Posted on 23.8.16 by Danielle Clements
Sometimes disputes are not just with an individual neighbour, but with a neighbourhood in general. There are neighbourhood rules regarding noise, such as the use of loudspeakers is not permitted in the streets between the hours of 9pm and 8am. It is illegal to use loudspeaker for advertising, entertainment, trade or business purposes at any hour. There is an exception to this rule for vehicles that sell food (such as ice cream) but the loudspeakers are only permitted to be used between the hours of midday and 7pm in a way that will not annoy people nearby. If you have a problem with neighbourhood noise, the appropriate course of action is to contact your local authority or police.
Talking to your neighbours and requesting they decrease the noise is the first step. If nothing comes from this, if your neighbour is a tenant then you could contact their landlord. If the issue continues, it is useful to keep a record or diary of the disturbances which can be used as evidence in any future action.
Local authorities have extensive powers to deal with noise nuisances, you can speak to the Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to investigate the noise. They can measure the level of the noise and provide an expert opinion on how it rates as a noise nuisance. Local authorities have powers to seize noise-making equipment.
If you have tried the above then you should consider speaking to the council or seeking legal advice.
Shared amenities and who is responsible?
Sometimes there are shared features between two or more properties, such as the roof of a block of flats, drains and pipes, or shared driveways. Rights to use them (ie. Putting up an aerial on a shared chimney) and responsibilities for preserving them are usually set out in the property’s legal documents.
These documents might give you as a property owner rights to use or access your neighbour’s property for specific reasons. Sometimes they are not included in the legal documents but have arisen out of long, continuous and unchallenged use (usually 20 years.)
In some circumstances there may be occasions when your property’s legal documents do not expressly give you a right to access your neighbour’s property but you need to. For example, if you need to repair a drain or pipe and that pipe is also on your neighbours land then you can seek your neighbours’ permission to enter to gain access to their land to carry out the work, bearing in mind. Although that any damage incurred to that your neighbour’s property must be corrected. If your neighbour refuses to grant you access, an application can be made to a county court for an access order.
Fences, walls and boundaries
When disputes occur over boundaries between properties it is necessary to ascertain who owns the disputed land. However, the boundaries between properties can differ from those described in the title documents or lease in certain situations. The most common are where they have been changed by agreement or by encroachment. (Occupation without permission). If you think that there is an issue with the boundaries, you should get legal advice from a solicitor.
There are special rules relating to structural work to walls which stand across the boundary of land belonging to different owners, or which are used by two or more owners to separate properties. The owner must notify neighbours about any work they intend to carry out. These rules allow for the agreement or objection to any work within the certain time limits, and compensation and temporary protection for buildings and property. If there is no agreement, an independent surveyor can be appointed to decide what work can be done, and how and when.
Planning permission is not generally needed before putting up a wall or fence, as long as it is no more than two metres, except for if next to a highway in which case it must be no more than one metre high. If you want to exceed these limits you must get planning permission from the local authority.
Residents do not have automatic rights to a parking space on a public road except if there are local parking constraints giving a right to a particular space. However, occupants do have a right of access to their drive. If there is a shared drive, then each individual has a right of access and neither should block the drive. The local authority and police have wide powers to remove vehicles that are illegally parked or abandoned.
What are the legalities concerning disabled parking spaces on public street or spaces reserved for businesses for operations such as loading or delivering goods?
If there are signs on a public road showing that a space is reserved for disabled persons then you must not park in it without a disabled badge. If, like in city centres, there are signs showing that restrictions are in place to allow businesses to load and unload during specified hours then you must not park in the spaces within the timescales identified. In all cases the Council has the authority to fine you and in the worst case tow your vehicle away.
Are there any implications for people who obstruct a path or street with their parking, ie. parking on the kerb forcing people to walk on the road and around the vehicle, especially people with prams or in wheelchairs?
Pavement parking has only been made illegal in specific parts of London therefore in other parts of England and Wales it is not an offence to park on footpaths or verges however this does not mean you are entitled to park just anywhere. The rules very according to local authority but you can be fined if, for example, you park so that you are obstructing the dropped kerb and yellow strip that is designed to guide pedestrians to a safe crossing point.
See our articles about neighbour disputes for more information.