Neighbour disputes

If your neighbour is noisy or is making you feel uncomfortable, try to discuss it with them if you can. You can also report them to your local council if approaching them is unsuccessful. Read on for advice on resolving neighbour disputes.

Follow these steps if you have a dispute with your neighbour.

Talk to your neighbour

Before making a formal complaint or getting others involved, try to discuss the problem with your neighbour. If you’re worried about approaching them, write a letter, explaining the problem clearly and sticking to the facts. If the problem affects other neighbours, involve them as well.

Keep records

Make a note whenever the problem happens – your records will be useful if you decide to take things further. Include what happened, the length of time it took place for and how it affected you. Keep any messages your neighbour sends you and collect evidence if it’s safe to do so. For example, take a photo of rubbish that has been dumped in your garden.

Contact your neighbour’s landlord

If your neighbour is a tenant, you can complain to their landlord. This could be a housing association, the council or a private landlord.

Use a mediation service

If you can’t resolve the dispute by speaking to your neighbour, get help from a mediation service. Mediation is when an impartial person – trained in dealing with difficult discussions between 2 opposing sides acts like a referee in a dispute. There can be a fee for mediation, but this will still be cheaper than hiring a solicitors and taking legal action. Find a mediation service in your area.

Complain about noise to your council

You can ask your local council for help if the neighbour dispute involves an activity that is damaging to health or a nuisance. You should always try and solve the problem by talking to your neighbour or through mediation before contacting the council. 

High hedges, trees and boundaries

You must try to settle a dispute about a high hedge informally before a council can intervene. Complain to your council if the hedge or tree is mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen, over 2 meters tall and affecting your enjoyment of your own home or garden because of its size. You might have to pay the council a fee to consider your complaint.

You can trim branches or roots that cross into your property from a neighbour’s property or a public road. You can only trim up to the property boundary. If you do more than this, your neighbour could take you to court for damaging their property. If you live in a conservation area, or the trees in the hedge are protected by a tree preservation order, you might need the council’s permission to trim them.

Boundaries and shared ('party') walls

Boundary disputes can be difficult to solve so we advise you seek legal advice. You must give notice to your neighbour if you are going to do work on a shared or party wall. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has free advice on boundary disputes and party walls.

When to involve the police

You should call Northumbria Police if your neighbour:

Is violent, threatening or abusive

Is harassing you sexually, or because of your sexuality, religion, ethnic background or disability. This could be classified as a hate crime.

Is breaking the law in any other way – or if you suspect they are.

If a crime is happening right now and life is at risk, call 999. Otherwise report non-emergency any incidents to us online or by calling 101.

Take action through the courts

If all else fails, you can take legal action against a neighbour. Taking someone to court can be expensive so it should be your last resort if nothing else works. There may be court fees and you may have to pay a solicitor. You can get free legal advice from Citizens Advice


Is my neighbour entitled to paint my fence?

If the fence is your property and on your land, then the neighbour is not permitted to paint it without your permission. If it is a shared boundary fence you may need to speak with a solicitor. If the fence is yours, it is your responsibility to maintain its upkeep and ensure it is safe. You can contact Citizens Advice for more information.

Can my neighbour park outside my home?

If there are no parking restrictions in place by the council, and your neighbour’s vehicle is taxed with a valid MOT, they can park outside your home. The public road outside the house does not belong to the house, so any road user may park there.

If my neighbour is targeting me due to my religious beliefs, can the police help?

Targeting anyone because of a personal characteristic, whether it’s verbal or physical is a hate crime and you should report this to Northumbria Police. Hate crime is the term used to describe an incident or crime against someone based on a part of their identity.

Can the police deal with noise?

If you’re having ongoing issues with noise we suggest you liaise with your local authority and complete a noise diary log to monitor the frequency of disturbances.. Your local authority may even issue noise recording equipment to record the noise disturbance as evidence against the perpetrator. Ongoing noise nuisance can result in breach of tenancy and eviction. Please consider that if the noise sounds like a domestic disturbance you should contact us on 999. You can do so anonymously if needed.

My neighbour has threatened me with violence, what should I do?

You should reduce the risk by removing yourself from the situation and returning to your home. Do not retaliate. Keep yourself safe by locking your windows and doors and contact Northumbria Police on 101. If your neighbour is still outside, in an agitated state and you fear for your welfare, please ring 999.

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