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What You Have to Declare About Neighbours When Selling

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 3 Jan 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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[Add a Comment]
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
Schnips - Your Question:
We have neighbours that parked over our car so we could not get out. We got a dropped kerb, for it to continue. However, since then, we got some chickens (they are quiet) and I caught my neighbour and a town councillor who lives 2 doors away, spooking the chickens to make them noisy. They were very abusive to me, saying how as a councillor he would make us remove our chickens - then threatened me as my husband had a skip for 2 weeks with his work refuse (on our land) and telling me he was breaking the law (and how the chickens are illegal) and I stood my ground. I knew both were not illegal, and I pointed out how my neighbour parked over the dropped kerb was illegal. I was told I spoke rubbish and he never parked illegally, to that I replied I had photos of it (as been ongoing for a few years but whenever I mentioned it I got told I must park better as a female). My neighbour sneered at me "Oh you would do that" - bit shocked as I have been polite to him. Anyway - after this, I reported the town councillor to the council, and eventually he got a reluctant slap on the hand, and I had to report my neighbours to the police. Basically as I caught them spooking my chickens I was advised to get CCTV to stop them (and before it was installed I did catch the neighbour trying to spook the birds and he swore at me when he saw me). They have since also had a go at me, as when they had a fireworks party I showed my 8 month old son the fireworks from our bedroom (not near the window) and they saw me. They accused me of filming them. Weird as I had a baby in my arms. I did say thanks for the free show! Anyway - the police have said they are close to harassing us, and spoken to them about their behaviour, how much do we have to declare?

Our Response:
You will need to declare this in your seller's information if you sell the property.
ProblemNeighbours - 18-Nov-16 @ 10:37 AM
I moved in just over a year ago and my neighbours child is very noisy and loud. When a parent stays over she is loud and sometimes singing is heard early hours of morning. The seller never mentioned this and I did ask about the neighbours and he just went on to say who lived in each house. This must have been a problem for them as it is for us especially when we have visitors. Is this.something I can mention to my solicitor as I paid over what the house was worth and they are renting next door. I feel like this problem was hidden from me and I would not have bought the house had I have known about the noisy neighbour
Fed up - 17-Nov-16 @ 10:53 PM
SB62 - Your Question:
We are considering purchasing a house where there has been a dispute between neighbours regarding leaks caused by faulty flashing around the chimney. The owner of the house we are thinking of buying has died or has moved into a home - we are not sure which. When viewing the property we spoke to the neighbour who told us that she believes that the dispute she had with her previous neighbour will be transferred to the new owners including a claim she has made for legal fees and replacement bed and bedding. Whilst, as part of renovation work to the property, we would fix the chimney but we would not want to be responsible for any further costs. Any advice?

Our Response:
The neighbour cannot transfer the dispute to a new neighbour. She will have to start a new case against you the new neighbours. You will not be responsible for her fees or damages that already occurred.
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Nov-16 @ 12:28 PM
We have had a boundary dispute with our neighbour. I have had a survey done by aRICSsurveyor 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 ?
Green - 17-Nov-16 @ 7:38 AM
We have neighbours that parked over our car so we could not get out.We got a dropped kerb, for it to continue. However, since then, we got some chickens (they are quiet) and I caught my neighbour and a town councillor who lives 2 doors away, spooking the chickens to make them noisy.They were very abusive to me, saying how as a councillor he would make us remove our chickens - then threatened me as my husband had a skip for 2 weeks with his work refuse (on our land) and telling me he was breaking the law (and how the chickens are illegal) and I stood my ground.I knew both were not illegal, and I pointed out how my neighbour parked over the dropped kerb was illegal. I was told I spoke rubbish and he never parked illegally, to that I replied I had photos of it (as been ongoing for a few years but whenever I mentioned it I got told I must park better as a female).My neighbour sneered at me "Oh you would do that" - bit shocked as I have been polite to him...Anyway - after this, I reported the town councillor to the council, and eventually he got a reluctant slap on the hand, and I had to report my neighbours to the police.Basically as I caught them spooking my chickens I was advised to get CCTV to stop them (and before it was installed I did catch the neighbour trying to spook the birds and he swore at me when he saw me).They have since also had a go at me, as when they had a fireworks party I showed my 8 month old son the fireworks from our bedroom (not near the window) and they saw me.They accused me of filming them... Weird as I had a baby in my arms.I did say thanks for the free show!Anyway - the police have said they are close to harassing us, and spoken to them about their behaviour, how much do we have to declare?
Schnips - 17-Nov-16 @ 12:27 AM
We are considering purchasing a house where there has been a dispute between neighbours regarding leaks caused by faulty flashing around the chimney. The owner of the house we are thinking of buying has died or has moved into a home - we are not sure which. When viewing the property we spoke to the neighbour who told us that she believes that the dispute she had with her previous neighbour will be transferred to the new owners including a claim she has made for legal fees and replacement bed and bedding. Whilst, as part of renovation work to the property, we would fix the chimney but we would not want to be responsible for any further costs. Any advice?
SB62 - 16-Nov-16 @ 3:34 PM
Foxy26 - Your Question:
I moved into my property (semi bungalow) 2yrs ago and almost immediately the adjoining property was sold as the owner had passed away. The new owner is 70 and has mental health issues, normally she is no problem at all but on one occasion (before I knew of her illness) I contacted the police as she was quite verbally abusive towards me. The police came to take a statement and they informed me of her illness. She hasn’t been any bother at all since. Would I have to report this situation as she’s not the reason I’d like to move.Many thanks.

