Headlines: September 30th, 2009

Cutrs in the frequency of household refuse collections are contributing to an increase in disputes between neighbours, according to research published today. The study from Halifax Home Insurance shows that after a decade of improvement, reports of neighbour disturbances have risen by a third in two years

Figures show that almost one in five homeowners have experienced serious problems with neighbours this year, the highest proportion since 1997. While the biggest causes of problems are excessive noise, rude or intimidating behaviour and the ‘hijacking’ of boundaries through illegal building or structural work, there has been a significant rise in disputes about rubbish.

The study shows a ten per cent increase in cases of rubbish being dumped illegally on neighbouring property since 2007. This, it says, is particularly marked in areas where refuse collections have been cut back and councils have introduced fortnightly bin emptying. The insurer says damage to buildings and property can result and estimates that ‘neighbour inflicted’ problems cost Britons more than three billion pounds last year. Disputes also affect the health and well-being of homeowners, it says, with 58 per cent reporting increased stress, sleeplessness or family arguments.

Martyn Foulds, senior claims manager at Halifax Home Insurance said: “It’s clear that neighbour nuisance is a real and growing problem that affects thousands of Britons.” In serious cases, he said, homeowners could take legal action but there were many things they could do to try to improve relations before taking that option. The company is making available advice, including guidance from an environmental health officer at www.halifaxhomematters.co.uk.