Could a Tiff with the Folks Next Door Interfere With Your Sale?
Come on, admit it, we’re all tempted to lose our cool with our neighbours sometimes. Whether it’s prompted by loud music, smelly cooking, questionable wheely bin placement or infuriating parking habits… it’s not always easy to keep the peace.
This is especially likely to be true when behaviour gets really antisocial. After all, it may be possible to take a big breath and be the bigger person if there’s a fracas over the occasional rowdy party, but if the folks next door start disputing where the property line falls, it’s likely to become an issue you can’t ignore.
Unfortunately, a neighbour dispute can turn into something of a catch-22. If things get to the point of no return, you might decide there’s nothing for it but to sell up and move on in search of more reasonable neighbours. The problem is… the very fact of having had neighbour-related issues may make you home harder to sell.
Hang on… what’s that?!
We hear you. There’s (probably) nothing worse than having to deal with your neighbour’s nonsense than having to deal with it with the unhappy knowledge that you’re stuck with it.
What many people don’t realise is that you’re legally obligated to disclose any neighbour disputes during the sale of your house. So, yes: you’ll have to tell your buyers if you’ve called the council noise control team about the arguing couple next door. You’ll also have to tell them if there’s been any police involvement, professional mediation or solicitor support.
Like most things in the legal sphere, all this is open to interpretation by legal professionals, and it may be the case that in your situation you won’t have to spill the beans, especially if the dispute in question is relatively minor and hasn’t involved any third parties.
This might be the category you fall into if you’ve fallen foul of extra-marital activity or simply a general personality clash. In other words, you won’t necessarily have to admit it to your buyers if you’ve had a fling with the neighbour’s husband, or if you’ve had a brouhaha over whose contribution to the W.I. baking competition was a more-deserving winner. Your solicitor will be able to advise you more thoroughly on your particular situation (though they may be wary of passing judgement on the question of the baking).
Does a dispute mean you won’t be able to sell?
In short, no. Even if you’ve had to involve the police and the council and a solicitor in the whole palaver, it doesn’t necessarily mean your house will be unsellable. In all likelihood, once you’ve broken the news to your seller, they will respond in one of three ways:
- They might not be bothered
- They might come back with a lot of questions
- They might want to renegotiate on the sales price in light of the new information
To sum up, if you have a history of not-so-neighbourly behaviour to disclose, you’ll need to steel yourself for added complications during the conveyancing process. You’ll also need to be prepared to accept that any ongoing spats could have lowered the value of your property.
Can’t you just fib about it?
With all this in mind, you might be tempted to tell a lie of omission and simply skip the questions about neighbour disputes in your property information form. The problem with this is that lies of omission almost always get you into hot water in the end.
This is especially true with problem neighbours, as the neighbours in question are unlikely to stop their antisocial behaviour just because completion day has come around. Let’s put it this way, your buyers are likely to find our pretty quickly if your wall-sharing neighbour likes to blast death-metal from 1am till 3am. And – as noise complaints are public record – they would also find out fairly fast if you’ve taken action in the past but kept schtum about it during the sale.
And when the truth does out? You could well find yourself being sued, which, we’re sure you’ll agree, is no one’s idea of fun.
Is there anything you can do to avoid all this?
This is probably the sort of advice you might offer a grandmother who already knows how to suck eggs… but the best way to avoid all this is to not fall out with your neighbours in the first place!
It’s not always easy to live next door to someone else’s bad behaviour, and it’s certainly true that some neighbours will have more, ahem, ‘foibles’ than others. However, if you’re planning on selling your home in the near future, we’d recommend attempting to live and let live as much as possible despite these annoyances.
We’ll add an obvious caveat here that we would certainly not advise you to just ‘put up with’ any dangerous or illegal behaviour. In that sort of situation you’d need to get the police involved first, then talk to your solicitor later on to see if anything can be done to minimise the impact on your future sale.
Remember: honesty really is the best policy in this sort of situation!
If you’ve recently had a bust up with the neighbours and want to sell up to get away from them, don’t panic. We’re on hand to offer advice and help you through the process in the most pain-free way possible. Give us a call and we’ll see what we can do (though we’re afraid we can’t promise not to have any foibles of our own).