If you're having a dispute with a neighbour, there are things you can do to try to resolve it including:
- talking to your neighbour about the problem
- speaking to your neighbour's landlord if they rent their home
- asking for your landlord's help to resolve the problem if you live in social housing
- asking for help from an independent person by going to 'mediation'
- getting legal advice
- reporting antisocial behaviour to your local council or the police
Going to court to solve a problem can be stressful, cost you money and take a long time. It's usually best to try to find another solution.
You may be able to resolve a problem with your neighbour by talking to them about it.
If you're worried about speaking to your neighbour, you could write them a letter.
Mediation is when you use an independent expert who won't take sides to help you decide what to do about your problem. This person is called a mediator. It will be you and your neighbour - not the mediator - who decide what to do next.
Find a mediation service using:
- Scottish Mediation – the professional body for mediators in Scotland
- Safer Communities - Reducing Offending (SACRO) – community mediation for local disputes in neighbourhoods (available in Aberdeen, Musselburgh, Kirkcaldy, Elgin and Perth)
- Disability Conciliation Service – offers disabled people and service providers a way to sort out problems
- the Law Society of Scotland
Sometimes a mediation service will cost money. If you can't afford it, you can try to get help to pay for it through legal aid.
If your neighbour is behaving in an antisocial way you can report their behaviour to the police or your local council.
Common types of antisocial behaviour are:
- being noisy or a nuisance
- behaving in a threatening way
- vandalising near your home
The police or your local council will decide how to deal with antisocial behaviour. One option they can choose is to give the person or people you report an Antisocial Behaviour Order (ASBO).
Anyone over the age of 12 can be given an Antisocial Behaviour Order (ASBO).
There's more information about your options on the Citizens Advice website.
Unwelcome noise is a common problem between neighbours and can include:
- loud music
- barking dogs
Try talking to your neighbour about the problem first. If this doesn't work, you could suggest mediation or speak to your neighbour's landlord.
If none of these things work, you can contact your local council about the problem.
Local councils can do several things to try to tackle neighbour noise issues. They can:
- issue the person or people with an 'noise abatement notice' - this demands that noise stops or is limited for example music is not played after 9pm. If you fail to comply with an abatement notice you could face prosecution
- give a warning notice or a fine called a fixed penalty notice
- remove whatever is making the noise from the house
Boundaries separate your home (and garden if you have one) from the homes beside you. Disputes over boundaries are common between neighbours and they can be caused by:
- trees overhanging into gardens
- home extensions
- high hedges blocking light
Finding out where your home's boundaries are
If you own your home, you should be able to find out about your home's boundaries by:
- looking at your title deeds - it'll usually give you measurements of the area you own
- checking the Land Register if you own a new home or bought your home recently
- contacting Registers of Scotland
If you're a tenant, your tenancy contract may tell you where the boundaries of your home are. If it doesn't, you could ask your landlord to find out for you.
Resolving the boundary dispute
You should try to resolve a boundary dispute by talking to your neighbour. If this doesn't work, you could try:
- mediation - for example if the boundaries aren't clear
- contacting your neighbour's landlord if their home is rented
- speaking to your local council about the problem
Find out more information about boundary disputes on Shelter's website.
A hedge is considered a "high hedge" if it:
- forms a row of two or more trees or shrubs
- rises to a height of more than two metres above the ground
- and forms a barrier to light
If your neighbour has a high hedge, you must show that you've tried to resolve the problem with them before your council will help.
If speaking to your neighbour about it doesn't work, you should write them a letter. In the letter you should:
- point out that they have a high hedge
- ask them to cut it
- let them know that if they don't cut it, you'll apply to the council for a 'high hedge notice'
If you ask the council for help, they'll send someone to your home to check whether the hedge is high. If they think it is, the hedge owner must trim the hedge to comply with the law.
Both the person who complained and the person with the hedge can appeal the council's decision.