What are your legal rights with nuisance neighbours?

Having nuisance neighbours can be tricky to handle without creating tension. However, more often than not, a friendly chat goes a long way and can usually fix the issue. But when that fails, what are your options?

Related topics:  At Home,  Property,  Law,  neighbours,  legal
Property | Reporter
21st March 2023
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If you’ve ever experienced neighbours that are too noisy or are engaging in anti-social behaviour then you know how frustrating it can be. While in some cases you might be able to speak to them politely to resolve the issue, in others they may become aggressive or rude when you confront them, which can sometimes make matters worse.

It's not all bad news though, if you cannot resolve matters in a civilised manner, there are actually a number of rights you have under UK law that can make dealing with nuisance neighbours a little bit easier.

From making a noise complaint to using a mediator, the experts at BPP University Law School have explained what you should do when your neighbour is causing you problems.

Loud noise and being disruptive

There’s nothing worse than when you’re trying to get an early night and your neighbour is playing loud music and partying until the early hours of the morning.

However, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Under UK law, noise levels must be kept to a minimum during the hours of 11 pm and 7 am, so if your neighbour is continually breaking these rules, you are actually entitled to make a formal complaint.

To do this you can contact your local council, who is required to investigate complaints made about noise that count as a ‘statutory nuisance’ under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Fly-tipping

Are your neighbours dumping their rubbish or waste on your land? While under Section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, fly-tipping is classed as a criminal offence, that could lead to a hefty fine. Sadly when rubbish is dumped on private land it will more often than not become your responsibility to deal with.

Understandably you have the right to be angry when this happens, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about it.

Contact the Environmental Agency and explain the situation to see if they can help to dispose of the waste. Make sure once it has been collected to keep the receipts of anything you have had to pay for in relation to the dumped waste, so you can get your money back if your neighbour is successfully prosecuted. It may also help to keep note of what happened, and the time period, and take photos of the waste so you have evidence.

Using your garden or land

While some neighbours may innocently plant trees or build fences that technically creep into your property border, it is not uncommon that some will deliberately go beyond their agreed land boundaries.

If you have already tried speaking to your neighbour in order to achieve a resolution and failed, it's worth getting in touch with a property disputes solicitor.

A solicitor will be able to review the deeds to your property, previous sale agreements and any evidence that may suggest your neighbour has the claim of the land you are in dispute over.

When the evidence points towards the land being your own, your solicitor may suggest enlisting the help of a mediator or surveyor who can help you and your neighbour come to an agreement.

Burning materials or having backyard bonfires

To get rid of waste, some neighbours may have fires in their back gardens. However, if the smoke is causing you a nuisance that is stopping you from enjoying time outside, there are a number of things you can do if politely asking them to extinguish it does not work.

First, try contacting your local authority, who can get in touch with them and serve them an abatement notice. If they ignore this they can be fined up to £5000.

If they continue to cause problems through back garden bonfires, you can take further legal action.

Blocking driveways

Not everyone will have access to a driveway for their cars, so if your neighbours are causing an obstruction to your drive or house, it can be frustrating.

The Highway Code does have various rules and regulations in place that can land drivers with a fine for where they park, but when it comes to private land like driveways, knowing your rights and what you can do to resolve the issue can be a little tricky.

In some cases, reporting anti-social behaviour to your council may be enough to stop your neighbours from causing a nuisance with their parking. However, when this doesn’t work you may be able to pursue a civil case in court as parking on private land without consent can count as trespassing.

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