How legal cover can help fight ‘neighbours from hell’

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Neighbours from hell are many homeowners’ worst fear. Some problems can be cleared up with a polite chat, but for many the neighbours disputes can be so awful that the only way out is to leave the street or area.neighbour disputes

And it’s a very common issue. In recent years, Abbey Mortgages, now owned by Spanish bank Santander, said that nearly 100,000 people move homes every year due to problems with neighbours. Additionally, a Halifax survey found that terrible neighbours could knock £30,000 off the value of a home.

Get help fighting terrible neighbours

But moving home might not be an option. And why should you anyway if you don’t feel you are in the wrong? Additionally, if the dispute is over land or shared access, it would need sorting out before you even think about selling your home.

In such instances, there might be court proceedings needed, which is where legal insurance comes in.

Legal insurance can be bought as part of a general home insurance deal, or in fact as a stand-alone insurance policy, and covers you for many of the costs associated with receiving legal advice and instigating and going through with court proceedings.

Legal cover shouldn’t cost much

Buying legal cover as an ‘add-on’ to a policy is usually the most cost-effective option, and might only add a few extra pounds to your premiums each month.

Most common disputes with neighbours

Most disputes with neighbours arise from noise pollution, boundary disputes and lack of privacy.

Here are some of the most common problems, which if you come up against, and end up needing legal help and possibly representation in court, legal cover could assist you with.

Noise pollution

Most of us don’t mind the occasional knees up next door, but if it’s happening regularly, at all times of the day and night, and is disturbing your sleep and general ability to enjoy your home, there can be little worse.

Unfortunately, the people who generally cause such problems aren’t likely to see it your way; on the whole, their view of the world probably doesn’t involve giving thought to how their behaviour might affect others.

Firstly, you should simply ask them to keep the noise down, perhaps agreeing if possible to a time limit after which noise should be kept to a minimum.

If that fails, make a note of the time and date of incidents, and make recordings if possible. If it’s a rented flat, try and speak to the landlord and get them to warn the tenants.

Notify your local council and police, as they have certain powers to help in dealing with noise pollution issues.

Boundary disputes

Disputes are very common over where a property’s land starts and finishes, shared access rights and who is responsible for fencing, walls and other boundary markers.

The first thing to do is see if the property title deeds can shed any light on the matter. If it’s not clear, you’ll need to find a solicitor or chartered surveyor that’s an expert in such issues.

Don’t think it’s great if you’re not responsible; if it’s under the neighbour’s jurisdiction, they’re under no obligation to pay for repairs, unless damage is caused to your property.

All they have to do is ensure the boundary is ‘safe’, which is open to interpretation.

Shared facilities

Problems over who is responsible for communal or shared areas often arise, especially between those living in flats.

The general upkeep of communal areas, such as halls and gardens, electrical installations such as lights, as well as drains, roofs and a building’s structure, are all common causes of arguments.

In some cases, your local authority’s environmental health officer might be able to provide guidance, but there’s a chance it could end up in court.

 Gardens and trees

A badly kept garden can become a health hazard. This might be from a build-up of rubbish which attracts vermin, or overhanging loose branches from overgrown, untrimmed trees.

In fact, trees, hedges and bushes are one of the number one causes of neighbour disputes. If a neighbour’s tree overhangs your property, or its roots are causing structural problems, or branches are blocking light from your home, you can seek redress.

However, you have no right to cut a problem-tree down. The same goes for hedges and bushes.

Badly behaved children

Noisy kids are a fact of life, and if it’s simply screaming and shouting, whether in the street or internally from a home, there’s not much you can do about it.

However, if a neighbour’s children are trespassing in your garden, or verbally abusing you, or damaging your property, then the police can be involved. Your council might also provide assistance in terms of initially dealing with the family.

Workshops and places of business

Often disputes occur due to a neighbour starting and running a business from their home. This could be carpentry from a shed, or a music studio from a rear extension.

Whatever the reason the business is causing you disturbance, you can call upon the help of the council and police to deal with it. If the neighbour persists, it will probably end up needing a court order to stop them.

Adding Legal Assistance to your Home Insurance

The cost of legal proceedings can be prohibitively expensive, particularly since the introduction of much stricter eligibility rules for Legal Aid. Adding Legal assistance to your policy will give you peace of mind knowing trained advisers and solicitors are never more than a phone call away, if a neighbour dispute should occur.

Policy Expert

As an online home insurance broker, Policy Expert help our customers to products and find a policy that’s right for them. Customer care is at the heart of everything we do and we have a dedicated customer service team on hand by phone, email, twitter and instant chat. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0203 014 9300 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.