How do you get on with your neighbours? Are you best pals, barely on speaking terms, or go out of your way to avoid each other? Unfortunately, when you move to a new home, your neighbours are the one aspect you have no control over. If you are unlucky, you may end up living next to a noisy neighbour, there may be anti-social behaviour or unruly children. And what about building works going on next door? It could all be far from the peaceful life you were hoping for.
The good news is that, with a bit of give and take, many neighbourly problems can be sorted in a civil manner and without involving the authorities.
If excessive noise is a problem with the people living next to you, there are ways to deal with it successfully without escalating the situation. A bit of tolerance about the occasional noise – perhaps when there’s the odd party, the football is on the TV or the kids are playing in the garden – goes a long way to maintaining good relations with your neighbour.
However, if noise is an ongoing problem or keeps happening at anti-social times, you need to have a chat. They may, in all fairness, not have realised how loud they are being or that you are bothered by it, and agree to keep it down in future.
However, if there is no recognition of the problem or willingness to find a solution, it’s a good idea to start keeping a record of incidents of excessive noise. Keep a noise diary, recording times, durations and levels of noise, so that you have robust evidence, should you need to report it to the Council at a later date.
If your neighbour has recently put up an extension, a new shed or a fence that blocks your light, you won’t be best pleased. Even if planning permission has been granted, you may still find that your patio now no longer enjoys the evening sunshine, leaving your property in the shade. According to English law, the ‘right to light’ entitles you to a certain level of light coming into your home. If you feel that this has been affected by next door’s building works, you should talk to a Chartered Surveyor. He will be able to assess the situation and advise whether your neighbour must make alterations to the new building and whether compensation may be payable.
Anti-social behaviour can really spoil your quality of life, especially if it affects your enjoyment of your home. Luckily, you don’t have to suffer in silence. If you live next door to someone who is violent, abusive or you suspect of illegal activities, you need to take action.
What you should not do is to confront the relevant neighbour directly; you don’t want to put yourself or your family in any danger. Instead, make an anonymous complaint to your local council (or the police, if you think any criminal activity is taking place), who will investigate the matter. Your neighbour won’t know that it was you who complained, so you are safe from any recriminations. It is then up to the authorities to take appropriate action.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that can be most annoying. It might be inconsiderate parking, rubbish bins blocking access, overhanging plants causing obstruction – whatever it is, it’s probably not worth making a big deal out of. After all, there’s no point falling out with someone that you will be living next door to for years to come.
Instead, try and have a friendly word over the garden fence and raise the issue gently and with plenty of neighbourly goodwill. A polite note through the door may also do the trick. Most of the time, your neighbour won’t even have been aware of the problem and is likely to be apologetic, wanting to maintain good neighbourly relations as much as you do.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property industry – working together with a selection of companies from within the sector – including Shrewsbury-based Chartered Surveyors SSJ Surveyors, who were consulted regarding the information in this piece.