NEIGHBOUR DISPUTES CAN GET NASTY QUICKLY

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Who really wins when the battle lines are drawn, relationships become acrimonious and compromise apparently unachievable?

Over the years I have been drawn into a number of neighbour disputes from relatively minor stormwater issues, to damaged retaining wall and most seriously to a neighbour’s building encroaching onto the abutting neighbour’s property.

It intrigues me how quickly relationships can deteriorate when conflict arises. Admittedly in most cases it appears there where strained relationship to start with or even existing animosity already existed over other issues.

Once an issue requiring consensus arises quite quickly lines are drawn, communications break down or name calling starts. When things deteriorate to this level it is very difficult for any progress with the issue being made as egos/money is involved and neither party wants to be seen as backing down or being taken advantage of.

If the issue is serious enough and will not go away the protagonist start looking around for someone who could help. There are options such as mediation services offered by community or government agencies, the local Council, professionals and/or the Courts. Because I have gotten involved they have sort my professional services to assist in resolving a property related issue. I hear mediation services can be effective but I cannot really comment.

The stormwater, gutter and salt damp issue was relatively easily sorted with some mediation between the two parties on my behalf. The neighbour’s masonry building encroaching onto the property of their neighbour resulted in correspondence with their solicitor and counter claims. The matter was never really resolved because the party arguably at fault decided to sell their property. We made it obvious through all relevant parties that the prospective purchasers should be made aware there is an issue and it has not be resolved.

The matter of the retaining wall involved unapproved demolition and excavation on the neighbouring property causing damaging my client’s substantial retaining wall and causing damage to their abutting elevated driveway.
There were numerous meetings, emails, correspondence and telephone calls before it was apparent the parties could not agree on a course of action. The relevant council in this case offered little assistance and in fact actually inflamed the situation by appearing to take sides in the matter to excuse the unusual behaviour of Council officers. Ultimately the matter ended up in the ERD Court where sense prevailed and the respondents agreed to rectify the damage and reimburse the applicant for most of their expenses.

Having been a Town Planner for over 30 years human nature is always intriguing but sometime challenging when egos, property and money are involved.