Life

Lessons Learned: Navigating Neighbor Disputes in the UK – When Communication Fails, Knowledge is Power

There is a saying in China: distant relatives are not as good as close neighbors, but this is not the case in the UK. Li Qunying, who immigrated to the UK, feels the same way. In the past five years, she has been sued eight times by her neighbors. The reasons were all trivial in her opinion, such as removing the fence that separated the two yards, and her child’s death. The Frisbee flew into the neighbor’s house, where the trash can was placed, etc. The most outrageous thing is that several big trees in front of his house affected the lighting of his neighbor’s house, and Li Qunying was also sued in court. Gradually, Li Qunying discovered that it was not that he was unlucky, but that in the UK, it was very common to litigate neighbor relations. The British are not good at words and fear social interaction. They would rather litigate than solve problems through communication.
  A Frisbee caused a neighbor’s lawsuit.
   In 2012, I graduated from the University of Cambridge in the UK and worked at a stock exchange in London. Because of work, I met Cody from New York, USA, and we established a romantic relationship after being together for half a year. In order to save money on rent, we decided to live together.
   Through an agency, we looked at several houses, and after weighing them, we finally chose an old villa in a nearby suburb. Not only was this villa decorated in a simple and beautiful way, but there were also several families around the house. I like a lively place where I can invite my neighbors over for hot pot or host holiday parties on weekends.
   After my colleague Linda learned why I chose this house, she suggested that I should not interact with the neighbors, as they would probably not appreciate my kindness.
   I’m a little confused. In China, “distant relatives are not as good as close neighbors.” It is very important for Chinese people to have good neighborly relations. After all, they can help each other in emergencies. Soon, I got a clear idea of ​​the situation of my neighbors. The nearest ones were a British couple, the girl was named Laun and the boy was named Dinis. After they retired, they occasionally traveled abroad. Their favorite thing to do was Take care of their farm. There is a family of three 40 meters away from my house. The husband is Nathan from Northern Ireland, and the wife is American Agatha. They are busy with work every day and rarely meet.
   One weekend, I knocked on the door of Lawn’s house with steaming dumplings in hand. She looked at me like a thief, and I quickly explained my purpose and asked her to try some Chinese dumplings. Lawn stared at me and said seriously: “Thank you, no need.” I was a little embarrassed, and when I was about to leave, Dinis came out and asked me what happened. I quickly explained the purpose of my visit again, saying that I was a new neighbor and that I came to the door just to get acquainted with them. Dinis looked at the dumplings in my hand and politely refused. When I got home, I was sulking, but Cody thought it was reasonable and said that my efforts in building relationships would work in China, but in Europe and the United States, my efforts would be in vain.
   We met again half a month later. Lawn stopped me and asked me what I meant by tearing down the fence. In a daze, I remembered. Two days ago, I thought the fence outside my house was in disrepair, so I started to tear it down. I quickly explained that I had indeed taken down the fences, and if those fences were still usable, she could take them back.
   Who knew that as soon as I finished speaking, Lawn said with a face: “These fences separate your house from mine. Now that there is no fence, I feel like I have no privacy, so you’d better fix the fence.” Looking angry Loud Lawn, I find it funny. The fence belongs to my house and I have the right to deal with it. What right does she have to criticize? I decided to ignore it. When I ran into Lawn again, she warned me that if I didn’t fix the fence, she would sue me. It’s really unreasonable. Can you commit such a big thing?
   On the weekends, Cody and I played Frisbee with our dog on the lawn outside our house, our laughter filling the air. Not far away, Lawn and Dinis were sitting in rocking chairs and resting. Maybe our voices affected their rest, and they chatted for a long time.
   I signaled Cody to keep his voice down, but Cody was unhappy and said he could do whatever he wanted at home. When the fun got going, the dog failed to catch Cody’s flying disc and ended up next to Lawn’s rocking chair. Just when I was worrying about how to get the Frisbee back from Lawn, she picked up the Frisbee and went straight home.
   I caught up and apologized for disturbing her rest, hoping she would return my Frisbee. Who knew, Lawn ignored me at all.
   That afternoon, I received a call from the community lawyer saying that Lawn had sued us through him. I suddenly got a little excited. She took my Frisbee and refused to return it, and now she even hired a lawyer to sue us. The lawyer told me that Lawn was suing me not only because I took down the fence, but also because the Frisbee crossed into their home and violated their right to rest. If Lawn’s request is supported by the court, I will need to pay £500 in compensation.
   I checked online and found out that there are lawyers like this in many communities. As long as you pay 50 pounds, they can provide one-stop services.
   I told my colleagues about my experience, and they reassured me that it would be better to spend money to ward off the disaster. Sure enough, half a month later, I received the court’s judgment. They approved Lawn’s request and required me to pay 300 pounds in compensation. It’s a small expense, because a Frisbee that crosses the boundary becomes a defendant. I really can’t figure it out. Neighbors can’t negotiate well. Do they have to solve the problem in such a cold way?
