Written by Siân Carrel, Partner at Spire Solicitors LLP.
With summer here, many homeowners will be busy maintaining their gardens and enjoying some outdoor living. However, unless you live in rural isolation, hot summers can often lead to an increase in neighbour complaints. To maintain a summer of tranquillity, it is important to consider the following:
Noise- Noise is normally thought of as unwanted sound. It could be too loud or just happen at the wrong time or without warning. This can include playing loud music, DIY projects, alarm systems and incessant dog barking. If you are concerned about noise coming from a neighbour’s home, it is important to try and approach them as soon as possible before the problem gets out of control. Many problems can be dealt with in a friendly way, without the need for further action.
However, if talking doesn’t work, you will need to make a complaint to your local authority. Under the provisions of the Noise Act 1996 and other associated legislation, your local authority has a mandatory obligation to deal with any noise which is deemed to be nuisance.
Barbeques- If your neighbour’s barbeque creates issues with smoke drifting, try and speak with them to see if they can position their barbeque away from the boundary or move it to the end of their garden. If they disregard your complaints, have a look at your title deeds to see whether there are any restrictions on barbecuing. If you are still unable to resolve the problem amicably, you may need to raise the issue with your local environmental health officer at the council. They will be able to investigate complaints about smoke from residential premises that cause a statutory nuisance.
Fences- If you live in a built up area, it is highly likely that the boundaries of your garden are shared with one of more of your neighbours. Unless they are dealt with carefully small problems relating to hedges, fences and walls can cause a breakdown in relations between neighbours. Knowing your rights and responsibilities can help to prevent a problem from turning into a disruptive and expensive legal issue. If you are looking to paint or repair a fence, it is best to speak with your neighbour first to check they are happy with any alterations. If you are in any doubt, check the deeds of your house first for any clarification of boundary lines as this may help you with any neighbour negotiations.
Hedges, plants and boundary lines- Generally a hedge that separates two gardens will grow along the boundary of both properties and so it is the responsibility of both neighbours to keep it trimmed. However, if a hedge belongs to one neighbour and it is growing in to next door’s garden, the next door neighbour is entitled to invite them round and give it a trim. The neighbour is also entitled to trim the hedge themselves but must return any trimmings to the owner, unless otherwise agreed. This is also the same for overhanging trees or branches. If a neighbour refuses to allow access to their garden, it is possible to apply for access under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 and apply for a court order which will give access for the given work.
If you would like to discuss any points in this article further, please contact Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077 for all your legal needs.