It is not possible to provide a standard set of guidelines for dealing with every neighbour problem. This is because the problems are so varied and the solution to any particular dispute will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.
Common Neighbour Problems
Establishing Boundaries and Ownership
If a dispute arises between neighbours about the boundary between their property it will be necessary to establish exactly where the boundary lies. You may need to check the title deeds of the properties to establish the position of boundaries.
If you think that the boundaries are not defined in the title deeds then you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau
If you have concerns about how CCTV is being used by a neighbour or your landlord, there is further information on the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) website at www.ico.org.uk.
Noisy children in themselves are not a ‘nuisance’. If you are disturbed by a neighbour’s children, for example, if you are a shift worker who wants to sleep during the day, the only real solution is a conciliatory approach to the neighbour. A local mediation scheme may be able to help neighbours to come to an agreement that suits both parties.
To establish who is responsible for keeping a shared garden in good order, you should check the title deeds of the property. If you believe a neighbour’s garden is a health hazard, you should contact Ashfield District Council. If a neighbour is unable to look after her/his garden due to disability or old age, you should contact Ashfield District Council. If your property is damaged as a result of a neighbour’s lack of care, or failure to maintain her/his garden (for example, tree roots coming up in your drive) the neighbour could be liable for damages.
If a neighbour’s hedge is tall and blocks out light you can ask Ashfield District Council for help if you can't resolve the problem with your neighbour. You will have to try to solve the problem before you apply as the local authority will expect you to try to do that.
If there are overhanging branches in your garden you can trim them back to the boundary wall or fence but you should not reduce the height of them without the permission of the owner.
As a first step, you should talk to the neighbour making the noise and ask her/him to reduce it. If the noise is not reduced and the neighbour is a tenant, it may be worth contacting the neighbour’s landlord. If the problem persists it is very helpful for you to keep a record/diary of the frequency and type of disturbance, which can be used as evidence in any future action.
If an informal approach to the neighbour is unsuccessful, the police may be willing to get involved. They may be able to ensure that noise is reduced simply by visiting the neighbour. The police also have specific powers to deal with excessive noise. They may be able to issue fines to people who have failed to stop the noise after being asked to do so or they may confiscate sound producing equipment.
Ashfield District Council have a range of powers to deal with noise problems. The Antisocial Behaviour Act 20144 has introduced a number of remedies for dealing with noise. We dohave a discretion to adopt these provisions but these include having the power to issue warning notices where noise exceeds permitted levels. If the person responsible for the noise does not reduce it after being given a warning notice, s/he may be committing a criminal offence. Either the Council officer or a Police Constable may issue the person with a fixed penalty notice. Steps may also be taken to seize and remove noise making equipment.
Noise in the street
Loudspeakers (except those used by the police, fire and ambulance services) must not be used in the street at night. Ice cream and grocery vans are allowed to use chimes or bells to advertise their services between noon and 7pm. You should make any complaints about noise from loudspeakers or chimes to Ashfield District Council
Neighbour Spreading Rumours
If you believe that a neighbour is spreading rumours about you, you should consider tolerating the rumours until they become less frequent or disappear altogether. You could also approach the neighbour directly and ask for an explanation and perhaps seek an apology. A mediator may also be able to help both sides to reach an agreement.
The owner of a tree has a legal obligation to take due care that it does not damage a neighbour’s property, including a garden as well as a driveway with for example, overgrown roots or branches. You should ask your neighbour if s/he is prepared to cut the tree back. You are entitled to cut back roots and branches that overhang onto your property, but it may be useful to discuss the problem before you do any trimming back. When you have a problem of daylight being taken away from your property by a neighbour’s tree it may be more difficult to solve because you do not have the right to take any height off your neighbour’s tree. If you have lost daylight to your property, or views you previously enjoyed you should try to negotiate with your neighbour to reduce the height of the tree. If the neighbour refuses you could take legal action but discuss this with a solicitor because it could be very expensive. If your tree is causing a danger or obstacle in a public road or pathway, you can be forced to cut it back.