighbour won’t listen to reason. But most neighbours are not actually evil. You may be surprised what can be achieved with a bit of diplomacy over a cup of coffee.”
If that doesn’t work and the neighbour continues to offend, the solicitor still advises against going to court.
“The urge to litigate comes from sheer frustration and also from the desire to have the neighbour told off by someone in authority, but court action is almost certainly a bad idea,” she said.
“Apart from the eye-watering expense, this is because the existence of the dispute will make your house unsaleable.
“Also, whether you win or you lose, you still have to live next door to them afterwards. Clients very often say to me that “Things can’t get any worse!” but believe me, they can.”
She added that, “The judge may not treat your case with the seriousness which you feel it deserves.”
Ursula’s advice is to use the Citizen Advice Bureau or a solicitor who can give practical support, rather than write an angry letter.
“Many areas run community neighbour mediation schemes, where for free or for a modest fee you and your neighbour will be visited by a neighbourhood mediator who has specific training in helping parties reach their own acceptable solution,” she said.
Other advice includes:
- The Land Registry can help you and your neighbour work out exactly where your boundary ought to be: see https://www.gov.uk/your-property-boundaries.
- Your local authority may be able to help with noise, problems to do with hygiene or smells, or anti-social behaviour.
- Possibly a different neighbour or respected person locally might be willing to act as a neutral third party.
“Hopefully a solution can be found rather than having to go to court,” she said.
For further information, visit www.emgsolicitors.com