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What You Have to Declare About Neighbours When Selling

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 15 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Neighbour Problem Dispute Legal Spif

If you’ve decided to move home, whether to escape problem neighbours or not, you’ll have to own up to any issues you’ve had with the neighbours when you’re selling your home. The guidelines are slightly grey as to what you need to declare to a prospective buyer, but there have been cases where new owners have sued previous owners for not telling them about particularly awful neighbours, so it pays to be aware of the law.

Neighbourhood Disputes

If you’ve been unlucky enough to become involved in an actual dispute with Problem Neighbours, this will have to be mentioned on the form that your solicitor sends you – called a Seller’s Property Information Form (or SPIF). What constitutes a dispute is open to interpretation but in general, if you’ve had to contact a neighbour in writing, or complain to the council or another authority about them, then the dispute will have to be declared.

Obvious examples of things that need to be declared on the SPIF are Boundary Disputes (disputes involving land or fences/hedges) or anything that involves Shared House Maintenance.

Buyers could potentially take action against you for years after the sale of the property has been agreed, so don’t just assume that once you’ve moved out, the problem has gone away if you haven’t told them.

Not a Problem?

In some situations, it’s not necessary to mention an issue that’s come up with a neighbour. For example, if a neighbour had a penchant for having noisy parties but this is now in the past, or a problem has been dealt with amicably. Issues like children, noise and pets are also extremely subjective, so the Noise Of A Dog Barking may drive you insane but if the person buying the property also has dogs, it may be something they don’t even notice.

If you’re asked by a solicitor to give details of any disputes or problem neighbours, this is where the situation becomes more difficult, as any false information or ‘omitted information’ could lead to legal action being taken by buyers. So seek advice from your solicitor if you think that a neighbour’s behaviour could be considered problematic, and ask if they think it’s something you need to declare.

Taking Legal Action

The SPIF is legally part of the contract between you and your buyer. Because you are required by law to complete the SPIF, and because the buyer of your property is entitled to rely on the information being accurate when they buy a home, they may be able to claim against you if the sale has been completed and a problem neighbour dispute comes to life. If the contracts haven’t been exchanged when the dispute comes to light, they could pull out of the sale.

In one case in 2009, when Home Information Packs were still in force, one buyer was told by a seller that her potential new next door neighbour was 'as quiet as a mouse', and the HIPS declared that there had been no disputes with any of the neighbours.

Unfortunately, this neighbour made her life 'a living hell' with loud swearing and banging on the walls during the night. The buyer sued the seller and accused her of telling lies on the HIPS form, but lost, despite the seller admitting the neighbour in question had threatened to kill her and thrown stones at her windows in the past.

Resolve It?

If you think there's a chance you can resolve a dispute (especially when your neighbour knows you're planning to move!)...then read about how ways you can go about mediation.

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I am hoping to sell my house this year but am concerned as my neighbour appears to be spying on me. I have never really spoken to the neighbour as have only seen her once or twice but she seems to know all of my life somehow ans says thinks loudly through the wall for me to hear i.e how much I earn, how many holidays I have had plus a veiled threat to my son. I cannot prove any of this and have never made a formal complaint to her landlord but I have spoken to a police officer who advised that I should complain to the council as she is a tenant but I haven't. How much if anything would I have to declare when selling my house? I have been told by a tradesman that this would reduce the sale price by nearly a quarter. Is this true? Many thanks for any advice.
mummsa - 15-Jul-17 @ 6:06 PM
hounded - Your Question:
My neighbours have been a nightmare and has ended up with a community protection warning, we know this will need to be declared if we move, what do you think we should include in the information.

Our Response:
You solicitor will usually supply a questionnaire with specifc questions where you will need to give a Yes/No answer and then supply details. Here are examples of the questions:
Have there been any disputes or complaints regarding this property or nearby property?
Are you aware of anything that might lead to a dispute about the property or nearby property?
Have any notices or correspondence been received or sent (e.g From or to a neighbour, council or government department) or any negotiations or discussions taken place which affect the property or property nearby?
ProblemNeighbours - 27-Jun-17 @ 10:47 AM
My neighbours have been a nightmare and has ended up with a community protection warning, we know this will need to be declared if we move, what do you think we should include in the information.
hounded - 24-Jun-17 @ 4:43 PM
tomatotomato - Your Question:
Hello. I've recently bought a flat and the neighbour downstairs is a complete nightmare (noise, harassment, smell. you name it). The previous owners were here for many years, so I assume they would have complained to the council as they are a council tenant. How would I find out if they did indeed complain to the council and not declare it?Thank you.

