Posted by Caroline Preist, Partner
Are nuisance neighbours driving you crazy?
According to the results of the latest “Which?” survey revealed today, 27% of UK adults have suffered some form of nuisance caused by their neighbours in the last year. The most common problem is noise caused by loud voices, music, pets or building work.
Which? offered some tips on how to tackle problem neighbours which our experts agree is sensible advice:
- Keep a written diary of incidents
- Speak to your neighbour about the problems (calmly!)
- Complain to your local authority as the problems may be a ‘statutory nuisance’
- Consider involving your landlord if you are a tenant/leaseholder.
You can see the full article here. But what if these options do not work?
What are my rights?
It is likely you have legal rights to put a stop to the nuisance. If the neighbour refuses to cooperate, you can enforce those rights in the civil courts. The court has the power to order an injunction requiring your neighbour to stop the nuisance activities. If the neighbour breaches the injunction they can be fined or sent to prison. The court can also order your neighbour pay you compensation.
What kind of nuisance can I stop?
Not all nuisance can be stopped in the courts, because the law has a specific definition of what amounts to a ‘legal nuisance’. In essence, a person causes a legal nuisance when something in their control ‘emanates’ from their land on to another’s, which causes loss or damage to the other person or their land.
The most likely example of this is noise. In most circumstances your neighbour controls the cause of the noise, whether music, shouting, banging or building work. The noise ‘emanates’ from their land to yours because you can hear it, and you might even feel the vibrations of a music bass line. It causes you loss because it prevents you enjoying your property.
The same legal principles apply to emanations of dust and dirt from building works, water (eg from a leaking washing machine in the flat above yours), or pollution escaping on to your land. You can claim clean-up or redecorating costs as compensation.
Will it work?
The courts will not automatically grant you an injunction or award compensation. You need to prove the nuisance goes beyond ‘reasonable use’ by the neighbour of his/her land. Your neighbour’s loud parties in to the night are unlikely to be ‘reasonable use’ if you live in residential area. But if your neighbour is a music venue the outcome is less clear. The court will look at the individual circumstances of each case before deciding.
For further information on property rights and injunctions contact our dedicated Property Disputes team. We can offer advice in an initial meeting on how to deal with your problems with noisy neighbours for a fixed fee.
0800 923 2070 Email us