Selling a home is a stressful experience, but it can feel completely overwhelming if you have nuisance neighbours. It may even be that the people next door are the reason you're looking to move house.
There are a number of things neighbours might do that make you desperate to move. Maybe your next door neighbours are noisy into the night, or you have a long standing dispute over the border of your garden. Maybe your neighbour doesn't dispose of their garbage probably, or has let their land or building deteriorate.
But, will these things have an impact on your home's attractiveness to a potential buyer? Will they mean you'll end up selling your property for less than its true value?
Below we outline what you can expect when selling a home next door to nightmare neighbours - along with some of your rights and obligations.
Unfortunately, this really depends on the problem and how difficult it is to deal with. Buyers might be keen to ask for a discount on your property if it looks like your neighbour dispute will require a lot of time, effort, or cost to rectify. For example, if it looks like they will need legal help, potential buyers might want this cost to be taken into account when they put in an offer.
Something you may also want to consider is: curb appeal. Having an attractive first impression is vital to achieving the full value for your house. Regardless of the effort you put into how your property looks, you can't control the impression that an inconsiderate neighbour makes. This can be incredibly difficult if your neighbour doesn't take care over the appearance of their house, for example if they are careless about disposing of waste. Things like this might make a buyer more reluctant to view your home, or even put them off making an offer.
In these cases it might be best to try and discuss the issue with your neighbour. You could try first with a casual conversation. Perhaps a way to try initiating this would be to let them know that you will have people viewing the property soon. However, if this sort of confrontation makes you feel uncomfortable, you may want to use a professional mediator.
However if your disagreement with your neighbours is something like trespassing pets, it's likely that this won't impact the value of your property dramatically. The annoyance of these types of things are quite subjective. Where one person might care greatly about their garden, another might have a dog themselves and be used to one or two holes in their lawn.
Your estate agent will be able to provide guidance on the sort of impact your nuisance neighbours are likely to have on selling your home. If they think that the issue will make buyers reluctant to purchase your property, they might suggest marketing your house at a discount to make it more attractive. Pricing your property lower than other similar properties on the market will make it look like a competitive deal; hopefully one that's too good to miss.
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If you’re having real issues with your neighbours, you will need to declare it during the sales process. You will usually do this formally once an offer has been made, and your legal representative begins to negotiate the details of the property sale with your buyer's conveyancer.
As part of this conveyancing process you'll need to complete a 'Property Information Form' - also known as the TA6 form. The questions on this form are designed to collect information about all the details and features of your home. Section 2 of the Property Information Form focuses on disputes. In this section you'll have to provide in writing the details about any problems with your neighbours. These questions refer to both past and present issues - and any things that you think might come up in the future.
On this form you should include all the times you’ve had to involve a third party (such as the council or a mediator). You should also include any information on disputes over material aspects of your house. These are things like arguments over where the border of your land is, or purposeful obstructions of access.
If there are problems from a few years ago that are no longer an issue, these will also need to be included. But, don't worry, historic issues that are no longer relevant don't tend to have too much of an impact on house sales. Potential buyers usually take a relaxed view of these older issues.
It's useful to remember that you don't have to list every occasion that your neighbour has been a nuisance - only those of material significance, or occasions that involved a third party. This is because some forms of 'nuisance' are subjective. For example noisy neighbours might be less of a problem to young professionals. You don't need to talk about these things on the TA6 form unless the problem has been so bad that you've had to call the council or the police.
Saying this, it's important to be honest and accurate to the best of your ability. If there are issues that you're aware of, but don't tell the buyer about, you could face legal action in the future. If the issue comes up, you could end up being sued and having to pay 'damages' to the buyer, even years later.
If you're unsure if something counts as a proper 'dispute' rather than just a 'nuisance', the best thing to do is to get advice from your conveyancer. They will be able to offer guidance on what information to include (or not include, and whether it's likely to impact your house sale. If you'd like more than one opinion, you can also get advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Whether an estate agent has to disclose neighbour problems to potential buyers depends on the nature of the problem. If an agent has been told about a neighbour dispute which could materially impact the new owner they will be legally obliged to tell a buyer if they are asked. These are things like a border dispute, or any occasion that involved the council or police.
An estate agent might also feel ethically obliged to talk to buyers about other issues they are aware of if they think appropriate. For example, if a neighbour has been known to be rude or abusive, an estate agent might want to warn potential buyers - particularly those with young children.
When you are selling you should always be honest and straightforward with a buyer. This will prevent legal problems that could arise in the future, or even your sale falling through, if the issue comes out.
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Yes, often it's still possible to sell your house, even if you've got the worst neighbours.
You'll likely find it easier to sell your property, if there aren't many other similar houses on the market and demand for the area is high. For example, if your home is near a good school or transport links, these features might overrule a buyer's reservations about putting in an offer.
If there isn't a high demand for homes in your area, you might find it more difficult to sell a property with nuisance neighbours. But, it will depend on what the issue is.
Some problems are pretty subjective - like noise or pets. On the other hand, if there is a long-standing debate over who owns a certain patch of land this can be more off putting. This sort of issue materially affects the buyer and can be difficult to sort out. This can make a buyer more reluctant to put in an offer - and if they do, you might not get the full asking price.
If you're dealing with a major issue that you worry will impact how much you'll be able to sell for, you may want to begin formal steps to resolution. This can help to allay any buyer worries. There are a few steps that your estate agent or conveyancer may suggest that could improve your chances. One of these is mediation.
If you've already tried to talk to the people next door without any luck, a formal mediator can intervene to help you come to a resolution. They are trained to find compromise in even the most difficult situations - and hopefully come to an agreement that will please both you and your neighbour. (Or at least resolve the issue enough to please a potential buyer.)
If you choose to go ahead with mediation, you can find a mediator in your area through the government website. Or you can search for a mediator with specific property expertise through the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. They have a designated Disputes Helpline to provide you access to a tailored response to your situation.
Mediation services generally start at around £500, but can cost up to £3,000. Prices will depend upon the complexity of the issue, and the service provider. Mediation is voluntary, and the cost of hiring a formal mediator is split between you and your neighbour. This does mean that they will have to cooperate with the process in order for you to have any success.
If you don't think mediation like this will help, you may want to consider legal action. In many cases receiving a letter from a solicitor encourages people to come to a resolution. But, in some cases, the letter is ignored.
At this point you'll have to decide whether to pursue legal action and court proceedings. These can be costly and long-winded. Not only might they delay your sale, but you may end up losing more money than if you chose to sell your house for a discount. Legal action just before a house move should be considered as a last resort.
If you're unsure of the best option for you, ask your conveyancer for their advice. They will be able to provide guidance of best actions to take in your specific circumstances, and talk to you about any legal issues that may arise.
For more advice on how to pick the right conveyancer, check out our handy guide, here.
If you've sold your property and think that you've lost money because of your neighbours, you might be wondering whether you can get compensation for this loss.
If you've got to the point where you're considering suing your neighbours, it's likely that this is a last resort, and the amount you've had to accept to sell your property is significantly lower than its potential value.
If this is the case, it is possible to sue for damages. But, it will require a large amount of evidence that you received less than the true value of your house explicitly because of the actions of your neighbours. Moreover, you'll need to prove that you have made significant efforts to resolve the disputes before you attempt to sue.
This can be difficult as it will involve your buyer providing a testimony declaring that they paid less for your property because of the neighbours. This can put them in a very difficult position - particularly if they intend to live next door for a long time.
Additionally you will need to provide records of your neighbours actions along with the way you tried to resolve the dispute. This could be a record of letters or phone call conversations over the years, or could be evidence of formal third party mediation.
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