Not only can problem neighbours cause headaches, they can also have negative implications on the value of your home if you choose to sell. When selling a property, you are legally required to complete a property information form; providing answers which are truthful to the best of your knowledge. This includes nuisance neighbours and any issues you have had with them in the past.
How problematic you consider your neighbours can be an extremely personal judgement. Whilst many will tolerate the odd party, barking dog or extra car in the cul-de-sac, others will find these unacceptable after even the first occurrence. Legally and morally it is a tricky subject to address but there are some guidelines that can help the process if you wish to sell your home.
What do I need to disclose in the property information form?
If you are planning on moving, first discover whether your issues with your neighbour need to be revealed in the property information form you provide the estate agent. You only need to disclose issues that have had a direct effect on the relationship between you and your neighbour. This may include:
- Disputes over boundary lines
- Disputes over allocated parking
- Disputes over hedge heights
Issues such as pets and loud music are subjective and not directly in relation to your property. Therefore, you do not need to make potential buyers aware.
Understandably, if there have been legal issues or police involvement between you and your neighbour, you will have to detail these in the form. Disputes that have reached this level can affect the saleability of your home and sometimes a lower asking price will need to be considered.
Try speaking to your neighbours
It is likely that your neighbours are very decent people and are simply unaware that they are causing an issue. More often than not, speaking to your neighbour openly is the most effective way to sort out any problems. How can you expect them to make a change if they are not aware of the problem?
Make sure you speak to your neighbour one-on-one as opposed to sending a letter. This can come across as too impersonal and cause friction.
Try keeping a detailed record of disturbances and issues
If discussions go well with your neighbour, brilliant. If not, it is definitely time to start making a note of all of the disturbances and issues. Include dates and times as much as possible, as this will act as evidence should anybody else need to become involved.
Taking pictures is also a good step to take so that you have visual proof. Just make sure you did not encroach on their property to do so. Also ensure that none of your photographs contain your neighbours.
Try getting in touch with the landlord (if they are tenants)
If your neighbours have ignored your conversation it could be worth getting in touch with their landlord. This could be a local estate or a private landlord – you may have to ask around to source their details.
Once you have appropriate contact details it is best to put your concerns in a letter or an email. This means that the landlord has your issues in black and white and can relay them precisely to the tenants.
Do be prepared that little may change despite a landlord’s intervention. Unless the landlord’s property is being damaged or illegal activity is taking place, in their eyes the tenants are paying their rent and deserve to live there peacefully. Equally, the landlord may disagree with you.
Try visiting your local Citizens Advice Bureau
Most towns and villages will have a Citizens Advice Bureau. This is a network of 316 independent charities, providing free and confidential information to people with all manner of problems from over 3,500 locations.
You can simply pop into your local Citizens Advice office and you will be able to talk to somebody about the issues with your neighbours. Alternatively, most offer advice over the phone too. The person you speak to will be able to point you in the right direction and help you put together a plan of action.
You can ask a mediator to help with speaking to your neighbour. Some nuisance neighbours change their ways once an impartial third party has become involved. Mediators are specifically trained to help people resolve disagreements.
Some councils and housing associations provide mediators free of charge. If this isn’t an option, you should expect to pay a fee.
Try obtaining advice from a solicitor
If things are not improving despite many conversations with your neighbours and their landlord (if they are renting) it can be time to seek legal help. Solicitors know the law inside out and will be able to advise you if you have a legitimate case – this is why a detailed record of events is needed.
Most solicitors will charge for their advice and you could be looking at significant legal costs if you choose to take things further.
Try raising a concern with the police…
101 is the police non-emergency number. If your neighbour is committing a crime or threatening you, call 999 immediately. However, call 101 for the following type of scenarios:
- Your neighbour has damaged your property
- Your neighbour is making you feel uncomfortable
- Your neighbour has a dangerous dog
- Your neighbour is involved with drugs
- Your neighbour is involved in crime
- Your neighbour has damaged your car
Do not call 101 if:
- Your neighbour lets their dog foul freely
- Your neighbour gets rid of their rubbish incorrectly
- Your neighbour has vandalised public property
In these type of circumstances you should contact your local council to resolve the problem.
With the more serious issues with your neighbours the police will be able to help and will likely visit your property to discuss the matter with you further and asses any damage.
Will I be able to sell my property?
Nuisance neighbours come on a spectrum, from the slightly annoying to the overtly dangerous. Although it can feel like an uphill struggle, finding a resolution (such as the ones above) is best before you put your property on the market.
If you don’t want to wait to sell, discuss your situation with the company you choose to sell your home with. They will have seen this before and will be able to give you advice and help you successfully sell your home. Just make sure to fill in the property information form truthfully.