If you’ve ever vacuumed your house after 8pm, done DIY on a Sunday or allowed your kids to bounce on a trampoline in the back garden, you could be deemed a nuisance neighbour – and have unwittingly broken the law as a result.
Picking fruit from an overhanging tree, lashing one end of a washing line to a neighbour’s fence and even running an over-bubbly hot tub could also make you a law-breaker.
"Nuisance behaviour is not limited to simply loud music and late night parties,” Danielle Clements, a specialist in property litigation and dispute at Gorvins Solicitors, told the Mirror.
“People are often surprised by what legally is deemed to be a nuisance.”
Manchester firm Gorvins has drawn up a list of common offences that you could be committing without even realising it, many of which unwittingly constitute theft, fly tipping, breaches of environmental regulations and even human rights breaches.
Are you a naughty neighbour? 10 accidental offences
Crossing the line
If you want to attach a washing line or plants to a neighbour’s wall or fence you must obtain their consent – it’s their property after all.
A quarter of UK adults had a problem with nuisance neighbours in 2013/14, according to Which?, and a lot of this is down to noise disturbance. A bubbling hot tub and even a small water feature could be annoying your neighbours.
"We received a complaint from an individual that was founded on noise from a water feature that was constantly turned on," Clements told the Mirror.
"Depending on the level of the noise this unbelievably can actually be a legal nuisance."
Noise regulations also cover DIY and domestic chores. Environmental health officers recommend that use of power tools and noisy domestic appliances – including vacuum cleaners and washing machines - should only take place between 8am and 6pm on weekdays, between 8am and 1pm on Saturdays and never on a Sunday. Tell that to the missus.
Tree’s a crowd
Overhanging branches from your neighbours’ garden might be annoying but you can only cut them back as far as your own fence – cutting over your neighbours’ property is illegal. And if a tree has a preservation order you can’t cut it at all.
You can’t take fruit from a neighbour’s tree even if it does overhang your land – this is theft.
Trim and proper
Don’t throw hedge or tree trimmings back over your neighbour’s fence without their consent – this could be considered fly tipping.
Make sure your CCTV cameras don’t point at part or all of your neighbour’s land. This could breach privacy laws and could be seen as harassment under the Human Rights Act.
Security lighting can constitute light pollution if it shines directly into a neighbour’s property.
For the high jump
If your kids have a trampoline in the back garden, make sure they can’t see into the neighbours’ garden as they leap – this could also be seen as an invasion of privacy. Keep an ear on their sound levels too.
Smoky, not chokey
As the summer barbecue season approaches, spare a thought for your neighbours – smoke from the grill, a chiminea, garden fire of even an indoor wood burner can constitute a nuisance.
Do you have nuisance neighbours? Share your stories in the Comments section below.