   After paying £300, I got my Frisbee back. I hoped to take this as an opportunity to repair the relationship with Lawn, so while sending her 300 pounds, I also brought her a box of tea.
   Just when I was thinking that I could be a good neighbor with Lawn, two months later I received another summons from the court. It was Lawn who was suing me. The reason was that the location of the grape trellis in my house affected the passage of her car. I was a little unbelievable to be sued by Lawn again, and the news fed back by Cody made me even more depressed.
   It turned out that the couple had long been “notorious” and had taken the tenants of the house where I lived to court many times in the past three years. I suddenly realized that no wonder the landlord was willing to rent the house to us at such a low rent because we had such difficult neighbors. If we can’t afford to offend him, we can’t afford to hide. After discussing it with Cody, we decided to leave.
   On the day of the move, Lawn and Dinis looked at us from a distance, as if they were hesitant to speak. I gave them a hard look: I don’t believe I can’t find neighbors who are willing to live in harmony!
  Even if you move
   , you won’t be able to escape a lawsuit. Soon, I found a good house through a real estate agency. I learned a lot from the experience. I paid more attention to checking the neighbors than renting. The landlord told me that the Wilsons lived nearby and their son worked in the United States, so they spent most of their time in the United States with their son and only came back to stay for a while in the winter. I checked online about the Wilsons’ situation and found no record of them suing their neighbors. After some research, I signed a one-year contract with the landlord.
   After moving in, I carefully decorated the room and it became my dream home. We had a great time without any disturbance from neighbors. Just when we were enjoying ourselves, I unexpectedly discovered that the Wilsons were back. When I inquired, it turned out that his son had quit his job in the United States and joined a local company in London. I picked up a bag of Chinese snacks and knocked on my neighbor’s door. The Wilsons were wary of Cody and me’s arrival. I told them that since they are lucky enough to be neighbors, feel free to ask for anything in the future. As long as I have time, I will do it.
   However, my move did not win over the Wilsons. A month later, I received a letter from a lawyer because they complained that I “continuously” blocked the road to their orchard because I placed trash cans and parked cars on the road. vehicles, and “authorized contractors” parked skips, trucks and cement mixers on the road.
   I suddenly felt dizzy. During this period, with the consent of the landlord, I repaired the greenway outside the house. The original one-week construction period was delayed by three days due to various reasons. I have already filed a record with the police. Unexpectedly, it would affect the lives of the Wilsons. After the greenway was built, they were also the beneficiaries. How could I become a villain?
   It was three days later when I saw the Wilsons again. I thought the greenway had been repaired and they would withdraw the lawsuit. Unexpectedly, the Wilsons were unwilling to give in and insisted that I compensate them for not having a good rest in the past few days. Seeing that the Wilsons were unkind, I rejected their request. Apparently I underestimated the determination of Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, and soon they filed a new lawsuit using the video of our quarrel as evidence. What made me want to cry was that the British District Court was very efficient and ruled that I lost the case a week later and needed to pay the Wilsons 600 pounds.
   I am very puzzled. What is wrong with the British? Such a simple matter between neighbors can be solved through communication. Why do they choose to litigate? Out of curiosity, I asked my British colleague Betty. As far as I know, she has filed three lawsuits with her neighbors in the past two years, all over trivial matters.
   Betty explained: “The reason why I filed a lawsuit is to protect my rights on the one hand, and more importantly, most British people are not good at talking. Instead of trying to explain it, I might as well leave it to the lawyers to solve it.” Betty’s words reminded me After living in the UK for so long, I found that most of them are really not very good at handling interpersonal relationships. Things that can be solved through simple communication sometimes have to be communicated through a third party.
   They say it’s better to look up than to see you down. Now that I have become neighbors with the Wilsons, I still want to repair our relationship with them. Through friends, I got in touch with Mr. and Mrs. Wilson’s son, Elbert. Albert had been to China and heard that I was from China, so we had a common topic.
   Elbert told me that the reason why my parents were wary of me was because the previous renter was a Korean couple. They were very unhappy because of some trivial matters. Due to the language barrier, my parents had to sue the Korean couple through litigation. left here.
   Under Elbert’s persuasion, the Wilsons and I settled our differences. I invited their family over for hot pot on the weekend, and the Wilsons were happy to make a video and post it online to show off. Later, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson introduced me to several of their friends, and my social circle expanded. However, the good times did not last long. Since Elbert had to go to Germany to work again, the Wilsons planned to sell the house. I really like the Wilsons’ house, but the price is too high and we can’t afford it.
   Half a month later, I met my new neighbors, the Dietrich family. I took the initiative to come to visit, but they wouldn’t even let me in. After several unsuccessful attempts, I discovered that the Dietrichs were difficult to get along with. I comforted myself that I could just live my life well, and as long as I didn’t provoke them, they couldn’t do anything to me. However, I was too wishful thinking, and soon I received a lawyer’s letter from Dietrich. The reason was that there was a problem with the location of my trash can and the lingering smell of paint.
