Neighbour related problems are on the rise, that’s according to recent research by AA Home Insurance, which reveals that 16% of legal expenses claims made to the AA in 2018 were down to neighbour related issues. That compares to only 14% of claims made in 2017
According to the AA, the most common claims are made because of:
- Water Leaks
- Tree root damage
- Party wall damage due to building works
- Prevention of a right of way to a policyholder’s property
- Invasive plants such as bamboo, ivy & knotweed
One of the most frequently asked questions from those insured with the AA was, does my insurance cover damage caused by neighbours?
The AA replies that, most home insurance policies don’t specifically mention damage caused by neighbours, but it says it’ll be covered by most policies.
If a neighbour, for example, living in a flat above, floods the flat below, causing damage to yours, you’d be protected by ‘escape of water’ cover.
Alternatively, if a little menace next door kicks a football through your kitchen window, you’d also be covered if your policy has ‘accidental damage’ cover.
However, in both of the above examples, any policy excess payment would apply.
It is important that landlords to read through policy documents thoroughly to check what cover they have, and if there are any restrictions.
It is very important to make sure that your landlord policy covers public liability / third party claims, such as accidents at the property. A normal household policy will not give landlords total protection to these potentially very expensive claims.
You should always politely inform your neighbours and your insurers when you do notice the initial signs of damage – or the possibility of damage and a claim. The neighbours may not be aware that their actions are damaging your property.
Your neighbour may not always be held responsible for damage to your home says the AA if, for example, a storm is a cause for a tile falling off their roof and causing damage to your property, then the neighbour is unlikely to be responsible.
Should the dispute be unresolved by discussion, mediation is an effective way to resolve inter-neighbour disputes if the parties can agree to it.
Mediation is when an impartial legal representative acts as a referee between two people who have fallen out. They work to resolve disputes and come up with a mutually beneficial agreement for both parties. Although, a fee may apply it’s generally quicker and cheaper than going to court, even if your home insurance covers legal expense cover. This course of action prevents the need for either side to take legal action. It also stops any disputes from getting worse.
When claiming for damage caused by neighbours you should keep a detailed written record of the problem by way of a journal, including photographs if possible. The photographs will serve as your evidence that the issue is ongoing, and potentially getting worse.
If the damage caused by your neighbour is substantial, is not covered by your insurer, and your neighbour refuses to assist, then you may have to consider legal action as a last resort. When your policy includes legal expenses cover this you can use for your potential legal action.
However, the AA says, your insurer will usually first consider whether your claim has ‘reasonable prospects’, that is ‘a 51% and above chance of succeeding and enforcing any award’.
You can still take legal action if your home insurance doesn’t include legal expenses, although this can be a costly process.
The AA release this animated video surrounding Neighbour Damage©LandlordZONE® – legal content applies primarily to England and is not a definitive statement of the law, always seek professional advice.