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As the sunshine creeps through the clouds and the temperatures rise, Brits aim to make the most of the summer months (between showers that is…), but with the opportunity to enjoy our gardens comes the opportunity for troublesome neighbourhood disputes.

Noise, parties, and overgrown trees are some of the most common neighbour disputes, with noise being the number one concern. 64% of homeowners have had arguments with neighbours over a wide range of noise complaints that include music, loud parties and noisy children.

Arc Legal typically receives a larger number of calls to our Legal Assistance Helpline (LAH) relating to neighbourhood disputes during the summer months. 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 during the summer. The rising cost of living will also force many families to stay at home, 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.

Communication is key

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. Ensure 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.

The best way to avoid neighbour disputes is by trying to follow the ‘golden rule’ – treat others the way you would want to be treated. So, be aware of your noise level and maintain your garden to avoid any overgrowth of trees or shrubs onto your neighbour’s side.

Our Family Legal Expenses Insurance provides 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
Claims examples

Neighbour dispute: Damages received for building works

The insured’s neighbour began building an extension on their property, which was prohibited by a restrictive covenant that had been agreed between both parties some years before.

The neighbour also used the insured’s driveway as a right of access to their own property whilst the building work was ongoing.

Despite several attempts to resolve, the situation had become untenable for the insured, who made a claim under their Family Legal Expenses Insurance policy to seek damages.

The insured was happy to appoint our panel solicitor who began negotiations with the other party and agreed on an offer of £20,000 inclusive of costs, which the insured accepted.

Direct right of way to property confirmed

The insured’s neighbour continually parked their vehicles daily outside of the insured’s property, despite there being a dropped curb. The insured sent a recorded letter to their neighbour requesting that their driveway was always kept clear, however, their neighbour refused to acknowledge the letter and continued to block the insured’s driveway, despite their own driveway being empty.

The insured’s deeds stated that they have full access to their property via the path or land, however, the neighbour disputed this, and made continual complaints to the council and police for a period of two years.

The insured felt harassed, bullied, and victimised by their neighbour and submitted a claim to Arc Legal who appointed their panel solicitor who successfully settled before the hearing concluded and the insured was granted a new right/award of new title.

Rebecca Conway, Chief Legal Officer, Arc Legal Group

To find out more about Family Legal Expenses Insurance, please contact your Relationships Manager or email

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