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My neighbour damaged my property

My neighbour damaged my property

Your neighbour’s kid accidentally smashed your window with a cricket ball. Your neighbour’s tree’s roots have cracked your garden path. Your neighbour’s tree fell over during a storm and crushed your fence. What now? What happens insurance-wise when your neighbour is behind the damage caused to your property? Let’s find out…

Chris King
From the Home team
minute read
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Posted 9 JANUARY 2020

Can my neighbour be held liable for damage caused to my property?

That depends entirely on the circumstances. You may immediately think that if it wasn’t your fault, it isn’t your problem. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Start by talking to your neighbour and asking them to check if their insurance will cover the damage. They will need to lodge a claim with their insurance provider.

If you’re submitting a claim to your neighbour’s home insurance provider, you’ll need to prove that the damage was, in fact, their fault. Doing so isn’t always easy unless you’re able to provide hard evidence.

There’s also a chance that even if the damage caused was your neighbour’s fault, if it was due to poor maintenance or negligence on their part, their insurance provider may refuse to accept the claim. This means that your neighbour will have to pay out of their own pocket to have the damage repaired, and some people will do everything in their power to shirk this responsibility.

If they refuse or don’t have insurance, you’ll need to raise the matter with your insurance provider (you’ll need to tell them about the problem anyway). It may be that they settle the claim, then recover their costs from the neighbour or their insurance provider.

What if I can’t prove that the damage was my neighbour’s fault?

You can still try your luck and submit a claim to your neighbour’s home insurance provider, but if it gets rejected, you’ll have to negotiate with your neighbour directly.

What if my neighbour won’t foot the bill?

If your neighbour makes excuses or refuses to pay for the damage caused, your only available course of action will be to make a claim with your own home insurance provider, or to take your neighbour to court – which can be a costly, and turbulent, exercise.

In these instances, it’s worth considering the difference in price between solicitor’s fees and repairing the damage yourself. If it’s going to cost you substantially more to take your neighbour to court than it will to repair the damage, it may be in your best interests to pay for the repairs out of your own pocket. If the damage is extensive, then seeking legal advice is more likely your best bet.

A qualified solicitor will be able to advise you in terms of your chances of winning the case, and whether or not it will be worthwhile from a financial perspective to proceed.

I have legal expenses cover included in my home insurance policy. Will it cover me?

Yes. If you took out legal expenses cover as an optional extra with your home insurance policy, then you’re in luck. Chances are you probably won’t have to pay a penny towards taking your neighbour to court. Most policies with legal expenses cover will provide cover for property disputes of this nature – just be sure to check your policy documents for clarification before starting any procedures.

How do I prevent future property disputes with my neighbour?

If you notice the potential for future damage to your property through something that’s the responsibility of your neighbour – such as a tree that’s starting to look worryingly unsteady or a leaking roof or pipe – it’s smart to act and notify your neighbour quickly.

It’s a good idea to do this is writing, so you have evidence of having spoken to them about it before any damage takes place. If they choose not to act on your warning and your home is affected negatively as a result, you can include your written notification when submitting an insurance claim.

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