HM Insights

Intolerable Isolation: Dealing with Neighbour Disputes during Covid-19

The people of the UK are (rightly) being told to stay home and keep away from others. The trouble is that, by staying home, many are forced into closer proximity to those whom they would ordinarily spend most of their day away from… their neighbours.

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Working from home is fine, until the person through the wall decides to have a solo rave at 11.30am. You could meditate in the garden, if the dilapidated (mutual) boundary fence was not such an eyesore. Then there is the realisation that the poorly trained dog next door does not just bark at 11.45pm when you are trying to sleep, but also at 9am, 9:20am, 9:50am, 10:02am…

Types of Neighbour Disputes

Neighbour disputes are many and varied. They can involve disputes regarding the extent of a title, use of common property, rights of access, or noise. However, they all have one thing in common: they involve people who would not ordinarily interact with each other and have very different views on the same topic being forced to reach agreement over the use of their own property. It is for that reason that the current Covid-19 restrictions on movements are likely to pour petrol onto a smouldering log.

Courts remain open for urgent cases

Notwithstanding the current situation across the country, there will still be options for those who find themselves on the wrong end of neighbour dispute. The courts have restricted business, but they remain open for cases requiring urgent, interim orders such as interdict. It follows that if the behaviour of your neighbour is intolerable and having a detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing, then litigation may still be a live option for you.

Professional Mediators Available 

Separate to court action, Alternative Dispute Resolution is still widely available, with professional mediators keen to stress that they remain able to provide their services virtually through web-based conferencing applications, and both arbitration and adjudication being more used to electronic submission that the courts have historically been.

Seek Early & Appropriate Intervention 

In any event, one side effect to the current situation is that many of us are at home with significantly more time to investigate issues than we might otherwise have had. It is important to make effective use of that time to help bring disputes to as early a conclusion as possible. Neighbour disputes can become nasty if they are allowed to fester, and early appropriate intervention can bring years of amicable co-existence in place of serious disharmony.

Get in touch

Our team is here to discuss any issues that you are currently experiencing, and to help guide you through the process of resolving your dispute. Please do not hesitate to give us a call.

Useful links 

CORONAVIRUS LEGAL ADVICE HUB

DISPUTE RESOLUTION