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Neighbourly disputes bring along with them anxiety and stress for many individuals in the UK. Whether it has to do with noise, parking, boundaries, pets, trees, or rubbish, living near others can occasionally bring about conflicts that are a migraine to solve.
Based on numbers from the Ministry of Justice, there were 6,704 applications for injunctions to prevent nuisance in England and Wales in 2020, a 37% boost from 2019. These applications are made under the Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014, which gives courts the power to issue civil orders to prevent people from participating in behaviour that triggers or is likely to trigger distress in others.
Yet, professionals warn that proceeding to court ought to be the last option for neighbours that are at loggerheads, as it can be expensive and damaging to relationships.
How, then, can conflicting next-door neighbours find a way to exist in harmony? What techniques can one use in resolving neighbourly disputes without resorting to a lawsuit? Also, what function can specialists such as mediators, solicitors, and surveyors play in promoting dialogue and compromise? These are a few of the concerns that this post will explore.
The Case for Mediation
One of the most efficient and extensively advised techniques for fixing neighbourly disagreements is arbitration. Mediation is a voluntary procedure where an impartial third party helps the parties in conflict to interact, understand each other’s point of view, and reach a mutually acceptable solution.
Per the Civil Mediation Council (CMC), the representative body for mediators in England and Wales, there are more than 1,000 approved mediators in the UK who can aid with neighbourly conflicts.
Additionally, the CMC further opines that mediation can be adopted at any phase of a disagreement, whether it is before the issue escalates or even after legal action has been taken.
Nonetheless, mediation is not a cure-all that can address all neighbourly disputes. The dispute mediation process calls for a show of good faith, readiness, and engagement by both parties, and it might not be ideal for disputes such as those involving physical violence, abuse, psychological health, or criminal activity.
The Role of Solicitors
One more choice for next-door neighbours that remain in dispute is to look for lawful guidance from a solicitor. This is a qualified legal professional who can provide details, advice and representation on different facets of neighbourly disputes such as:
- Civil liberties and duties of next-door neighbours under the law
- Evidence along with documents needed to sustain a case or defend it
- Risks and costs associated with pursuing a case in court or settling out of court
Additionally, a solicitor can help draft letters, notifications, or agreements between neighbours. But still, lawyers are not always necessary or desirable for resolving neighbourly disputes. Not to mention, they can be costly, particularly if the situation goes to court.
The Role of Surveyors
An additional choice for next-door neighbours that remain in conflict due to shared property, like a boundary or party wall, is to seek advice from a party wall surveyor. This surveyor is an expert who can gauge, map, and assess land, residential or commercial structures. These individuals can provide experienced guidance on numerous aspects of neighbour conflicts, such as:
- Location and extent of boundary easements
- Ownership and title of land and property
- Appraisement of property
- Planning permissions and building regulations
According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), there are more than 125,000 chartered surveyors in the UK who can aid with disputes of this nature. The institution also provides a directory of property surveyors offering solutions for next-door neighbour differences throughout the nation.
It is, however, worth noting that surveyors are not always ideal for solving neighbourly disputes. Moreover, they are more versed in fixing disagreements concerning property limits and not those involving interpersonal or emotional conflicts.
Neighbourly disagreements are complicated and challenging occurrences that impact lots of people in the UK. Although there is no one-size-fits-all service for solving these conflicts, there are a number of alternatives and techniques that next-door neighbours that remain in dispute can think about, such as mediation, legal advice, surveyor insight, or local authority intervention.
These options all have their very own benefits and negative aspects, but the ultimate bottom line is this: resolving such disagreements is not just a matter of law or logic; it is a process that demands a fragile equilibrium of empathy, communication, and understanding. Hence, if you are in such a situation, have an open mind and a little bit of patience when adopting these conflict resolution measures.