If you and your neighbour disagree about a wall or fence, there are things you can do to solve the problem. Examples of problems could be a wall that needs repairing or who should pay to replace a fence.
If you rent your home, ask your landlord if they’ll deal with the problem on your behalf. You shouldn’t make any changes to walls or fences without their permission.
Before you can solve the problem, you need to know where the boundary between your homes is. This will help you to understand whose property the wall or fence is on or whether it’s shared between you.
The best way to find out is to check the legal documents you got when you bought your home.
You can buy the documents from the Land Registry if you don’t have them - it doesn't cost a lot. It might be a good idea to buy the documents for your neighbour’s home too - they might give information that’s not covered in yours.
If you’re disagreeing with your neighbour about where the boundary is, you can get help from RICS - they work with surveyors who can help with property problems.
The wall’s likely to be a ‘party wall’ whether it’s outdoors or an internal wall. You’ll need to follow certain steps before you can do any work on it, for example giving written notice. You can check if it’s a party wall on GOV.UK. If it is, find out how to agree the work with your neighbour.
If you know where the boundary is and you don’t need to follow the process for party walls, the best approach is to talk to your neighbour.
Talk to them face to face if you can - make a note of what you agreed. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to them, write to them or ask someone to contact them for you. Keep copies of any letters or emails you send or receive.
It’s often best to find a compromise, for example sharing the cost of a new fence panel. It could help you to keep a good relationship and will probably be cheaper than paying a solicitor to resolve the disagreement.
Your neighbour doesn’t have to change a wall or fence just because you want them to, for example making it higher for privacy. You can’t make changes to your side without their permission, such as painting it.
If the wall or fence seems dangerous, point this out because your neighbour might not be aware.
If they don’t repair it, you can report a dangerous wall or structure to your council on GOV.UK.
Look at the legal documents for your home. They might say you have to keep the wall or fence that you’re disagreeing about in a good state of repair.
You should also check if the wall or fence is safe - if it isn’t, your neighbour or the council could take action against you.
If the wall or fence is safe and there’s nothing about repairing it in your legal documents, it’s up to you whether you do what your neighbour’s asking.
If you’re not sure what to do, you can get help at your nearest Citizens Advice.
If you still can’t agree, you can get help from a mediator - this is someone who doesn’t know either of you and is trained to help people resolve disagreements.
It’s a good idea to ask your council if they can help you find a mediator.
You can find your council on GOV.UK
If you still need help, you can look for a mediator on GOV.UK.
You might have to pay for a mediator.
If the problem continues, you’ll need to get help from a solicitor who specialises in neighbour disputes - but this will be expensive.
You can check if you can get help with costs.
Online Advice is provided by citizensadvice.org.uk; copyright © 2021 Citizens Advice