28 July 2016
Millions of Brits Living Next Door to a Nuisance Neighbour
Millions of homeowners say their life is being blighted by a nuisance neighbour, new research has revealed.
Two thirds of Brits say they are living or have lived next door to a nuisance neighbour.
Boisterous children (13 per cent), noisy pets (15 per cent), loud music (21 per cent) and rows over parking (15 per cent) were just some of the most common causes of rows, with four in ten admitting they had bickered with a neighbour in the last year.
Late night parties and loud music (34 per cent) were a frequent flash-point for conflict as were boundary disputes with one in 10 even admitting they have physically fought with their neighbour.
Messy, overgrown gardens were also a major bug-bear for 17 per cent, who said they had complained to their neighbours about unsightly front yards.
Nearly 1 in 5 had resorted to calling the police and 20 per cent contacted the council because of an issue with a neighbour with many citing criminal damage, vermin, trespassing or noise issues as the reasons why they felt they had to escalate the issue to the authorities.
Shockingly more than a third said they were considering moving because of the impact of the dispute and stress it had caused their family.
The research by property law experts Slater and Gordon, which polled 2,001 residents, found that seemingly minor incidents tended to be at the root of long-running and bitter feuds among neighbours, with disputes over parking spaces and unwanted extensions being one of the most common reasons for rows.
Almost one in five have retaliated to their neighbour’s actions by blocking their car in because of their inconsiderate parking while 12 per cent have contacted the council to clarify their neighbours boundaries and planning restrictions.
Noise regularly caused anxiety, with early morning lawn mowing, loud TV and phone calls, revving motorbikes or loud music from homes and cars mentioned as the source of the dispute for more than a third.
Samantha Blackburn, head of residential property at Slater and Gordon, said: “We are seeing a rise in disputes between neighbours year on year at the moment.
“It’s difficult to pinpoint one reason. As property prices increase the home is becoming by far our biggest asset so we’re understandably protective of it. It's also likely that many people struggle to afford to buy somewhere that's an appropriate size because of the increase in house prices. As a result you have more people living in inappropriate housing and more people renting who are potentially less committed to a neighbourhood and more transient.
"Fewer people seem to be getting to know their neighbours and building a relationship with them which means there aren’t so many opportunities to nip disputes in the bud with a friendly chat.
“The conveyancing process can throw up important warning signs of trouble to come. We advise clients to carry out thorough research – speak to their potential neighbours, research the area and look at crime statistics. Spotting potential problems before it’s too late is key.”
Bad blood between neighbours meant that 30 per cent felt that their happiness had been significantly reduced, while nearly four in 10 cited serious stress as a result of ongoing feuds.
Tensions between neighbours run high, with half of people avoiding their neighbour sometimes or all of the time.
A further 15 per cent have considered putting up a fence or increasing the height of a boundary already in place as a barrier between them and their neighbour and one in 10 have installed CCTV cameras because they feel threatened and want to catch their neighbours breaking the law.
Children and pets were a reoccurring theme in the results of the study with one in five saying they had told off their neighbour’s children for bad behaviour like playing in the street, kicking a football against their property or being too noisy.
Nearly one in five said they don’t know their neighbours, with 20 per cent not knowing their name and half unaware of what they do for a living.
Disruptive and long-running building work was also cited as a reason for falling out with neighbours by six per cent, with those in London and Manchester most likely to be impacted by their neighbours planning extensions or conservatories.
Samantha Blackburn, head of residential property at Slater and Gordon, said: “Our clients are often surprised by what constitutes a nuisance – it is not just about loud, late night parties.
“You need to be incredibly careful when considering any building work that might affect your neighbours, making sure you have discussed decisions that may affect their property and its surrounding areas with them.
“What may seem like an inoffensive action, like playing music, cutting back unwanted branches, may actually be illegal and many people will not realise this.
“Whatever the problem, it’s important to look for a solution to the dispute sooner rather than later. Once rows become entrenched or allowed to fester it can be more difficult to sort out. We find it is usually far more straightforward to resolve a problem when clients come to us in the early stages.”
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