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How to Settle Neighbour DisputesIs your neighbour guilty of blasting music into the early hours of the morning or late into the night?  Did your neighbour put up a fence without your authorization and is now asking you to pay for half the cost?  Does your neighbour shout obscenities upon seeing you or your family?  Has your neighbour damaged your property?

If you answered yes to one of more of these questions, then chances are you are in the throws of a nasty neighbour dispute.  Do not worry though, there are steps you can take to resolve the dispute at hand.

Resolve the Matter with your Neighbour Directly

The first thing you should try to do is to speak to your neighbour directly to understand the reasons behind their actions, and to attempt to reach a suitable compromise.  Perhaps your neighbour is not aware that their actions are causing you so much distress.

It is important that you do not engage in arguments with your neighbour and remember to speak calmly.  It is equally important that you do not threaten or become aggressive towards your neighbour.

Ensure that you keep written records of any conversations you have with your neighbour including the date of your conversation, who was involved in the conversation, and the contents of those conversations.  If you feel threatened while speaking to your neighbour in any way, you should contact the police.

Nevertheless, it may be that your relationship with your neighbour has completely broken down and deteriorate far beyond the point of no return.  Maybe speaking one on one is not getting you anywhere.

Mediation

No doubt, tensions and emotions can run incredibly high in a neighbor dispute.  Neighbor disputes can often lead to long-term or permanent feuds.  Luckily, such an outcome can easily be averted.

Mediation offers powerful legal tools to help resolve a neighbor dispute. Mediation is when an impartial, trained, and accredited person, called a mediator facilitates a resolution between the parties.  Having a neutral third party is invaluable and much less expensive than hiring a lawyer and taking legal action.  The process is also much quicker.  The cost of mediation is a shared expense between both parties whereas when both parties hire a lawyer, they must both pay their lawyers separately.  Most importantly, mediation can lead to a resolution that a judge may not even have the power to grant. 

During mediation, you and your neighbour will have the chance to explain the issues underlying the conflict to the mediator; you may be asked to prepare a mediation brief and submit any supporting documents.  The mediator will guide both of you towards reaching a resolution that is acceptable to both parties.  The mediator will clarify and reframe the issues and will help the two sides talk to each other and discuss all possible solutions.  The mediator does not decide the merits of either party's claim or make a decision for the parties.  The mediator's goal is to identify the interests of each party and work with them to arrive at a win-win solution.  For this reason, it is important that both parties enter mediation in good faith with a view to being reasonable and compromising, to effectively reach a resolution.

Once a mutually acceptable solution has been decided upon, both parties will enter into a written agreement.  This document is legally binding and must be adhered to by both parties.

Mediation works.  Parties like to make their own decision and not feel like the outcome is decided by a complete stranger.  The parties are entirely responsible for the outcome they would like to see.  Compromise, of course is a must if you are to resolve the matter.  It is a give and take.

With mediation, it is a win-win for both parties since they have decided on their own outcome.  Both parties tend to walk away feeling good about things and ready to move on.

Blog posts are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.


Written by Marian Grande, Mediator
JUNE 7 2020

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