Our Response:
If you have reported it the police, you may have to report it in the seller's information when you sell. If nothing else transpires in the meantime, it should not make much difference to your chances of selling the property.
ProblemNeighbours - 9-Nov-16 @ 2:30 PM
I moved into my property (semi bungalow) 2yrs ago and almost immediately the adjoining property was sold as the owner had passed away.The new owner is 70 and has mental health issues, normally she is no problem at all but on one occasion (before I knew of her illness) I contacted the police as she was quite verbally abusive towards me.The police came to take a statement and they informed me of her illness.She hasn’t been any bother at all since. Would I have to report this situation as she’s not the reason I’d like to move. Many thanks.
Foxy26 - 8-Nov-16 @ 9:42 PM
After having three independent structural engineers’ visit to provide advice on planning regulation andthe damage/gaps that have appeared since the ground was excavated below the level of our foundations level and within a distance of 3 metres to our wall which was unlawful under the Party Wall etc. [Act 1996]. the director fail to send us any information and now have the nerve to take us to court asking toput a drain in our garden. Just find it had to believe the local council approved the plans which had no juxtaposition to adjoining properties.we nowvelux window half a meter away from our bedroom window.
Jenny H - 27-Oct-16 @ 5:47 PM
Been in mybought flat just over 6 months and have inherited the upstairs neighbour from hell he has laminated flooring,I believe I wasn't given the truth about my purchase, Im so upset what should of been a place of retreat from a hard days work is a living nightmare. Considering selling or renting but feel who would what to live here. So unfair to subject some one else to this awful neighbour who is renting. Don't know to get hold of his landlord. I cannot believe that the previous tenant didn't have problems with him. Feel very let down.
GP - 19-Oct-16 @ 8:09 PM
Joey - Your Question:
I'm looking to move house and have receven questionaire on my property. All is straight forward apart from question regarding excessive noise? We live in a detached house like our neighbours and on one side their teenage son practices drums most days. It's never late in the evening and doesnt bother us. Is this considered excessive and should I declare it? I don't think so but it appears to be subjective to me

