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Building work tops chart of neighbour disputes

 

Article date:  30/05/2013

A leading dispute resolution lawyer has compiled a Top 5 of arguments between neighbours following new research on what drives homeowners up the wall.

Nyree Applegarth, Dispute Resolution partner at Midlands law firm Higgs & Sons, says not surprisingly it is rows over building work and party walls that top the list of issues she is asked to advise on.

At number two, tempers are likely to flair over boundary issues and high hedges, while hot on their heels are disputes over noise nuisance, anti-social behaviour and pets.

The Top 5 compiled by Higgs & Sons follows research commissioned by B&Q that reveals there are certain activities sure to drive your neighbours mad if you do them before 9.31am on a Sunday. These include mowing the lawn, strimming the garden or letting children play out.

The survey revealed that 53 per cent of people are driven to the point of insanity if their neighbours start up the lawnmower earlier than 9:39am on a Sunday. And one in 25 people reckon peace and quiet should reign until at least 12 noon.

Nyree said: "Certainly the issues that we have most regularly been asked to represent on relate to boundary disputes and building work, particularly work involving a party wall.

"It is always advisable to clarify what land belongs to you and where a boundary line is before you start on a building project. Addressing the matter early can avoid much greater cost, inconvenience and stress."

That point was highlighted recently when Higgs represented a professional couple from Sutton Coldfield.

The couple's saga began when a neighbour, an elderly woman, 'appeared' in their garden and started trimming the hedge. The couple decided to put up a fence on their side of the hedge, clearly on their own land, but unfortunately the neighbour took a dislike to the fence - and chopped it down with a chainsaw. The couple subsequently gave notice, took down the old hedge and reinstated the fence.

Nothing happed for a year until out of the blue, the couple were issued proceedings for trespass. The case went to trial last year and two site visits proved the neighbour had issued proceedings for what was found by surveyors to be a trespass of just 0.4 cm in respect of one fence post only.  The Judge was not impressed.

During this time, the neighbour had run up £70,000 of legal fees, while the couple had incurred around £36,000 in fees.  On the advice of her solicitor and barrister, the neighbour agreed to settle the proceedings prior to Judgment, by effectively withdrawing all of her claims and paying the couple's costs, which are currently being assessed.

The couple said: "This has been a real nightmare for us, and a completely unnecessary and stressful problem for us to deal with. If only our neighbour had spoken to us in the first instance so we could have tried to resolve this amicably, but our thanks must go to Higgs, who have been absolutely fantastic and supported us through this, the nightmare is nearly over."

Higgs has a number of specialists in the field of dispute resolution, dedicated to providing clients with practical advice and solutions to problems. Their aim remains to bring about the resolution of disputes in a proportionate and cost effective way. To find our more call Nyree 0845 111 5050 or email nyree.applegarth@higgsandsons.co.uk.

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