How to resolve a neighbourhood dispute

Talking to your neighbour can help you to resolve problems before they become too serious.

two neighbours talking happily in Victoria

We all have the right to use and enjoy our property as we please as long as we follow the law and respect other people’s property. This applies to tenants as well as property owners.

Sometimes an issue will arise between neighbours. Whatever the problem, in most cases your best option is to try to resolve it by talking with your neighbour and sorting it out in a friendly and informal way. This approach is most likely to result in the best solution for you both.

Tips for talking to your neighbour

When talking with your neighbour, consider your neighbour’s point of view and accommodate any differences, such as your background, working hours or stage of life. Always keep your conversations informal and friendly and focus on the problem you want to resolve.

Making a formal complaint to your local council

If talking with your neighbour does not fix the problem, perhaps try free mediation services offered by the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria.

If this still does not resolve your dispute, you could consider making a formal complaint to your local council. Your local council website provides useful information on how to make formal complaints about a range of neighbourhood issues and about how your council can respond to them.

Seeking legal advice and taking legal action

If talking with your neighbour, mediation and council action have not resolved your neighbourhood dispute, you could consider getting legal advice to see if you have a case that you could pursue in the courts.

But remember that taking legal action is often uncertain, costly and time consuming, and is likely to permanently damage your relationship with your neighbour. It is almost always a last resort.

See our legal help section for where you can get legal advice.

This page relates to laws in Victoria, Australia. Accurate at March 2015.

Woman on phone sitting at table in Victoria
Find services that can help you with neighbourhood issues and disputes in Victoria.
This page was last updated on March 03, 2016