Neighbours. Everybody needs good neighbours. But with UK councils recording 3,270 complaints relating to neighbours’ garden disputes in the last year alone (and 19,749 between 2012 and May of this year), it seems that us Brits just can’t get along when it comes to those shared fences or green spaces.
After analysing Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from councils across the country, Tiger Sheds can reveal that the number of grumpy gardeners has risen steadily year on year from 2012 (2,660 complaints) to 2016 (3,338 complaints), dropping only slightly last year to 3,270.
Warwickshire County Council leads the pack with 1,256 complaints from 2012 until May this year, suggesting that the idyllic county of Shakespeare isn’t as peaceful as you might expect.
Over the last few years, the nation has become more polarised, especially in terms of politics and debate. One such divider, of course, is Brexit, so perhaps it is unsurprising that 2016 (the year of the vote) saw the number of garden disputes reach its peak.
However, if last year’s figures are anything to go by, hopefully things are beginning to calm down and we might see a return to 2012 levels where national pride peaked and the London Olympics seemed to break down the British stiff upper lip, bringing people together.
In support of these FOI findings, the garden building retailer also surveyed the nation and can reveal that almost two-thirds (65%) of Brits admit to getting annoyed with the people next door over their gardens. But with two in five (40%) saying they feel irritated when their neighbours spend a lot of time in their private green space as it ‘invades their privacy’, it could be argued that expectations are a little unreasonable.
Survey respondents also revealed details of arguments they had had with the people next door: “My neighbour’s tree stopped me from getting a satellite tv signal but they refused to trim the tree back,” said one, while another objected to “kids shouting and drinking booze while parents are out”. One respondent admitted to challenging their neighbour as their “neglect of their backyard results in weeds invading my carefully cultivated flowerbeds”, resulting in the neighbour “threatening legal action” in response.
Almost a third (31%) of Brits admit to arguing with their neighbours or coming close to losing their tempers. But how can we avoid things going too far? Saddat Abid, Senior Property Buyer at Property Saviour shares his tips on what you can do if you do find yourself facing a dispute with your neighbour.
“If you have exhausted trying to resolve the situation yourself, you can always try a mediation service. Local community mediation services looks to create a win-win scenario for both parties, and are normally free in most areas since they are funded by the council or local charities. In some cases you may have to pay up to £500, however this is still much cheaper than taking unnecessary legal action.
“Both neighbours have to agree to split up the cost of the mediation service early on. Once an agreement has been reached either verbally or in writing, the mediator will back off. They will then check back in a month’s time to ensure that both parties are sticking to the agreement.”
Jack Sutcliffe, Executive at Tiger Sheds added: “Living with your neighbours can be hard, but it’s important to try to get along for an easy home and garden life. If you don’t already, having an agreement with your neighbour over who’s responsible for what parts of the hedge and/or fence is a great way to ensure you’re all on the same page.
“If you do find yourself falling out with your neighbour over the garden, try to talk it out before it escalates. It’ll be better for your relationship in the long run and will mean you can keep enjoying your garden without the fear of a fall out.”