Our Response:
Usually you only have to declare noises/neighbour issues that you've actually reported it. If it's never been an issue for you, you'll probably be ok with not mentioning it.
ProblemNeighbours - 23-Sep-16 @ 2:11 PM
I'm looking to move house and have receven questionaire on my property. All is straight forward apart from question regardingexcessive noise?We live in a detached house like our neighbours and on one side their teenage son practices drums most days. It's never late in the evening and doesnt bother us. Is this considered excessive and should I declare it?I don't think so but it appears to be subjective to me
Joey - 22-Sep-16 @ 11:36 AM
We moved in to our house 6 months ago now, no problem with neighbours was declared. Every other week the house opposite us has parties with very loud music which we can hear in our bedroom over the tele. Speaking to others this has been going on since they moved in 10 years ago! The worst is the neighbour directly next door, her daughter is currently harassing me and last night threatened to kill me and rip my head off when I was in the garden with my kids! Obviously reported this to the police who then informed me she has done this to everyone on the street and surrounding streets and targets people 1 by 1, police have issued her with a harassment warning but surely this neighborur should have been declared when we where buying the house? She is in court every month for breach of the peace and harrassment! She's making my life a living hell?
Cloe081090 - 17-Sep-16 @ 7:49 PM
LauraHG - Your Question:
We moved into a property around 5 months ago (our first home). We viewed the house 4 times at various times of the day and week and heard no noise at all. Straight after moving in we found out that our neighbour is a housing association house, which we didn't know before moving in, and our neighbours have quite a few children who are extremely noisy and always getting into trouble! Where do we stand, should this have been declared and should our solicitor have told us about the adjoining neighbour being a council house? The estate agent also lied to us about who lived in the house before us, making it out to be a woman on her own, when in actual fact it was a family with 8 children who were also HA (the house had been rented out to the council by the person who owned the house). We are extremely worried that by the time we come to sell the house this could affect the value.

Our Response:
There is no obligation to inform you that your new property is next to a housing association or council property. If your previous neighbour didn't notice the noise or felt it was not an issue they would not have needed to mention this in the seller's questionnaire.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Sep-16 @ 11:58 AM
We moved into a property around 5 months ago (our first home). We viewed the house 4 times at various times of the day and week and heard no noise at all. Straight after moving in we found out that our neighbour is a housing association house, which we didn't know before moving in, and our neighbours have quite a few children who are extremely noisy and always getting into trouble! Where do we stand, should this have been declared and should our solicitor have told us about the adjoining neighbour being a council house? The estate agent also lied to us about who lived in the house before us, making it out to be a woman on her own, when in actual fact it was a family with 8 children who were also HA (the house had been rented out to the council by the person who owned the house). We are extremely worried that by the time we come to sell the house this could affect the value.
LauraHG - 11-Sep-16 @ 2:56 PM
hello there, i aim too sell my house soon as the neighbors joined too me (semi) have had a through ceiling lift fitted,we didn't know until the noise started, a loud hummimg sound which gets louder the higher it goes ! its behind our dining room wall and ends behind the main bedroom .Ithurts my ears ! I have been told it devalue my property! Also i have too tell any new buyers about the noise ! i rang my council too ask for advice as it was funded by them and told me there was nothing i could do! im at my wits end!! jess
jess - 26-Aug-16 @ 6:39 PM
We have just bought a three bed house and the social issues with the children the arguing the door slamming and swearing is leaving me with anxiety issues, I'm constantly in tears. Where do we stand legally as the vendor said that he never had a issue with them. The noise is unbearable!! Please advice as I think I'm going to lose my mind!
Pea - 19-Aug-16 @ 5:44 PM
Do you have to declare if you have called the police on a neighbour..I have a problem the neighbours are about to sell a property but whilst doing the major work have damaged our property..path ..drive ..we asked them to put it right but they have not and the builder said they had no intention of doing so ..amongst all this she didn't like that the council got involved and then decided to involve police for no good reason .. will they have to declare as they already have the building up for sale
Afd - 18-Aug-16 @ 1:43 PM
If a complaint about shouting and screaming was made about a neighbour, but only to their housing association and not the council does this have to be declared?
Emmno - 17-Aug-16 @ 9:43 AM
Hecky - Your Question:
Can anyone confirm if this issue: 'you’ll have to own up to any issues you’ve had with the neighbours when you’re selling your home'.applies, or not, in Scotland with it's different conveyancing and planning legislation and its own Home Report?

Our Response:
The Scottish Government's example Property Questionnaire doesn't make specific reference to neighbour complaints/issues
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Aug-16 @ 2:06 PM
Can anyone confirm if this issue: 'you’ll have to own up to any issues you’ve had with the neighbours when you’re selling your home' .... applies, or not, in Scotland with it's different conveyancing and planning legislation and its own Home Report?
Hecky - 5-Aug-16 @ 6:13 PM
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