Noisy neighbours - what to do before selling your home?
Ongoing or even historical noise issues can affect the value of your property and deter buyers. If you intend to sell your property and have noisy neighbours - here's what you need to do.
Noise is the most common cause of neighbour disputes
Arguments over noise are one of the most common causes of neighbour disputes. In a recent study, 60% of people complained about noisy neighbours, citing anything from loud music to raised voices as a cause of irritation.
You may be tempted not to mention the noisy neighbours to prospecting buyers, hoping that the neighbours are quiet during potential buyer viewings. However, failing to disclose noise problems could mean the new owner taking legal action, against you.
What do I need to declare?
Your conveyancing solicitor will require you to complete a copy of the Sellers Property Information Form (TA6) which will be sent to the buyer's solicitor.
This form requires the seller of a property to answer questions about their home and how they have used it. Specifically, the form asks the seller:
2.1 Have there been any disputes or complaints regarding this property or a property nearby?
As a seller, you must complete the form honestly and you must not withhold any information. The TA6 form is a legal document which forms part of the contract of sale.
You can download a copy of the Law Society TA6 form here:
Will noisy neighbours affect the selling price of my home?
How much impact the noisy neighbours have on the value of your property will depend on various elements:
The property's location
If a property is in an area where there is high demand (perhaps because of a school catchment area or a good commuter links), prospective buyers may place less importance on a noise issue. In a busy, urban environment, most buyers will expect some degree of noise.
The nature of the noise
You might find the high jinks of noisy teenagers or a dog that barks all day intolerable, but prospective buyers with teenagers or pets of their own may not even notice.
Any action you may have taken in the past
If, for example, you have complained to the police once about a party that got out of hand, or have raised an issue with the local council about a barking dog, the fact that 'formal action' has been taken could have an impact on a potential sale.
Some buyers will view the formal action as evidence that the issue is particularly serious, whereas they may have glossed over it otherwise. In other cases, the fact that this action has been taken may give the buyers comfort, particularly if the noise is no longer a problem.
What action should I take?
Before you put your house on the market, it is worth trying to resolve any issues if you haven't already done so. The issues will still need to be declared, but you will be in a better position if you can demonstrate that an amicable resolution has been reached.
The first step is to have an informal chat with the neighbour. They may be unaware that the noise is travelling, or that it is causing distress and they may be able to do something about it.
If informal negotiation is unsuccessful, suggest to your neighbours that you both work with a mediation service if the problem cannot be resolved informally. This is preferable to taking legal action.
Sometimes there is no other option than to take formal legal action, by raising a statutory nuisance complaint with the local council.
Be aware that to be classed as a statutory nuisance the noise must occur regularly and continue for a period of time that makes it unreasonable. The council will look into the case and take appropriate action.
Should I reduce the price of my home?
Since you risk costly legal action and paying financial compensation if you fail to disclose issue of noisy neighbours, it may be worth reducing the price of your home in order to sell it, making it clear to potential buyers the lower price reflects the noise issues.
Declaring the issue and offering a price reduction is often the fastest, safest solution. There will be no risk that the fully-informed buyer will pursue you for compensation later. This route avoids having to delay putting the house on the market while you attempt to negotiate with the neighbours.
Your conveyancer will be able to offer specific advice, depending on your circumstances.
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