Our Response:
Check with environmental health to see whether any noise abatement notices were issued etc. The council's housing department might also be able to give you information.
ProblemNeighbours - 9-May-17 @ 1:55 PM
Hello. I've recently bought a flat and the neighbour downstairs is a complete nightmare (noise, harassment, smell.. you name it). The previous owners were here for many years, so I assume they would have complained to the council as they are a council tenant. How would I find out if they did indeed complain to the council and not declare it? Thank you.
tomatotomato - 8-May-17 @ 11:09 AM
It's me - Your Question:
My neighbours dog nipped me while I was holding my dog. Their dog has never bit another person or dog to my knowledge and plays well with other dogs. It only seems to have taken a dislike to my pup from the moment he first saw him. I was told to report the incident as I'd been bitten. The owner now has a dog control order whereby the dog is to be kept on a short lead except in an open area where he can be on a long lead. Do I need to declare this when I sell?

Our Response:
You may need to declare this. Check with your solicitor.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-May-17 @ 2:04 PM
My neighbours dog nipped me while I was holding my dog. Their dog has never bit another person or dog to my knowledge and plays well with other dogs. It only seems to have taken a dislike to my pup from the moment he first saw him. I was told to report the incident as I'd been bitten. The owner now has a dog control order whereby the dog is to be kept on a short lead except in an open area where he can be on a long lead. Do I need to declare this when I sell?
It's me - 3-May-17 @ 8:47 PM
Hi, we are considering our 1980's terraced house and would appreciate some advice. Next to our bedroom is our neighbours teenage daughters bedroom. She is a bit strange and is up most of the night chatting to her friends. She doesn't have parties or play loud music. We can only hear her because the walls are so thin. Would we need to declare this when selling? We have never disputed this with next door as we understand it's not their fault and we can't expect their daughter not to talk in her own bedroom.Thank you
Katie78 - 28-Apr-17 @ 3:35 AM
Hello, Some teenagers quite strongly tackled my front door like 4 or 5 times in a total of 9-10 days almost two years ago. I reported it to the police several times. From that time they had done the same a handful of times but because it's each time less and less I haven't reported it anymore. They haven't done this in the last 9 months more or less. Apart from that I've seen some minor things written in one of the boards of my fence last month. I haven't reported it but it is visible anyway. Of course, I could replace the board for a new one. But it's very possible that more than one of my neighbours that live next to my house had seen it already. I don't think the teenagers live in the periphery of my house. I'd say that most of them live 7 or more minutes walking from my house (but I'm not 100% sure). What of this should I declare? Thanks
nonna99 - 21-Apr-17 @ 7:47 PM
Morning, we live in a very quiet village and next door to a farm. One of our neighbours has a hobby, in which he says he does up avionics on ex military equipment. So far he's had a nose of a plane and now a helicopter in his garden and unfortunately our living room and front door look out on to this eyesore. Not only that he has other (scrap and rusting) ex military equipment scattered around the surrounding land of his house, (which he doesn't own). We've had to put up with this for the last 4 years. We've tried talking to him but he just says "It's my hobby" as if to say "what you going to do about it? Not only that he works abroad most of the year and is only back a max of 6 weeks in a year. If we went to the council would they be able to do anything about it, as I'm concerned that the eyesore has an affect on the value of our property. Also would we have to declare it if we did go to the council, and then wanted to sell?
Lisa - 17-Apr-17 @ 9:36 AM
Jim - Your Question:
HiWe live in a 3 bed semi detached house. My neighbours wanted our oak tree in our back garden cut down about a year ago and we said no because we love it, since then we have had our 3rd child and need to up size so we have decided to sell our house and go for a new build 4 bed detached so we put it up for sale with no for sale sign but our neighbours have found out we are selling and where we're moving to by searching Rightmove and asking around.So this is the bitter and twisted part from our neighbours, they decided to wait until we went out on a Saturday, came into our front garden without our permission, erected a fence on our side of the garden in front of the hedge roots which is the boundary. We just thought what a cheak but we have sold our house subject to contract with the new buyers moving in, in 5 weeks time so just wanted to leave it without causing any fuss. Since then our neighbours have found out which estate agents we are selling our house with and contacted them saying they want to open a neighbourly dispute about the boundary where they put the fence and they will be getting a solicitor, this is all to purposely try and sabotage the sale of our property. They are not approachable at all since they didn't get their own with the tree and turn aggressive and abusive when you try to talk to them however they do usually keep them selfs to them selfs but obviously bear a bitter and twisted grudge over the tree. I wouldn't mind but the buyers of our property asked if there was a preservation order on the tree as they would have it cut down so the neighbours are cutting their nose off to spite their face.We are now worried sick that the sale of our property will fall through because of our neighbours going to a solicitor to dispute a boundary that we're not even bothered about. I have already sent all the signed paper work for the SPIF weeks ago and declared there were no disputes. If we don't apose the boundary dispute then surely there isn't a dispute? If the SPIF has already been signed and dated with the completion date then surely it's the sale completed? Are we right to be worried so much?

