Difficulties with neighbours?
At CHS we regularly speak to people who are finding the relationship with their neighbours difficult, and we know if you’re affected it can be very stressful. The pressures of the last year and being at home much more seem to have increased some of these challenges.
It’s not always easy to have a positive relationship with neighbours – perhaps they have a very different lifestyle or personality, or there may be events in the past that have upset one or both of you. If you call us to say there’s a problem with your neighbour, we’ll ask if you’ve tried to talk to them about it – sometimes they’re just not aware of the impact they have on those around them, and getting a call from CHS about it (rather than hearing from you) can aggravate the situation instead of helping.
There are some issues that CHS won’t be able to help with directly, including personal disputes, unpleasantness on social media, normal domestic noises, disagreements about parking, normal noise from children. Unless someone is breaking their tenancy conditions, it really is best to resolve any problems with your neighbour in person and CHS will not get involved. We do acknowledge the history between people may make this seem impossible or daunting, so do talk to us if you need advice. It may help reduce the tension in long running issues by entering independent mediation if both parties are willing, and we may help arrange this. There have been some surprisingly good outcomes from mediation between neighbours who really couldn’t get on at all before it began.
Sometimes neighbours make allegations to CHS about each other and it’s really not clear to us who, if anyone, is ‘in the wrong’. We listen objectively to both parties; if they are the sort of issues we won’t get involved in, we’ll give advice but not take formal action. If there is anti-social behaviour, many issues can be resolved by talking to your neighbour e.g. about noise levels. If that doesn’t work and the issue is causing you a lot of disturbance, your Housing Officer might help explain to your neighbour what needs to change (e.g. less loud noise late at night). Quite often this may be all that is needed.
In a small minority of cases if significant anti-social behaviour continues or if someone is found to be personally harassing a neighbour, we may need to look at more formal action. Your Housing Officer will agree an action plan with you depending on what the problem is. This can be frustrating as it takes time to resolve, even where the evidence of anti-social behaviour is strong.
Your Housing Officer would advise you on the options available and the powers CHS can use. We may give written warnings; and where the evidence confirms serious allegations, we may serve pre-court legal notices which may lead to court action if breaches of tenancy conditions continue. Sometimes it is very difficult to gather the evidence required to take formal action; for example, the smell of cannabis is unpleasant to many people however it’s also difficult to prove its source. For other criminal behaviour we may need to ask the police to provide evidence, which takes time.
In very rare cases we may apply to the county court to end a tenancy. This would be at the court’s discretion if it could be proved that tenancy conditions had been breached and that it was reasonable to end the tenancy as a result. Such action takes a long time and is often a stressful process for those involved, for example in having to give evidence in court and being cross-examined. Every tenant has the right to a fair hearing, and it is a Judge in court that decides whether we can take the drastic step of ending their tenancy. This would be a last resort and we will always persist with other attempts to resolve the situation. For other criminal behaviour we may rely on the police taking action and sometimes providing us with evidence.