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Neighbours from hell: smart tips for buying a property

With Halloween later this week, out latest blog for Zoopla helps you avoid "neighbours from hell". There are certain things the seller has to tell you about problem neighbours - but don't just rely on the law. If you're buying a house, make sure you've found out all you can before you move in.

October 28, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.30.26What counts as nightmare neighbours is open to interpretation. Some people might see living next to a house full of lively children as a nightmare scenario, while others might think of it as a positive bonus.


Likewise, living next to a party house might be the ideal scenario if you’re in your early twenties but it’s not everyone’s idea of fun.

Your solicitors will help protect you. Before you commit to buying a home the previous owner should provide you with a Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF).

This outlines disputes with neighbours, such as written exchanges, complaints about them to the authorities, boundary disputes and whether any of your potential neighbours have ASBOs.

If your vendor deliberately withholds any of that information you can take legal action and may be able to sue them even years after you’ve bought your home. But you’ll want to do everything you can to avoid getting into any costly legal battles. So make the effort to do your own investigations before you buy. We’ve got some top tips to help you.

Six steps to taking control

1. What does your future neighbours’ house look like? The odd dead plant and a fence panel on the move we can let go as a consequence of a busy life. But a badly kept house with ancient peeling paint, broken windows and unwashed net curtains can be telling.

2. Knock on your prospective neighbours’ doors and ask them about the area, whether there have been any problems between them and the current owners and try to get a feel for whether you want to live next door to them.

3. Ask them about the other neighbours – are there any on-going disputes between your neighbours that could become an issue for you, such as overgrown trees that are getting bigger by the year?

4. If you are buying a leasehold there may be other leaseholders in the building – speak to them about whether they are satisfied with the management company or freeholder and ask how they deal with the building’s common areas

5. If the neighbours aren’t forthcoming rival estate agents will often dish the dirt on a property, particularly if they have previously had it on their books and failed to sell it.

6. It may even be possible to get hold of the previous owners. They will no longer have a vested interest in talking the property up, and may be more frank about the neighbours’ shortcomings.

Putting the extra time in to finding out about your property may seem like a lot of effort but it could prove invaluable for years to come. So be confident and get knocking on doors. If they are willing to speak to you, you could learn some valuable information. If not, then you will at least have learned something valuable about whether you want to live next door to them or not.


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