Our neighbours can sometimes annoy us for many different reasons. If we don’t tell our neighbours what has annoyed us, what was a small matter can escalate into a dispute. At this stage everything your neighbour does can irritate you and everything you do can irritate your neighbour.
If you have a dispute with your neighbour:
- Try to solve the problem informally by talking to them.
- If your neighbour is a tenant, you could contact their landlord.
- You could use a mediation service if raising the issue informally doesn’t work.
- If the dispute involves a statutory nuisance (something like loud music or barking dogs), you can make a complaint to your local council.
- Contact the police if your neighbour is breaking the law by being violent or harassing you.
- As a last resort you can take legal action through the courts.
Solving the problem informally
Before making a formal complaint or getting others involved, try to discuss the problem with your neighbour.
If you’re worried about approaching them, write a letter, explaining the problem clearly and sticking to the facts.
If the problem affects other neighbours, involve them as well. It can be easier to settle a dispute if the complaint comes from a number of people.
A tenants’ association might help if you’re a member of one.
Get practical advice from Citizens Advice to deal with common neighbour disputes, like high hedges.
Contact your neighbour's landlord
If your neighbour is a tenant, you can complain to their landlord. This could be a housing association or a private landlord.
Use a mediation service
If you can’t resolve the dispute by speaking to your neighbour, get help from a mediation service. This is when a neutral person trained in dealing with difficult discussions acts like a referee in a dispute.
There can be a fee for mediation, but this will still be cheaper than hiring a solicitor and taking legal action.
Complaining to the council
You can ask your local council for help if the neighbour dispute involves an activity that is damaging to health or a nuisance. This is known as a ‘statutory nuisance’.
- noise (including loud music and barking dogs)
- artificial light (except street lamps)
- dust, steam, smell or insects from business premises
- smoke, fumes or gases
- a build-up of rubbish that could harm health.
We have a duty to investigate any statutory nuisance but you should always try and solve the problem by talking to your neighbour before contacting us.
Call the police
You should call the police if your neighbour is:
- violent, threatening or abusive;
- harassing you sexually, or because of your sexuality, religion or ethnic background;
- breaching the peace (being disorderly in the street or making a lot of noise); or
- breaking the law in any other way - or if you suspect this.
Take action through the courts
If all else fails, you can take legal action against a neighbour.
Taking someone to court can be expensive so it should be your last resort if nothing else works. There may be court fees and you may have to pay a solicitor.
You can get free legal advice from a law centre, advice centre or Citizens Advice.
You can also find a lawyer who deals with neighbour disputes through the Law Society.