Negotiation and mediation for neighbour disputes

Set up a meeting

It is almost always better to take early steps to try to solve a problem with your neighbour before it gets worse. You can do this face to face, by letter, email or telephone.

Use a neutral venue where you're both safe and comfortable. Take a friend or adviser with you if you feel this will help, but make sure you tell your neighbour.

Prepare for the meeting by writing down what you want to say and what you want to achieve. You may need to meet again at a later date to review progress.

Negotiate with your neighbour

If you are talking about legal rights, like the position of a boundary, make sure that you say that the negotiations are 'without prejudice'. That way, neither side can use what is said against the other person if you end up going to court.

Write down anything that's agreed between you, even if you only agree to investigate further and then meet again. Ask your neighbour to sign this document. Only sign something that you agree with.

If there's no agreement, then you'll need to try mediation or other methods to resolve the dispute. 

Look into mediation

A mediator is someone who is not involved in the dispute and can help you to come to an agreement. The purpose is to reach a common sense outcome that both sides agree on. A mediator could be a member of your local community or someone with a professional qualification.

To find a professional mediator, ask the council or contacta local advice centre for a list. Some councils and housing associations provide free mediation services to their tenants.

Use the Ministry of Justice search to find a mediation service in your local area.

At the mediation stage, you are trying to reach an outcome that is acceptable to both sides. You may have to accept less than you want, so think about what is most important to you.

Serious or violent disputes

There are some arguments that you shouldn't try to resolve by negotiation or mediation. These include:

  • serious crime such as a theft or violent assault
  • an ongoing court case
  • a dispute where you have already tried negotiation or mediation unsuccessfully
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