So you’ve just moved in and had your new neighbours round for drinks and nibbles (or maybe twister and a pot for keys, if that’s your thing!), your kids play nicely with theirs and it’s all going swimmingly.
Until it all goes horribly wrong that is. You might park your car slightly on their side of the drive, sending them into an inexplicable seething rage, or they have a dog that won’t stop barking, and they drink all night and sing. That’s when they become the neighbours from hell.
Forced to quit
A survey last year by life assurer CPP showed that a million people in Britain have moved home due to disputes with neighbours. It can ruin lives and lead to police involvement (but at the same time can be quite amusing to those not involved! As long as it doesn’t end in someone tragically losing their life that is, as has happened).
Here are eight recent examples of how things can get seriously out of hand with the neighbours, listed from the most to the least extreme case:
1. Married couple shot over dog dispute
In June 2010 David Venn, 62, and wife Susan 60, were reported to have been ambushed and shot in their car as they pulled up outside their home. Mr Venn, who lost several fingers in the shooting, amazingly still managed to overpower and disarm the gunman.
The incident was related to an on-going dispute over a Rottweiler the Venn’s had taken in from a rescue centre, which the neighbours were said to be terrified of.
2. The explosive booby trap, escaped horse and armed police
In April this year a court heard how Marc Lamont, 45, was arrested by armed police after allegedly ‘firing’ at his neighbours, Jeffrey, 41, and Brenda Morgan, due to a long-running boundary dispute.
This was dismissed in court and the jury heard the neighbours’ escaped horse had set off a booby trap Lamont had set to stop encroachment on what he saw as his land. The boyfriend of one of the Morgan’s daughters faced jail for inventing the gunshot story.
3. A ‘miner’ dispute
Nissan worker and former miner, Albert Taylor, 55, admitted assaulting his neighbour in November 2008 in an idyllic part of the countryside near Sunderland after finding his neighbours car parked in front of his. He caused actual bodily harm and in his defence Taylor’s legal team said he knew he had ‘gone too far’.
4. The teenager and the IED
In a case from 2010, a teenager was accused of using an improvised explosive device to blow up his neighbour’s car after a dispute between his aunt and uncle and their neighbours over a fence that had partially blown down.
He was said to have fashioned an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) from a piece of old pipe and some fireworks and then set it off after attaching it to the car.
5. Rows, fighting and prostitution
Grandmother Larraine Reed, 59, was evicted from her house in Oxford last summer after 150 complaints had been made against her. Trouble reportedly began after her son and ‘various’ grandchildren moved in with her. Complaints included loud music, fighting, sex acts in cars and shouting. The court heard that Reed had initially said she was the victim and that people complained because they were ‘snobby’ and she was from up north.
6. Don’t mention the war
Maths teacher Geoffrey Butler was found guilty in March this year for racially aggravated harassment of his neighbours.
He submitted his German-born neighbours to ‘four years of hell’, playing the theme to the Dambusters and songs sung by World War II chanteuse Vera Lynn at full volume over and over again, and speaking loudly on his phone about Nazis.
7. Well-heeled upstairs neighbour
Last year, a court heard how Hameed and Inam Faidi were driven to distraction by the sound of their upstairs neighbour’s high heels on her wood flooring in their mansion flats in Belgravia, London. They argued she should have to rip up the wood and replace it with carpet.
Unfortunately for them, the judge disagreed. They lost the case and were hit with the legal costs of £140,000. The flat was worth in the region of £5million in March this year and our guess is they had more money than sense.
8. Alpacas, a hedge and a flowerbed fight
Couple Corinne and Tony Branson had thought their converted 17th century barn on the banks of the river Eden would be a great place to spend retirement, but the dispute became so bad it ended up in an ugly fight in a flowerbed and an attempt to chase away the Branson’s heard of alpacas. However, the judge found in their favour, and now their neighbours, Pedro and Mavis Marrero, face a £500,000 legal bill.
Directgov has a very useful site to help you deal with disputes with neighbours. It explains some of your rights, who to complain to depending on the problem, and how to go about it.
The Citizens Advice Bureau has a similar section on its site.