Our Response:
We really can't answer this one, it depends on how much investigation the prospective purchasers decide to do before finalising.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:42 PM
My neighbour's daughter has moved in (teenage) and practice drums half an hour a day between 3.30pm to 6pm. We arranged this with her father after a very amicable conversation together with the neighbours next door. We have agreed that she should practice on Tuesdays and Thursday because I am out my flat working all day. The father has even promise to me, that out of those two days, he will let me know when she is going to practice, so it doesn't get my by surprise. He is going to put new carpet as well as the one they have now is ten years old and the room next to where she practices, don't have any carpet at all and he thinks that this could help to make the noise a bit less intrusive. Over all he is trying to do as less noise as possible without having cut his daughter's hobby.I am a bit concern that in the future if I decide to move out or rent my flat I will have to declare this arrangement and this will put people of renting or buying. Any advice?
Angie - 23-Mar-17 @ 1:07 PM
Hi We live in a 3 bed semi detached house. My neighbours wanted our oak tree in our back garden cut down about a year ago and we said no because we love it, since then we have had our 3rd child and need to up size so we have decided to sell our house and go for a new build 4 bed detached so we put it up for sale with no for sale sign but our neighbours have found out we are selling and where we're moving to by searching Rightmove and asking around. So this is the bitter and twisted part from our neighbours, they decided to wait until we went out on a Saturday, came into our front garden without our permission, erected a fence on our side of the garden in front of the hedge roots which is the boundary. We just thought what a cheak but we have sold our house subject to contract with the new buyers moving in, in 5 weeks time so just wanted to leave it without causing any fuss. Since then our neighbours have found out which estate agents we are selling our house with and contacted them saying they want to open a neighbourly dispute about the boundary where they put the fence and they will be getting a solicitor, this is all to purposely try and sabotage the sale of our property. They are not approachable at all since they didn't get their own with the tree and turn aggressive and abusive when you try to talk to them however they do usually keep them selfs to them selfs but obviously bear a bitter and twisted grudge over the tree. I wouldn't mind but the buyers of our property asked if there was a preservation order on the tree as they would have it cut down so the neighbours are cutting their nose off to spite their face. We are now worried sick that the sale of our property will fall through because of our neighbours going to a solicitor to dispute a boundary that we're not even bothered about. I have already sent all the signed paper work for the SPIF weeks ago and declared there were no disputes. If we don't apose the boundary dispute then surely there isn't a dispute? If the SPIF has already been signed and dated with the completion date then surely it's the sale completed? Are we right to be worried so much?
Jim - 22-Mar-17 @ 9:52 PM
KatherineL - Your Question:
We moved into our first property 3 weeks ago, which is in a 1940s flat block. We're in a top floor flat, and have no issues with noise. My partner and I are both early twenties but are in no way disruptive, loud or bothersome. The woman (mid-30s) downstairs has complained at least once a week since we moved in about how loud our footsteps are & said "in this flat block everyone has to walk like a mouse to not disturb anyone so can you please both walk like mice", she's also complained about noise from TV and washing machine (we don't have washing machine on past 7pm).She also implied she was complaining to previous owner during his time living here about his footsteps etc. While there was never any action taken between previous owner and the complaining woman below, should this have been disclosed to us as it is casting a large black cloud over our first property.

