Love thy neighbour – preventing & solving neighbour disputes

We all want to live in harmony with our neighbours. But in reality, that doesn’t always happen. Living in close proximity to others can bring out the best but also the worst in people. This has been exacerbated over the last two years with more people spending time at home due to the pandemic. While most disputes between neighbours are easily and quickly resolved, some can escalate quickly if they’re not dealt with quickly and in the right way.

So what are the most common issues that cause grief between neighbours?

1. Fences

Fences traditionally cause more tension between neighbours than any other issue. By law, neighbours must agree on adequate fencing between their properties and bear half the cost each if the dividing fence needs to be repaired or replaced. Issues arise when neighbours can’t agree on the size, material and cost of the fence. Where one may be happy with a modest fence, the other may have grander ideas that cost a lot more. Disputes can also arise over the placement of the fence. Lawyers say it is common for people to dispute fence placement believing that it encroaches on their land, making their block smaller and their neighbour’s larger.

2. Trees and hedges

Trees and hedges are second only to fences in the number of complaints made and can become costly disputes if neighbours can’t find a mutually agreeable solution. For example, the root systems of large trees can lift driveways and cause cracks. And the roots of trees like Jacarandas can invade sewer pipes and swimming pools. Then there’s the fast growing trees that block sunlight and views. All of these can lead to heated arguments between neighbours and costly debates in court if not resolved early.

3. Noise

With more people at home during the pandemic, it will probably come as no surprise that noise complaints increased between neighbours during the last two years. The main complaints centred on home schooling activities and renovating, especially from neighbours working from home.

In one of Australia’s most locked-down states – Victoria – noise complaints to the EPA rose a staggering 108% during 2020-2021.

4. Barking dogs

This is another one that probably won’t surprise you. Dog ownership in Australia rose 19% during the pandemic. While those beloved pooches may have been well-behaved when their owners were working from home and keeping them company, that’s all changed for many since the owners have returned to the office. A constantly bark dog can test even the best relationship between neighbours.

How to resolve a dispute with your neighbour

  1. Start by talking to your neighbour early, before the matter escalates. They may not even be aware of the issue and probably want to keep the peace as much as you do.
  2. If a friendly chat with your neighbour doesn’t resolve the issue, consider asking someone impartial to become involved, perhaps another neighbour.
  3. If none of the above helps and things escalate, get in touch with a mediator.  In WA, contact the Department of Justice for assistance. 

Taking the matter to court should be a last resort.

Post by ShelMarkblog 14 Apr 2022 0