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    Selling Your Home Amid Neighbour Disputes

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 28th May, 2024

    Reviewed by Em Smith

    What is a property seller’s responsibility when it comes to declaring neighbourly disputes?

    Selling Your Home Amid Neighbour Disputes
    Everybody needs good neighbours. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. 
     
    When it comes to selling your home, it is important to inform would-be buyers of any neighbourly disputes that have involved official bodies.

    If you don’t, you leave yourself open to being sued by the buyers’ years down the line.

    The guidelines on what you must declare to prospective property buyers are a little bit murky; there have been examples in the past where buyers of a home have been sued by the previous owners for not warning them about especially awful neighbours, in a case of property misrepresentation. 
     
    With this in mind, it’s wise to be aware of the law and what your obligations are.  

    Declaring a dispute

    If you have been unfortunate enough to have had an actual dispute with a problem neighbour, you will have to declare this.  

    Where do you declare a dispute with a neighbour?

    You will have to make reference to a dispute with a neighbour on the form your solicitor sends you – known as a Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF).

    What has to be disclosed in the property information form?

    It is left open to interpretation as to what counts as a dispute and what doesn’t.

    Generally speaking, if you’ve contacted your neighbour in writing, or made a complaint to the council or another authority regarding their conduct, you will have to declare this.

    Common types of disputes

    The most common types of disputes that would need to be declared on the SPIF are anything that involves shared house maintenance (this is usually to do with repairs to shared facilities like drains or gutters) or boundary disputes (disputes involving land or fence/hedges).
     
    It’s also important to remember that action can be taken by buyers for years after the sale of your property has gone through. 
     
    So, even once you’ve moved out, the problem could come back to bite you if you’re not upfront and honest with buyers from the start.
     
    On the other side of the coin, there are issues that you needn’t mention. For instance, you might have a neighbour who was once a regular holder of noisy, raucous parties, but this is now no longer a problem.
     
    In this case, your buyer would not need to be informed. Similarly, if an issue has been dealt with amicably between you and your neighbour, there is no need to mention this to prospective buyers. 
     
    Other issues such as noise, children and pets tend to be very subjective – so, just because you’ve been driven crazy by the neighbour’s dog barking, doesn’t mean your buyers (who may have pets themselves) will think the same. In other words, you are under no obligation to inform would-be buyers of things like this. 

    It’s best to check with your solicitor or estate agent if you are unsure about any of this, what constitutes a dispute and what, if anything, you need to declare. 
     
    The SPIF is a legal part of the contract between you and your buyer, so it’s important to get this right to prevent any issues occurring at a later date. 

    Warring neighbours 

    Neighbourly disputes, when they do occur, can be very colourful and newsworthy.  
     
    Many people will have heard the story of Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring, the eccentric property developer who painted her plush Kensington home in red and white stripes just to irritate her neighbours who objected to her planning applications.

    The dispute with her neighbours, who labelled the property as an eyesore, went back and forth to the high court and magistrates’ court several times.
     
    Super-rich neighbours are also increasingly at war over new basements being dug, as well as things such as noisy leaf-blowing or even an opera festival being staged! 

    The likelihood of disputes with neighbours remains very low, and it’s very unlikely that you’ll be taking anyone to court over a stripy coloured home, but if any issues do arise it’s vital that you go through the proper channels and declare it to the buyers of your property. 
     
    It could cost you much more in the long-term if you don’t.

    Selling a house with a neighbour dispute FAQs

    What to do if problem neighbours were not disclosed to you?

    It will depend on if the problem was known about and if it can be proven that the seller knew but did not disclose the dispute.

    If the problem is something that the seller had previously complained to the council about or delivered a written complain to the neighbour, then it could be argued that the seller did not disclose a neighbour dispute and you could sue the seller for misrepresentation.

    How do I find out about a neighbour's dispute when buying a house?

    When purchasing a property, check The Property Information Form (TA6) for any disclosed information about disputes between the seller and the neighbours. This can include any written correspondence with a neighbour, boundary disputes, or complaints to council or authorities about a neighbour.

    What happens if you don't declare neighbour disputes when selling?

    It is your legal obligation as a seller to disclose any disputes with neighbours. If you do not disclose them, the buyer could make a claim against you for misrepresenting the property.

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