Nightmare neighbours cost Brits £157m a year

What's the problem? And what can you do about it?

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Neighbours in their gardens --- Image by ? Royalty-Free/Corbis Beginnings; Chair; Contrasts; Fence; Furniture; Gardening; Lawn;

New research has revealed that a shocking one in ten people will need to make a claim on their home insurance policy at some point because of something their neighbours have done. This adds £50 a year to a typical premium.

From poorly maintained gardens to neglected properties - how are they damaging properties - and how can you protect yourself?

The research, from moneysupermarket, asked people what they had claimed for in the past, and what they expected would lead to a claim in future. It found that the most common reason for neighbour-related claims were property damage from unruly gardens and overgrown trees (29%).

Of those who had claimed already, "lack of upkeep" of the house next door led to 26% of claims. This includes things like leaving guttering clogged and not repairing loose roof tiles. Meanwhile, 22% had to claim because of gas leak or burst pipe problems on a neighbours' property.

Even when you move out, these neighbours could cost you dear - because 12% of people said they will have a major impact when it comes to selling or renting out their property. Two fifths say their neighbours' house looks unsightly, with another 38% saying rubbish is left in clear view, and for 37% worry about their neighbours' antisocial behaviour, including parties and loud music.

What can you do?

The British 'stiff upper lip' still hampers some, with 43% saying they would leave it a few weeks to see if the problem solved itself, and 12% saying they would do nothing and just put up with their unruly neighbours.

However, you can take steps to try to stop the problem. The first is usually to try to talk about problems nicely to your neighbours - a third of people tend to do this as soon as the problem arises. Kevin Pratt, insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket.com, said: "When attempting to deal with your annoying neighbours, it's crucial to keep your cool and not lose your temper. Having an informal chat with your neighbour and outlining the problem can often be the best solution."

If they are tenants you should also contact their landlord - who may have included a clause in their contract to prevent their bad behaviour.

If you cannot solve the problems between you, it's worth getting in touch with the council to see if they will intervene. This is particularly the case with problems such as noise - which the council will monitor and act on if they deem it to be serious enough.

After that, you can take legal action. Unfortunately this can be an expensive business, so should only be a last resort, and it's important to talk it through with an expert before you do anything - you can either pay for a meeting with a lawyer or visit your local Citizen's Advice Bureau.

In some cases, before you go down this road - which can cost you a great deal and leave you on terrible terms with close neighbours - you might want to consider whether you would be better off moving. It might stick in your craw, but disputes with neighbours can be highly stressful, and sometimes it's better to walk away before it has a chance to ruin your quality of life.