Bad neighbours? How to handle domestic disputes

bad neighbours

Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours.

Yes, it’s the lilting theme tune to that strangely addictive soap opera from Down Under . . . but the message is spot on.

Having good relationships with the people who live around you is key to being truly happy in your home.

For a minority of people, however, neighbours are a source of stress.

Over time, a bad relationship with a neighbour can change how you feel about living in your home and even make you want to leave.

But while you consider some of the wonderful moves you could make, thanks to opportunities on s1homes, let’s find out how to approach a dispute with a bad neighbour to make life easier right now.

It sounds simple, but first off try talking.

Sometimes neighbours may not even realise their actions are impacting on your life.

Practising Riverdance moves at three in the morning or having an overgrown hedge that puts your summer barbecues in permanent darkness might seem an obvious red card to you.

But it may not have dawned on your neighbours, so give them the benefit of the doubt and raise the issue informally – stating the facts not sharing your emotions.

If this doesn’t resolve the issue, take it to the next level.

If they’re a tenant, you can contact their landlord. Otherwise, use the Scottish Mediation Service to put you in touch with an impartial, trained referee.

There may be a fee, but it will still be cheaper than getting lawyers involved.

If mediation fails and the issue involves causing a nuisance or is damaging to health, you can ask the council to get involved. This includes things such as rubbish build-up, fumes, smells, artificial light or noise.

The council must investigate all complaints of what is known as “statutory nuisance”. In the case of noise, for example, they can force the person to refrain from playing Justin Bieber’s greatest hits at volume 11. If they don’t comply, the unruly Belieber can be fined up to £5,000.

As a homeowner, getting a solicitor’s letter can be a good way to confirm your legal standing in the dispute. It can also show your neighbour you mean business.

The very last resort is to take legal action against a neighbour and, as they say in Law & Order, have your day in court.

There may be court fees and a solicitor to pay but free legal advice is available from Citizens Advice.

Ultimately, if none of this works, you can choose to move to a happier home with s1homes.

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