Noisy neighbours - what to do before selling your home?
When it comes to selling a property, excessive noise from neighbours can be a problem. Noise issues can deter buyers and even affect the value of your property. If you intend to sell your property and have noisy neighbours - here's what you need to do first.
Arguments over noise are one of the most common neighbour disputes, with 60% of people in a recent survey complaining that loud neighbourly noises - from loud music to raised voices - had caused them 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 that a new owner takes legal action, demanding financial compensation from you.
What do I need to declare?
The Sellers Property Information Form (TA6) requires a property vendor to truthfully answer questions on disputes and complaints regarding his or any neighbouring property and to give details of anything that might lead to a dispute. The question relates to historic, current and future issues.
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) these factors will have considerably more importance to prospective buyers. 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
For example, if 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 the incessantly-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 what actions have been agreed.
Firstly, try to have an informal chat with the noisy neighbours. 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.
Formal, legal action
Sometimes there is no other option than to take formal 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 get a sale, 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, and 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.