Neighbourhood Disputes

If you are having a dispute with your neighbour it is important to try to resolve it as early as possible. Once a problem escalates, it can result in entrenched conflict that becomes disabling for all concerned and very difficult to resolve.

The best first step is always communication. If you can, talk to your neighbour. Discuss the practical aspects of the problem, how it is affecting you both and what needs to be done to solve it. Be sure to treat your neighbour with courtesy and respect and listen to what they have to say. Keep a record of all contact you have regarding the problem.

Know your legal position. Whether you intend to take legal action or not, knowing what the law is can better equip you to realistically assess your options, negotiate more effectively for a good outcome and make sound decisions about the next steps to take. As well, some problems are soon solved once the parties know where they stand and what the law expects of them.

Mediation is an excellent alternative to legal action for many types of dispute and is well-suited to neighbour disputes. It is especially useful where you are finding it difficult to talk directly to your neighbour or have been slow to make progress, where conflict has become entrenched or the problem is escalating. Mediation gives you the opportunity to meet with your neighbour on neutral ground and discuss the matter in the presence of a trained mediator to work out a solution together that suits both your needs. Mediation is available across NSW through Community Justice Centres (CJCs). It is a free and confidential service that can save you expense and delay, not to mention the stress, that’s involved in taking the matter to court.

Legal Action. Using the legal system offers certain advantages but also involves significant risks. It is often preferable to try to resolve your dispute by other means.

Advantages include:

  • it gives an impartial decision maker the responsibility for solving a problem that you have been unable to solve
  • it offers a way to contain and end the dispute in a systematic and orderly way
  • the outcome has the full force and authority of the law.

Disadvantages include:

  • the dispute will be decided not by applying principles of fairness and justice, but by applying the law
  • you cannot control the outcome, and you might not like it
  • there can be considerable stress, expense and delay involved

For further information about neighbourhood disputes visit the Legal Answers website.