Our Response:
It depends on whether this was recorded by any other authority etc. In general you have to declare any disputes or complaints that have been made about immediate neighbours. It's worth contacting your solicitor to find out whether they think the seller was misleading.
ProblemNeighbours - 21-Mar-17 @ 10:27 AM
We moved into our first property 3 weeks ago, which is in a 1940s flat block. We're in a top floor flat, and have no issues with noise. My partner and I are both early twenties but are in no way disruptive, loud or bothersome. The woman (mid-30s) downstairs has complained at least once a week since we moved in about how loud our footsteps are & said "in this flat block everyone has to walk like a mouse to not disturb anyone so can you please both walk like mice", she's also complained about noise from TV and washing machine (we don't have washing machine on past 7pm). She also implied she was complaining to previous owner during his time living here about his footsteps etc. While there was never any action taken between previous owner and the complaining woman below, should this have been disclosed to us as it is casting a large black cloud over our first property....
KatherineL - 18-Mar-17 @ 8:30 AM
Neighbour says guttering on our conservertory has caused damp in her lounge we have fixed guttering she wants us to pay for replastering and painting her lounge wall are we liable.we are not convinced damp was our fault as have no damp on our wall
Lol - 8-Mar-17 @ 3:45 PM
BB - Your Question:
We are looking to buy a semi detached property, but the other half of the building is home to a horder and is in a dreadful state. It is overgrown with ivy, front and back gardens full of rubbish etc. If we were to buy, what rights do we have if failure to maintain the next property affected our property. I'm guessing there would be no house insurance in place.

Our Response:
It's very difficult to force a neighbour to maintain their garden. If you feel it's a health hazard in anyway, then environmental health might be able to act, but it's a slim possibility.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Feb-17 @ 11:29 AM
We are looking to buy a semi detached property, but the other half of the building is home to a horder and is in a dreadful state.It is overgrown with ivy, front and back gardens full of rubbish etc.If we were to buy, what rights do we have if failure to maintain the next property affected our property.I'm guessing there would be no house insurance in place.
BB - 15-Feb-17 @ 2:03 PM
My neighbors planning proposal was accepted, even although it will overshadow my garden and intrudes into my privacy. My objections to the council were of course ignored -he is friends with the planning officer. I want to sell up and move due to my job now, Dow I need to d Clare my objection?
Glor - 10-Feb-17 @ 7:48 PM
The neighbours children can be heard clearly in our house especially when waking during the night. We put sound proofing in the bedroom but unfortunately it made very little difference. After three years we have decided to move.I'm the first to admit that my husband and I are very sensitive to noise, it doesn't seem to bother their neighbours on the other side for example but my question is, do we need to declare this. My thoughts are that it would definitely put off a purchaser but if we don't mention it and the noise is an issue to a purchaser who then discovers the soundproofing, it's not going to look good.
DL - 5-Feb-17 @ 10:10 AM
We have recently moved in to our first home which is a small flat in a block. We have had an issue with a noisy neighbour in our flat block which turns out has been something several other residents have been battling for many years prior to us buying our flat here. We have been unable to resolve it between us and have now had to escalate to the issue to Police / Environmental Health / Council etc. My question would be if the issue is resolved by th authorities and we do not sell our flat for 2-3 years and in that time there has been no continued problems, are we still obliged to declare it? Is there any mandatory time period for disclosing?
PaulK - 30-Jan-17 @ 7:21 PM
jog - Your Question:
Hi our neighbour has extended his shed onto the back wall , at the end of our garden , thus making it a covered lean to , He did not discuss / mention he was doing this , when we saw him building it we told him we were not happy , he laughed , could not get any sense out of him , he slammed the door in our face. Anyway he has built this it looks horrid from our side he has put perspex in our side to let light in , we called the council they came out and said it was ok as it is under permitted development , my question is will this affect us if we sell ?? thanks.

