Sometimes problems with the neighbours go beyond a bit of noise or mess, and the people around you can begin to make your life miserable.
This can often start because of a previous disagreement, even over something relatively trivial which wasn’t resolved and has been allowed to fester and blow up out of all proportion. Don’t let yourself be a victim and unhappy in your own home.
Problem neighbours may even be a contributory factor for some people deciding to move. In this case, as the seller, you’d have to tick the ‘Yes’ box in the buyers’ solicitor’s property form regarding current or likely disputes. Bear in mind that action can be taken by buyers for years after the sale of your property has gone through if something comes out of the woodwork.
According to ProblemNeighbours.co.uk the most common issue that causes tension between neighbours in a block of flats seems to be noise. But you may also find nagging issues about improper or unfair use of common areas for storage, car parking, pets etc. Nipping such disputes in the bud surely has to be the appropriate option – but talking calmly can be easier said than done when emotions may be running high!
However, it’s often only by doing this that you can both start to see things from the other person’s perspective, which can help you come to a mutually acceptable agreement, even if a compromise must be made on one or both sides. It may be they just don’t realise how loud their TV is, or how they always slam doors, or that their visitors have an annoying habit of parking so they make access to your space difficult.
First get your facts right: make sure you know what the rules for the building are and, where applicable, what the lease covenants say about the behaviour in question.
Of course, calm and rational talk is just not possible with some people and you may need to prepare yourself for an aggressive and over-defensive response. The first rule of thumb in the face of a difficult person is to keep your calm.
The less reactive you are to provocation, the more you can use your better judgment to handle the challenge. When you feel upset with or challenged by someone, before you say or do something you might later regret, take a deep breath and count slowly to ten.
In many instances, by the time you reach ten, you would have regained composure and worked out a better response to the issue. If you’re still upset after counting to ten, take time out if possible, and revisit the issue at another time. Use phrases such as “I’ll get back to you…” or “Let me think about it…” to buy yourself time.
Talking didn’t work?
If trying to have a sensible, grown-up conversation doesn’t work, the next stage should be to inform the landlord or managing agents of the property. However, if they cannot or will not act, the situation may continue to brew and cause untold unpleasantness, so you may want to take positive action sooner rather than later.
Before you resort to what can be an expensive legal processes, do try a Mediation Service . Some leaseholders have found useful help from the Leasehold Advisory Service’s lawyers who offers free information, initial advice and guidance.
Once you know where you stand legally, you might be able to make a stronger argument against a recalcitrant neighbour and they may see sense. Of course, it may be tha you find tha you are the one at fault…
The Government offers sound advice on the various stages of managing a dispute, which are outlined HERE.
Jan Goodchild, Marketing Manager at Deacon. Deacon has specialised in providing buildings insurance and associated products for flats and apartments for more than 29 years.
The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the authors only and are for guidance purposes only. The authors disclaim any liability for reliance upon those opinions and would encourage readers to rely upon more than one source before making a decision based on the information.