Neighbour disputes—building works and harassment

The following Property Disputes practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Neighbour disputes—building works and harassment
  • Protection from Harassment Act 1997
  • Reasonable foreseeability
  • Proprietary interest

Neighbour disputes—building works and harassment

Damage and disruption caused by building works are usually the subject of a claim in trespass, nuisance or negligence. This Practice Note briefly explains the prospect of an alternative or additional claim under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PHA 1997).

Jones v Ruth illustrates these various claims including the possibility of making a statutory claim for harassment, where those carrying out the works are aggressive and act in an unco-operative way in response to any complaints.

The case concerned a dispute between neighbours over building works that overran by four years. The works, carried out by Mr and Mrs Ruth, caused damage to the adjoining property, noise and pollution, and prevented their neighbours from enjoying the use of their garden.

Mr and Mrs Ruth had also displayed an aggressive and intimidatory attitude towards their neighbours. This included abusive notes relating to the neighbours’ same-sex relationship. They had also refused to provide information on the progress of the works and ignored requests to reduce the noise emanating from their property and make good damage. This caused one of the neighbours psychiatric harm, manifesting as severe back pain, which left her unable to work.

The claims for trespass (for drilling holes into a gable wall and

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