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Last week, after 37 years, the Aussie soap ‘Neighbours’ finally got its happy ending.  The iconic street has seen its fair share of drama and disputes over the years, but as we say a fond farewell to the good people of Ramsay Street, here in the UK we’re likely to be seeing less ’good neighbours‘ over the summer months.

As temperatures rise, and the kids break up from school, we typically receive a larger number of calls to our Legal Assistance Helpline (LAH) relating to neighbourhood disputes. From property boundary disputes and noise complaints to nuisance behaviours and errant shrubbery, tensions can rise as quickly as the mercury and the garden fence can suddenly become the front line for a neighbourhood battle zone.

A summer of discontent

Why does summer become such a fraught time, even for some of the most relaxed of neighbourhoods?  We believe proximity plays a large role here.

The combination of the school holidays, working from home, and warmer weather means that more people are home in the summer, spending prolonged periods outside in the garden, or with their windows open.  This extended time at home gives people more time to notice those nuisance behaviours, or troublesome tenants – the bonfires lit too close to houses, the bass music played on full volume throughout the day, or the landscaping that blocks out the sunlight.

Another factor is time. The combination of warmer weather and more time to spare, makes the summer months the perfect time to work on those home renovations or improvements; great for a homeowners property value, potentially terrible for their neighbours as they can often spark party wall disputes that require the support of mediation experts.

Love thy neighbour

In anticipation of the increase in disputes over the coming months, we’ve prepared a few top tips to help you to avoid these uncomfortable situations:

  • Be considerate as to noise, especially when living in a flat. You might enjoy the surround sound on your TV, but your neighbours probably won’t
  • Consider consulting with a Party Wall surveyor to check that a notice doesn’t need to be served on your neighbour if you are undertaking structural works or building an extension on your property
  • Before extending your property or erecting a feature in the garden, seek advice as to whether there are any covenants in your deeds that might allow your neighbour to protest about your works
  • Before replacing fencing, make sure your neighbour agrees that it’s your right to do so and ensure that they are satisfied with the positioning of the new fence. Be sure the posts are in the same line as they were previously, if it’s impossible to use the existing postholes.
  • Don’t paint your side of someone else’s fence without permission
  • Make sure any hedges or shrubbery on the boundary are well maintained so that they do not encroach onto your neighbour’s property
  • Always contact a neighbour before cutting back any overhanging branches or encroaching roots
  • Avoid undertaking work that could affect your neighbour whilst they are on holiday

Property disputes can be extremely costly. It’s not unusual for legal costs to exceed £100,000; not the kind of holiday spend anyone wants to be subject to, it’s therefore important not to let disputes escalate. If there is a risk of a dispute, it’s vital to seek early legal advice.

Our Family Legal Expenses Insurance provides our customers with expert legal advice and covers up to £100,000 for legal costs for a wide range of issues such as consumer disputes, employment disputes, personal injury and property matters including:

  • Breach of covenant
  • Trespass
  • Noise and other nuisances
  • Boundary disputes

Rebecca Conway, Chief Legal Officer, Arc Legal Group

To find out more about Family Legal Protection, please contact your Partnerships Manager or email

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