   Facing another lawyer’s letter, I was a little upset. My colleague Betty comforted me when I heard about my experience, saying that outdoor bins were a source of heated neighborhood disputes, with more than one in five households having disputes with neighbors over bins or garbage collection in the past year. Of those, 23 per cent were over rubbish being left outside, and 22 per cent were over neighbors putting the wrong type of rubbish in another person’s bin.
   I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Such a small matter can be solved in a few words. It is a waste of time and money to have to litigate! Betty said that the British are not good at words. If there is a problem with communication, it will complicate the matter. With the idea that one problem is worse than one problem less, they would rather leave the matter to a lawyer to solve it. In addition, the court will deal with such minor neighborhood disputes immediately, so they are even more enthusiastic about it.
   As Betty expected, 12 days later, I received the court’s judgment, which ordered me to dispose of the trash bin and compensate Dietrich 200 pounds.
  Take up legal weapons to protect yourself
   Fortunately, half a year later I saw the news that Dietrich’s house was listed for sale online. When I inquired about it, it turned out that the man of the house was going to Spain for work. The person who bought the house was a Hebrew man named Abraham. I had seen him on the stock exchange and knew him.
   I cooked some delicacies over the weekend and invited Abraham to come over to taste them, and Abraham came happily. During the meal, I took the initiative to talk about the lawsuit with Dietrich. Abraham laughed and said that he was not such a stingy person and that everyone could bring up anything in the future.
   In the next two years, because Abraham often traveled on business, we didn’t have many opportunities to meet each other, and things were relatively peaceful among the neighbors. Just when I thought I had finally found a good neighbor, something shocking happened.
   The trees in my garden are growing taller and taller, the tallest reaching 47 feet (over 14 meters). Abraham said the trees were so close to his home that they made life miserable for him and his family. Because the tree trunk towered over his house, it was not only dangerous, but also blocked the light from reaching his kitchen and bedroom. In addition, the trees also affected the solar panels he installed on the roof, reducing solar energy production by 20%.
   In response to Abraham’s complaints, I insisted that the trees protected his home’s privacy and reduced noise from nearby railroads and highways. I thought I had convinced Abraham, but what I didn’t expect was that he actually asked the community for help, hoping to cut down these trees in accordance with the law.
   Abraham also wrote to his local council saying there was no afternoon sun in his garden and no summer sun in his kitchen and bedroom. Council staff soon arrived to investigate the situation and I explained: “Our trees can be considered part of the grove. They are good for our privacy and reduce noise, they freshen the air and beautify our gardens.” .”
   I went to Abraham and begged him to keep the trees. Who knew he wouldn’t listen at all and even kicked me out. Two days later, I received the indictment. Abraham sued me based on “high hedge” laws.
   Britain’s “high hedge” laws allow councils to resolve disputes between neighbors over “high hedges” on their borders. A “tall hedge” is defined as one consisting of two or more trees that are evergreen or semi-evergreen, at least 2 meters high and capable of blocking light.
   Facing Abraham’s prosecution, I also consulted a lawyer. The lawyer told me that it does not mean that the height of the hedge exceeds 2 meters, which is illegal. The British legislation does not set the specific height of the hedge. The parliament can generally only issue a “remedial notice”, ordering me to lower the hedge to a level that can solve the problem. problem and prevent it from happening again.
   I posted my experience online, and it quickly aroused a huge response. Someone said: “Few of us need privacy ‘nearly 50 feet high’.” Someone mentioned their experience: “The thing about trees is that they grow, and they keep growing. Owners who have large trees in their gardens forget They are legally responsible for the management of the tree (and financially responsible if anything goes wrong), which means keeping it to a reasonable size. I have a neighbor who has a huge tree with branches that extend to include Six gardens including his own. His theory has always been ‘if you live near a golf course, you’ll have golf balls in your garden’. That’s true, but the balls don’t get bigger every year.”
   Looking at the various comments from netizens, I never thought that a tree could cause such a big response. I checked online and found that the reason why everyone resonates is because there are too many neighborhood disputes caused by trees. Sometimes both parties will debate in the community in order to prove their points.
   To my surprise, this time the court did not support Abraham’s lawsuit and ruled that I did not need to take measures against the trees. The lawsuit was not supported. Abraham was a little angry and threatened to sue me again. Before Abraham sued again, I caught his clue: in the past three years, he had sued his neighbors six times, and there was suspicion of malicious litigation, which meant that he might profit from suing. .
   Sure enough, after I threw my trump card, Abraham disappeared. It was not until three months later that I found out about him. He wanted to sell the house. This time, I bought the house without hesitation.
   I have been sued by my neighbors over the years, and I have suffered repeated defeats. Here, I would like to remind everyone that whether you are renting or buying a house in the UK, neighborhood relations should be an important reference factor. Talk to the surrounding residents to see if everyone’s neighborhood relations are harmonious. You can also visit them on the spot. , to see if there is a problem. Of course, don’t be nervous if you encounter neighbor disputes, try to resolve the problem through communication, and if necessary, you can also take up legal weapons to protect yourself.

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