We are all encouraged to live our lives by the mantra of ‘love thy neighbour’ but this can become increasingly harder and harder to do if there is a dramatic breakdown in the relationship between you and the people that live in your area. If you have a problem with someone at work you can at least attempt to avoid them or console yourself with the fact that you can get away from them at 5 o’clock; but when the problem is a little closer to home (literally) the situation is soon heightened to a new level.
Neighbourly disputes are not uncommon and can be caused by a variety of things from the unsolicited trimming of hedges to the creation of excessive noise at antisocial times. This can make life very tense and make you feel uneasy in an environment that is supposes to provide a certain level of sanctuary.
There are, however, right and wrong ways of resolving disputes of this kind. Here are some practical measures you can take in order to go about things in the correct manner.
Make Polite First Contact –
If you don’t know your neighbour on a personal level then you need to make sure that you approach them for the first time in the right frame of mind. You may be wound up by their recent antics but if you attempt to speak to them with this at the fore of your mind then you are more likely to escalate the situation than resolve it.
Pick your moment carefully and try to catch them in a casual meeting so as to not seem too confrontational. Introduce yourself if you haven’t already done so and engage in general chat before politely bringing up the issue in question. This calm approach may well make them realise what they have been doing and prompt them to rectify it without the need for further action.
Keep A Written Record –
If this polite encounter doesn’t have the desired effect then it is time to start making a written record of some of the instances that you are not happy with. Keep a book with everything in so that it can be referred to should the worst come to worst and you find yourself having to give evidence in court. Make a note of times, dates and what was happening so that you have a point of reference to look back on at a later date. Include pictures if you can as these provide concrete evidence.
Seek Legal Advice –
It’s important that you seek the appropriate legal advice at the earliest possible stage. Without the help and knowledge that they can provide you will not know where you stand and taking things further without this expertise may land you in hot water yourself. Speak to the experts at length so that you understand your options and then they can inform you of the best way to proceed.
Inform Your Neighbour Of Your Intent–
By now things may have reached boiling point and so it’s best to avoid any physical contact with the person in question. Therefore you should inform them in writing that you wish to take further action over the incident and give them one last chance to rectify the issue. Tell them the action that you plan to take and that unless they are willing to negotiate a solution you will have no choice but to go ahead with your plan. Try not to be too forceful but at the same time it’s important to convey the severity of the issue.
Hire Someone To Act On Your Behalf –
The world of law is full of complex jargon and difficult to understand contracts that are filled with loopholes, and therefore it’s best to find a trusted law firm to act on your behalf. This could be the same people you went to for legal advice or another group of solicitors, but either way it’s unwise to attempt to represent yourself under these circumstances. After all you’ve been through with the dispute you will surely want to reach a favourable agreement and hiring a professional lawyer is the best way to do this.
License: Creative Commons
Chris Mayhew knows people who have been affected by neighbourly disputes in the past and has seen how local relationships can deteriorate. He would advise anyone going through a similar situation to seek help from a trusted law firm such as AMD Solicitors.