How to spot neighbours from hell before buying a house

You’ve fallen in love with a house and are ready to make an offer - but what are the neighbours like? How can you spot neighbours from hell before you buy a house?

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Rubbish outside neighbours house

Look at their house and garden

It may look like your dream home, but living next to a troublesome neighbour can make your life a misery. It can also make it difficult to sell your property when you decide to move.

Looking at your potential neighbours' gardens can give you some measure of their level of care and consideration. Everyone lets the weeds grow a little too high sometimes, but if you see serious disrepair or mountains of junk in the garden, this should raise the alarm.

Most people are perfectly considerate to the neighbourhood generally. Most will try to maintain a certain standard of care at the front of their house. If the front of the house is not looked after or used as a dumping ground, it can be a sign of a broader lack of consideration.

Ask the seller about their neighbours

Ask your seller whether they have had any cause for complaint against their neighbours.

If they gloss over the subject or seem cagey, it may suggest there are issues. If they enjoy perfect neighbourly relations, the seller is likely to gush about them as a plus point of buying the property. If the seller is reluctant to talk about the neighbours, there may be a reason.

Pay an evening visit to the property

Visiting the property in the evening or at night can reveal a completely different character to the property or neighbourhood.

Are the neighbours noisy in the evenings? Is there more coming and going, is it a party house?

When more people in the neighbourhood are home, how do they interact with each other? Try visiting on a weekend night.

Read more:

How to check the local area before buying a house

Pay the neighbours a visit

If you’re really serious about proceeding with buying the house, pop next door and ring the bell. You can do this under the guise of getting honest feedback about living in the area: getting a perspective from someone who isn’t trying to sell the benefits of the area to you. You can ask them about the other neighbours at the same time.

This approach can give you an insight into who you might be living next to. You may get relations off to a friendly start. Alternatively, you may decide that you are not compatible and think again about whether to make an offer.

Read the Property Information Form (TA6)

The seller will need to complete various forms including the TA6 Property Information Form. This form will include details of the property and how it has been used

The Property Information Form (TA6) will be forwarded to you by your conveyancing solicitor during the purchase conveyancing process.

This form should disclose details of any disputes that have occurred between the seller and their neighbours. This can include:

  • Written exchanges
  • Problems with maintenance of any shared areas
  • Boundary disputes
  • Complaints to the authorities about their conduct

The form can even tell you whether the neighbour has an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)s, complaints about noise, aggressive pets and so on.

The seller has a legal responsibility to disclose any information about disputes when completing the TA6 form.

If your seller doesn’t reveal any material disputes or complaints, you could have grounds to take legal action.

It would of course be preferable to avoid legal action. Make sure you read the TA6 form carefully and raise any questions if you need more information or clarification. Don't accept evasive or half-answers and ask your conveyancing solicitor to advise you if you have any doubts at all.

Conclusion

Trust your instincts. However much you love the property, if you get a sense from the seller that the neighbours are tricky customers, investigate as fully as you can. Read the property forms carefully and do your own detective work, it could save you a lot of future stress.

If you think the neighbours might make your life difficult, consider your options, which may include finding another property to buy.

Your next step

If you are buying, selling, remortgaging or transferring equity in a home, we can help you find an expert conveyancing solicitor.

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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Author:
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher