Celebrity Neighbour Disputes

Neighbours…..you either love them or hate them! When buying your home, often you have the freedom to choose exactly where you want to live but one thing that you don’t have control over is who your neighbours are. Neighbours come in many different forms; there are those who keep themselves to themselves, perhaps just politely nodding or a quick “Good Morning” whenever you see them.
There are those “nosey neighbours” that can’t seem to stop interfering in your business. You might find them lurking behind their curtains, watching and waiting for something to happen. You might even find them knocking at your door for seemingly no reason at all. There is also the “noisey neighbour,” those that insist on playing their music at full volume at all times of the day, those that turn their TV up to full volume and shout at each other.
And lets be honest there is the indiscreetly noisy neighbour, as The Guardian recently reported on one of its help pages – “It recently became apparent that our upstairs neighbour had got a new girlfriend – from the shrieky sex noises that were audible when the window was open.”

Celebrities are not immune from such matters, they too face neighbourly disputes, often with hefty consequences. In many cases it is the celebrities themselves that are the offenders in disputes and more often than not they end up being sued by their neighbours. Here are a few examples:
In 2009, Leonardo Di Caprio was sued by his neighbour over a dispute over a basketball court that he had built at his home. His neighbours claimed that the building work had ruined their garden and that he had trespassed on their property whilst completing the work.
In 2010, Beyonce Knowles was sued by her neighbour Philip Markowitz for disturbing his peace and quiet and allegedly blocking the entrance of his house whilst she was filming a music video. Markowiz also claimed that his work was affected by the video shoot as he missed a number of business calls whilst arguing with members of Beyonce’s crew. In the end, Markowitz and Knowles settled the dispute with Markowitz receiving a 5 figure settlement!
Sir Sean Connery was also sued by his neighbour over renovations to a shared roof at his New York home. His neighbour claimed that the renovations were of a substandard quality and that as a result of the work there were foul smells constantly entering into their home. In this case it may have been that the dispute could have been avoided through the proper use of a party wall agreement.
In 2011, Madonna had to settle a dispute with her neighbour who complained about the excessive noise coming from her apartment. Despite Madonna asking to have the suit dismissed, a judge ruled that the neighbour could claim damages. The dispute was settled outside of court for an unknown amount.
More common disputes surround building works, noisy builders and ownership of walls and land.  The Party Wall Act can help where certain building works are undertaken and will need noticed to be given and an agreement entered into that will cover such things as ownership, noise, access and repair.  You will need a specialist party wall surveyor top help but as Steven Way a Party Wall Surveyor at Collier Stevens says “the agreement can save thousands of pounds and hours of unpleasant dispute, it is, if you like, a prenuptial agreement for building works.  A good agreement will set out exactly how any dispute will be resolved and who pays before works start, if it has been properly prepared it is also legally binding.  In one case I was involved in repair works ran to a quarter of a million pounds following a failed basement conversion and we were able to rely on the Party wall Award to resolve matters without recourse to lawyers and courts which would have taken years” .
You could of course try and avoid a neighbour dispute, the best way is to move where there are neighbours because wherever there are neighbours there are potential disputes.
Bill Weston is a content writer who writes on a number of subjects including Party Wall Agreements. You can find information about party walls and party wall surveyors at http://www.collier-stevens.co.uk/