Neighbour Disputes

A very common dispute that we deal with at Hewetts Solicitors are those that occur between neighbours. Because there is no formal mechanism to resolve disputes between householders, things often get out of hand, leading to costly and often unsuccessful litigation.

The best thing that you can do is to speak to us before you enter into any discussion so that you can have the full legal picture before you approach any neighbour. Failing that, if you are already in “dispute” mode, get in touch so we can help you before you have to go to court to resolve any issues.

What are the most common neighbour disputes Hewetts deal with?

Garden boundaries such as trees and hedges

We all love our gardens. They are a place where we can relax and entertain. However, when your neighbour’s trees overhang yours, or block out the light, it can often lead to a dispute. 

Normally, one would ask the neighbour to cut back the tree or trim the hedges and sometimes this works. But if it doesn’t you then have a potential problem. 

  • Do you cut back the tree or hedge anyway? 
  • What if it is protected by a Tree Preservation Order? 
  • Do you tell your neighbour you are going to cut back the foliage? 
  • Does your neighbour have to dispose of the cuttings?

Boundaries, fences and driveway disputes

Another common dispute between neighbours arises when there is disputed land, or a dispute over boundary line location.

Unfortunately, all properties in England and Wales are subject to the ‘general boundaries principle’ meaning that your boundaries are not millimetre-perfect, and can often be difficult to pinpoint.

Arguing for a particular boundary is a specialist discipline, and involves a review of title documents, conveyances and deeds, as well as understanding the physical features on the grounds, and an appreciation of how they have moved over time.

There are many potential ways to attempt to resolve boundary disputes, nearly all of them worth attempting before commencing litigation.

Fences, Walls and Gates and neighbour disputes

Whilst most properties have a fence or wall between properties, it’s not necessary for these to be in place unless specifically mentioned in the deeds/lease/title documents. It will require a review of the title documentation to ascertain exactly what physical features need to go where, and who is responsible for maintenance.

Dispute over a Shared Driveway

Very often we have clients who share a driveway with their neighbours. The way such driveways operate in reality will often be determined by the wording of the title documents. Disputes can arise over who owns what, and the extent of the rights each party has.

What’s the best way to resolve a dispute with my neighbour?

Talking with your neighbour can sometimes clear the air. Other times it requires more formal correspondence between solicitors to establish an agreement or settlement. Other options such as mediators and the joint instruction of surveyors are available, but the pros and cons need to be weighed for each choice.

There are then multiple ways in which to record the agreement you have reached, and we can advise you on these.

Going to court for neighbour disputes - is it worth it?

Taking a neighbour to court is the most costly of all options. However there are circumstances in which it may be appropriate, and Hewetts have acted in many such court cases.


For further information please book an appointment with Oliver Kew, by calling 01189 575337

Published on 24/02/2021

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