Our Response:
Whose wall is it attached to? If it's your wall, you can ask him to remove it. If it'snot your wall and falls under permitted development, there's not much you can do apart from to perhaps consider some planting to obscure the eyesore.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Jan-17 @ 12:24 PM
Hi our neighbour has extended his shed onto the back wall, at the end of our garden , thus making it a covered lean to ,Hedid not discuss / mention he was doing this , when we saw him building it we told him we were not happy , he laughed , could not get any sense out of him , he slammed the door in our face.Anyway he has built thisit looks horrid from our side he has put perspex in our side to let light in ,we called the council they came out and said it was ok as it is under permitted development ,my question is will this affect usif we sell ?? thanks.
jog - 3-Jan-17 @ 2:21 PM
We are thinking of buying the house we are renting. The next door neighbour is a divorced man who is basically ok though he has told us various blustering stories about issues he had with previous tenants and most worryingly that he fell out with the landlord when he was living in the house we are renting about the way the garden was planted. The neighbour says the garden had trees which blocked his light and plants which grew overhanging the fence and which he one day savagely chopped back and threw over the fence. The landlord denies there was a problem and says the garden wasn't overgrown and was actually something of a show garden. It looks as though the landlord doesn't have to declare this dispute but we are wondering if we would be foolish moving into a house where there may well be ongoing neighbour problems. The neighbour complained somewhat aggressively to us about our car scratching his in our shared driveway although we don think this was true. He is obviously someone who likes to be in charge.
Afto2016 - 18-Dec-16 @ 11:02 PM
I bought my house back in February ever since we've moved in we've had a problem with the neighbour and noise and aggressive behaviour to myself and my 3 young children the police have been called so many times I've lost count environmental health are now also involved. Nothing was declared on the paper work how ever my other neighbour who isn't attached to us said they had problems with the noise from my neighbour and complained about it..where do I stands regards this it's making our lives a misery
nicG33 - 15-Dec-16 @ 11:02 PM
Veryhelpless- Your Question:
Hi, I'm selling my flat due to an ongoing issues (loud talking & screaming during antisocial hours, unable to communicate even in the nicest possible way, weed smoking, shouting at my guests as they knocked on my door) with the lady neighbour. However I have never reported it, only verbally communicated which wasn't leading to anywhere. Problem is, I actually reported the ex-husband (similar issues) more than a year ago to the council & he has moved out more than a year ago. Should I still declare any of the above? I'm too afraid that buyer will pull out as I cannot afford the consequences.Thank you.

Our Response:
You should declare the complaint, but could add a note saying that the husband has now moved out.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Dec-16 @ 10:26 AM
Fedup- Your Question:
Hi,We have neighbours that make noise frequently throughout the night. They're not the sort of neighbours that can be approached. I contacted the housing association about two years ago to complain about the noise. The housing association did nothing and I never followed up as we decided we had better just move instead of put ourselves at risk from repercussions. It's still a bit issue however. I also want to contact the housing association to ask they clean their garden up as it's going to put any potential buyers off.Do I need to declare any of this? Thanks in advance.

Our Response:
If you've had to complaint to an authority (eg the housing association) about this, you will have to declare it.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Dec-16 @ 11:33 AM
Hi, I'm selling my flat due to an ongoing issues (loud talking & screaming during antisocial hours, unable to communicate even in the nicest possible way, weed smoking, shouting at my guests as they knocked on my door) with the lady neighbour. However I have never reported it, only verbally communicated which wasn't leading to anywhere. Problem is, I actually reported the ex-husband (similar issues) more than a year ago to the council & he has moved out more than a year ago. Should I still declare any of the above? I'm too afraid that buyer will pull out as I cannot afford the consequences. Thank you.
Veryhelpless - 3-Dec-16 @ 9:13 AM
Hi, We have neighbours that make noise frequently throughout the night. They're not the sort of neighbours that can be approached. I contacted the housing association about two years ago to complain about the noise. The housing association did nothing and i never followed up as we decided we had better just move instead of put ourselves at risk from repercussions. It's still a bit issue however. I also want to contact the housing association to ask they clean their garden up as it's going to put any potential buyers off. Do I need to declare any of this? Thanks in advance.
Fedup - 2-Dec-16 @ 3:12 AM
Green - Your Question:
We have had a boundary dispute with our neighbour. I have had a survey done by a RICS surveyor using satellite plotting. My neighbour has now partially accepted this as he has his house up for sale. He is dragging his feet settling the dispute and has asked me if I`m asked if there has been a dispute to deny this. I disagree with this as I feel it may leave us open to claims in the future.His house is with a local agent, should I contact the agent to declare the unresolved boundary dispute ? The Police have also been involved following an incident that resulted in his shot guns being taken away and licence revoked. Should potential purchasers be informed of these and other problems ?

Our Response:
Any buyer of your neighbour's property will need to know about the boundary dispute. If it's resolved that should not be an issue. There is no need for potential buyers to know about the seller's issue with the shot guns.
ProblemNeighbours - 18-Nov-16 @ 10:49 AM
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