Dan Zakis interviewed on BBC WM

On 23rd July, Dan Zakis was interviewed by Danny Kelly, a DJ on a radio talk-show for BBC WM.

You can listen to the interview (from 23 minutes in) until the end of July here

The telephone interview was on the thorny topic of neighbour disputes.

Hereís Dannyís introduction:

Itís all to do with neighbourly disputes. Things like bad parking. Itís to do with the new story today with an overgrowing hedge that ended up in court.

This is Daniel Zakis; heís from the good people of Wallace Robinson & Morgan solicitors, just down the road in Solihull and Dorridge. Hereís Dan.

And a transcript of the interview:

Dan Zakis: Itís an all too common problem. We see it a lot, with as you mentioned earlier, parking disputes, disputes over hedges and all sorts of things about boundary disputes. We get a few enquiries a week about this kind of problem.

Danny Kelly: Now a boundary dispute, thatís interesting. That could be, for example, if a leylandii; for example a bush or tree is actually going into their property. And thatís very sensitive isnít it?

Dan Zakis: Yes, that can be a very sensitive issue. People are very protective about these plants and bushes that theyíve had for a long time, and emotions can run high as that case demonstrated. You have to be very careful before taking any action. We always try and tell our clients to try and speak to your neighbour first, if you can try and come to a solution without involving a solicitor. Thatís the best possible way to proceed.

Danny Kelly: Yes, because thatís one hell of an escalation isnít it; receiving a solicitorís letter?

Dan Zakis: Well yes, I think people think itís the right thing to do, but unfortunately sometimes it can get peoples backs up and be seen to be aggressive. And that first step of getting a solicitor involved probably decreases the chances of settling it, rather than having a face to face conversation.

Danny Kelly: Yeah, I think that would be fairly terminal. If I was to receive a letter from a solicitor instigated by my next door neighbour over something like a bush, or a tree, or a branch or maybe a bit of dodgy parking. Now, once you get involved Daniel, obviously thatís a legal escalation and you write formally, if this was in Solihull or Dorridge, a hedge intruding over someoneís boundary, what would you do? Youíd write formally and maybe insert a few photographs and warn them Ė what do you do?

Dan Zakis: Well, it depends on the circumstances of the dispute. If youíre talking about a boundary dispute where you want to know whether the hedge is in the correct place then we might go out and visit the property; so weíve got an idea of what we can see on the ground. If itís just a case of somethingís over-growing then we might include photographs, and send a letter just to make the position clear. We try, when weíre dealing with it, to not make it too aggressive in the first letter. It depends on the clientís instructions and what theyíve done previously. If theyíve discussed it with their neighbours previously then we might be a little more aggressive than if this is going to be the first communication the neighbour will receive

Danny Kelly: Right, and as the opening suggested, thereís something more serious underlying; something going back in history. Itís not just this bush in this case, and the fellow with the garden hose in my opinion. This has probably been an ongoing neighbour dispute for years.

Dan Zakis: Yeah, that sounds to me like much more than a dispute about a bush. It sounds like thereís been a lot of underlying issues there. I guess the only advice you give is to not let it get that far. Like you say, try and speak to you neighbours and resolve it without it needing to go to your solicitors.

Danny Kelly: So, parking is a very common one is it, Dan?

Dan Zakis: Yes, parking is very common. You wouldnít think it would be such a controversial item, but it really is. Itís one we see more and more.

Danny Kelly: And this would be to do with shared land, for example a set of car park spaces.

Dan Zakis: Yes, it can be car park spaces, or there are a lot of properties around Birmingham that have shared driveways. You both have the right to use the other personís driveway to get to your own driveway. And you can have problems with people blocking those. Iíve had a case where one was blocked during someoneís funeral. So obviously emotions run pretty high with that one.

Danny Kelly: So someone, to make a point of it, just blocked the driveway with their car?

Dan Zakis: Well, yes.

Danny Kelly: Even though there was a through access. There was more to the drive than just his little plot, was there?

Dan Zakis: Yes, exactly.

Danny Kelly: What did you do then?

Dan Zakis: That case went to court. Taking that step; it was never something the neighbours were going to agree on. And unfortunately that ended up in court.

Danny Kelly: Daniel, have you ever heard of people putting their houses on the market because of neighbourly disputes?

Dan Zakis: Yes; that case I was just talking about, thatís what ultimately happened in the end.

Danny Kelly: Would you need to declare that? To the future [owners].

Dan Zakis: Yes. You need to be very careful, because when youíre selling your property and fill in a sellerís information form Ė on that you have to declare if youíve had any disputes with your neighbours. So, thatís another reason why you might not want to get a solicitor involved. Because in all good consciousness you could fill in the form and say you havenít had disputes. I think that probably if you had a dispute which was resolved amicably you could still fill it in and say there wasnít, but if youíve had court action I think itís a bit harder to say that.

Danny Kelly: Well Daniel, say for example there was court action. They didnít declare that in the vendorís pack. Then all of a sudden someone in good faith buys the house and then realises theyíre living next door to some belligerent Victor Meldrew, and Victorís making their life hell and all of a sudden they realise that Victorís got a bit of history in the courts with the old home owner. Can they recover the costs, and indeed get their money back for, say a £250,000 house?

Dan Zakis: It would obviously depend on the circumstances and what questions were raised, but they would certainly have a strong case if it was clear that there had been some court action, and that this hadnít been disclosed in the sellerís information form, because thereís a specific question about that. Then it would be something where you would have a claim against them. It would either be for the loss in value of the property, or if you can demonstrate to the court that you would never have purchased, knowing that, youíd have a potential claim for the purchase price.

Danny Kelly: Daniel, just off-topic, and finally, in the list of questions where you have to fill out, for example, court action with neighbours. Is there something to do with ghosts? If you believe your house is haunted, or something?

Dan Zakis: (laughs) Iím not sure about that. Iíve never heard of that before.

Danny Kelly: I thought that I remembered that from previous house purchases? But everyone laughed at me in the office; just like you did then.

Dan Zakis: Yes, itís not a very common question Iíd come across Iím afraid.

Find out more

Read our articles for more information on boundary disputes and disputes with neighbours.

Just like the advice Dan gave in his interview, theyíre full of good, sensible advice.

Did you listen in?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

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