Lockdown brings millions of neighbours closer together

Many months of being house-bound for most people has improved relationships between neighbours, new research reveals.

More than half (52%) of Brits typically have a good relationship with their neighbours, and one in six (17%) claim they’ve grown closer to their neighbours during lockdown. That’s according to a new survey by Confused.com.

Over the past 20 weeks, many people across the country have come together to support and help each other in ways they’ve never known before. During this time, a lot of people have been literally house-bound, relying on others to carry out essential errands for them, from picking up prescriptions to carrying out a weekly shop. In fact, nearly one in four (23%) UK adults have helped a neighbour during lockdown in some way, while one in seven (14%) have received help themselves.

However, while many people have been enjoying the company of their neighbours, the facts that everyone has been spending more time at home is bound to put a strain on some neighbourly relationships. According to the research, one in six (17%) Brits felt some tension with their neighbours during lockdown. More than two in five (42%) say this evolved from lockdown rules being broken, while a further two in five (40%) say loud music created the friction.

It’s inevitable that lockdown will have sparked a few arguments, as people have had to find ways to keep themselves entertained over the past 20 weeks. Although, in some cases, there was little concern for the neighbours. According to the research, nearly one in three (31%) Brits claim their neighbours have been playing loud music during lockdown, while one in two (50%) saw their neighbours’ break lockdown rules by having family and friends visit their house. More than one in three (36%) even claim their neighbour had been breaking the two-metre social distancing rule. One in eight (12%) said their neighbour painted their fence without permission, while one in seven (15%) chopped down a tree. Under the circumstances, all these behaviours might get some people’s blood boiling. But, being the polite nation that we are, in most cases, people decided not to complain.

While confronting neighbours may seem like the best way to resolve an issue, it can in fact create more tension. A friendly knock on the door or quick word over the fence will settle matters most of the time, although it’s not uncommon for these discussions to turn very awkward. And so, knowing your rights when it comes to disputing is key to maintaining a good relationship. However, according to Confused.com’s research, not everyone knows basic neighbourly etiquette. One in 10 (9%) are confused about the law on playing loud music, while one in eight (11%) are unsure of the law around bonfires.

Knowing the confusion this is creating, Confused.com has pulled together a catch-all guide to help people settle potential neighbourly disputes. According to the expert advice, having a bonfire or BBQ lit in the back garden is legal, unless it becomes hazardous or becomes a regular nuisance, in which case it could result in a fine. And for those burdened with noisy neighbours, excessive volumes at any time of day is antisocial, meaning you should be within your rights to complain. Although it’s best to try and settle it in a friendly way before turning to the local authorities.

Confused.com’s advice also warns people of the risks of giving keys to neighbours or relatives, something that almost half (45%) of Brits currently do. In fact, nearly half (48%) of these trusting Brits have given their key to more than one person or household. But giving your key to someone else makes them responsible for keeping it safe and secure. If a burglar finds the key and uses it to access your house, you may not be able to claim on your home insurance policy.

Generally, people have good relationships with their neighbours, with one in three (34%) saying they trust the people they live next to. One in seven (14%) even socialise with their neighbours regularly. And this extends to their wider community, with more than one in four (26%) claiming they feel surrounded by good people. But not everyone has been so fortunate, as nearly one in five (18%) admit they’ve had a bad relationship with their neighbours in the past. More than one in four (27%) even claim they would be put off buying a house because of the neighbours.

Not everyone has to be best friends with their neighbours but keeping the relationship polite and friendly will make settling any disputes or disagreements a lot easier for everyone.

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