Talk to your neigh­bours about is­sues

Tow­ing an of­fend­ing ve­hi­cle or start­ing le­gal ac­tion is not the best way to re­solve dis­putes with your neigh­bours, says.

Papakura Courier - - FRONT PAGE -

I’ve been liv­ing at my cur­rent ad­dress for al­most a year. Sea­sons have come and gone, but so too has an en­tire cor­ner of my shared drive­way thanks to my neigh­bour’s ob­nox­iously over­sized 4x4.

My com­plaint isn’t an anom­aly. As more and more houses are squeezed onto smaller plots of land, more and more peo­ple are be­com­ing sub­ject to the phe­nom­e­non of the ‘‘Shared Drive­way’’.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, we don’t give our drive­ways a se­cond thought. But as our liv­ing prox­im­i­ties be­come closer, it’s im­por­tant to con­sider those who use your drive­way, es­pe­cially when it comes to ac­cess­ing prop­erty.

Every­one has the right to ac­cess their home un­ob­structed – it re­ally is that black and white. But how other peo­ple use your shared drive­way, and how their use im­pacts yours, can be­come a bit grey. If you live down a shared drive­way or in a sub­di­vi­sion where many prop­er­ties share the same ac­cess lot, the Prop­erty Law Act 2007 gives you some im­plied and le­gal rights, par­tic­u­larly around ac­cess. That means if your neigh­bour parks their car in a way that im­pedes your ac­cess, they may be in breach.

So what should you do if you have is­sues with your shared drive­way? First things first: talk to your neigh­bour and try to work the prob­lem out am­i­ca­bly. Remember, you might be able to tow a car, but you can’t get rid of a neigh­bour (or neg­a­tive af­ter­shocks) as eas­ily. Al­ways try to ap­proach your neigh­bour per­son­ally, out­line your prob­lems, sug­gest some so­lu­tions, and be pre­pared for a re­but­tal from the other side of the ar­gu­ment – be­cause you might not ac­tu­ally be right.

Speak­ing of which, tow­ing might seem like an easy fix but it could ac­tu­ally cause more harm than good. If a car is parked on council land but is block­ing your drive­way, you can ask the council to tow it. How­ever, if a car is parked on your shared drive­way, tow­ing it will not only ex­ac­er­bate the sit­u­a­tion, your neigh­bour could also make a claim against you for tres­pass­ing on their prop­erty.

If you’re a ten­ant and you’d rather not deal with the prob­lem your­self, ask your land­lord or prop­erty man­ager for help. Like­wise, if you live in an apart­ment com­plex, com­plain to the body cor­po­rate. If civil ne­go­ti­a­tions go pear-shaped and you need more support, try me­di­a­tion or seek le­gal ad­vice. Both op­tions cost money so you’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons, but me­di­a­tion can help neigh­bours re­solve dis­putes am­i­ca­bly. Tak­ing the is­sue fur­ther will prob­a­bly cost a lot and ruin any friendly re­la­tions you might still have with your neigh­bour.

Shared drive­way is­sues usu­ally turn out to be non-events if neigh­bours are com­fort­able talk­ing to each other in the first place. The abil­ity to have friendly and open con­ver­sa­tions means that should an is­sue crop up, you don’t in­stantly re­spond de­fen­sively. If you haven’t met your neigh­bours yet, pluck up the courage and stop them next time you see them over the fence or start a con­ver­sa­tion with them on Neigh­bourly .

First things first: talk to your neigh­bour and try to work the prob­lem out am­i­ca­bly and don’t get an­gry.

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