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What You Have to Declare About Neighbours When Selling

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 12 Dec 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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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Steve Turner - Your Question:
Hi,My neighbour to the side has put a raised patio in the corner of their garden adjoining mine at the rear.They have now put a large summer House type building immediately next to my fence. It is large and obtrusive. I’ve read the regulations which indicate a max height of 2.5m, the new summer house is way in excess of this.They have not spoken to us about their addition but I want to handle things appropriately. We are neighbours not friends. Help please.

Our Response:
Yes - if it's within two metres of the boundary the maximum height is 2.5 metres. If you feel they're not within the permitted development limits, contact your planning department.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Dec-17 @ 3:47 PM
Hi, My neighbour to the side has put a raised patio in the corner of their garden adjoining mine at the rear. They have now put a large summer House type building immediately next to my fence. It is large and obtrusive. I’ve read the regulations which indicate a max height of2.5m, the new summer house is way in excess of this. They have not spoken to us about their addition but I want to handle things appropriately. We are neighbours not friends. Help please.
Steve Turner - 12-Dec-17 @ 9:59 PM
Rouss - Your Question:
We live in a terraced house and had building work completed 1.5 years ago on the ground floor (garage converted to kitchen diner). Regulations were followed, we had the work completed by a reputable builder and have all the required paperwork to demonstrate correct procedures/building regs were adhered to.In the 1.5 years since the work our neighbour has not once complained and we have amicable relations with them. That was until we put our house on the market last month. As soon as the for sale sign went up we started receiving letters saying the building work was substandard, that we hadn't followed regs and that he could hear noise from us all the time such as sneezing and singing. We spoke to him and he accepted that we had building regs and we thought the issue was resolved but a few days after the sold sign has gone up the letters have started again with accusations of cutting into third party walls (which we haven't) and failure to adhere to fire regulations. He has even made trips into the estate agent to hand deliver letters saying that he's reported us to the council for the poor building work. We feel he's trying to prevent us selling, although we're unsure why. Do we have to declare this? What are our options?

Our Response:
If the works have been passed by your local building regulations department the neighbour doesn't really have much evidence to take this any further. As for the noise complaints, has he approached the council (environmental health) with his complaint. You may have to declare his complaint - depending upon the way the seller's questionnaire is phrased.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Dec-17 @ 2:23 PM
We live in a terraced house and had building work completed 1.5 years ago on the ground floor (garage converted to kitchen diner). Regulations were followed, we had the work completed by a reputable builder and have all the required paperwork to demonstrate correct procedures/building regs were adhered to. In the 1.5 years since the work our neighbour has not once complained and we have amicable relations with them. That was until we put our house on the market last month. As soon as the for sale sign went up we started receiving letters saying the building work was substandard, that we hadn't followed regs and that he could hear noise from us all the time such as sneezing and singing. We spoke to him and he accepted that we had building regs and we thought the issue was resolved but a few days after the sold sign has gone up the letters have started again with accusations of cutting into third party walls (which we haven't) and failure to adhere to fire regulations. He has even made trips into the estate agent to hand deliver letters saying that he's reported us to the council for the poor building work. We feel he's trying to prevent us selling, although we're unsure why. Do we have to declare this? What are our options?
Rouss - 5-Dec-17 @ 8:28 PM
Potter - Your Question:
Hi, We have just put up a summer house - after getting permission form builders and meeting all of the Town & Country planning regs, our neighbor has shouted through the fence, taken photos and is going to go to the builders because she can see it from her window. Is this harassment?

Our Response:
No it's not harassment, your neighbour is just annoyed. As long as you have complied with planning and building control regulations however, there's not much your neighbour can do. If you required planning consent for the summerhouse, the neighbour would have been consulted as a matter of course beforehand.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Nov-17 @ 11:22 AM
Hi, We have just put up a summer house - after getting permission form builders and meeting all of the Town & Country planning regs, our neighbor has shouted through the fence, taken photos and is going to go to the builders because she can see it from her window. Is this harassment?
Potter - 14-Nov-17 @ 10:34 AM
Tigger - Your Question:
We have sent complaints on two occasions to the council, once in 2013 and again in 2016 about cockerel noise from a neighbouring property. An abatement notice was issued in 2013. What would we have to declare as we are thinking of moving next year.

Our Response:
You may have to declare both complaints depending onhow the questions in the seller's pack are phrased.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Nov-17 @ 11:59 AM
We have sent complaints on two occasions to the council, once in 2013 and again in 2016 about cockerel noise from a neighbouring property. An abatement notice was issued in 2013. What would we have to declare as we are thinking of moving next year.
Tigger - 10-Nov-17 @ 11:28 AM
JoeBlogs - Your Question:
HiI just moved into my new house five days ago.When I viewed the house I specifically asked if they ever heard any noise from the neighbours and they said no they never hear anything.They did not comment of any noise on the questionnair from the solicitor before buying the house.The bass on the neighbours tv system is so loud it echoes through my entire house and is inescapable.If find this impossible to believe they hadn’t noticed it.Is there anything I can do?Kind regards

Our Response:
You could ask you solicitor to look into this. Could it be that they neighbours have a new TV or the previous owner simply didn't notice because their own TV system was so loud?
ProblemNeighbours - 3-Nov-17 @ 10:07 AM
Hi I just moved into my new house five days ago. When I viewed the house I specifically asked if they ever heard any noise from the neighbours and they said no they never hear anything. They did not comment of any noise on the questionnair from the solicitor before buying the house. The bass on the neighbours tv system is so loud it echoes through my entire house and is inescapable. If find this impossible to believe they hadn’t noticed it. Is there anything I can do? Kind regards
JoeBlogs - 2-Nov-17 @ 5:01 AM
My down stairs neighbours are social housing tenants;They are noisy and anti social. I've discussed it with my freeholder (the housing association) but not with the council or police. However my next door neighbour has called the police and the council about this on several occasions as it also impacts her. How will this impact me selling my flat? Any advice on how to resolve this issue without impacting on a future sale?
Cate - 25-Oct-17 @ 8:39 AM
Millie- Your Question:
Hi we are thinking of selling our house we have had problems with the neighbours down stairs banging doors a lot the problem with her and us is ok now but she still bangs doors everyday do we have to declare it

Our Response:
Have you reported it to any authorities (council, police etc)? If not and you've not openly had discussions with the neighbour about it, then you may not have to declare it, it will depend on how the sellers information questions are posed.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Oct-17 @ 12:03 PM
Hi we are thinking of selling our house we have had problems with the neighbours down stairs banging doors a lot the problem with her and us is ok now but she still bangs doors everyday do we have to declare it
Millie - 21-Oct-17 @ 7:36 PM
I reported my neighbour to EH who monitored noise. Determined no statutory nuisance occurring. If I sell in 12 months time do I have to declare this.
Banannaboots - 20-Oct-17 @ 10:00 PM
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
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