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Everything you need to know about neighbourly disputes when selling

about 1 month ago
Everything you need to know about neighbourly disputes when selling

Everybody needs good neighbours but what if the people next door are a nuisance? When it comes to selling a property, the requirement for full disclosure means admitting if you’ve ever complained about the people living either side of you, or if you’re currently involved in a neighbourly spat.

In this article we reveal when and how disputes need to be disclosed, along with details of what might happen if you fail to admit a serious disagreement or complaint.

Specific dispute questions need answering

Almost every estate agent in England and Wales (and most commonly in Scotland) uses The Law Society’s Property Information Form (the TA6) when collating information from the seller. Although completion of the form is not compulsory, the buyer’s solicitor will almost certainly advise their client not to proceed with the purchase if the form isn’t filled in.

Section 2 of the TA6 form specifically addresses the matter of disputes and complaints. A vendor will need to share details about current grievances with their neighbours, as well as share any information that may lead to a dispute in the future.

Future plans also form part of the picture

Although it may not seem obvious, a seller will also need to detail if they have received any notices or correspondence from a neighbour, or if any negotiations or discussions have taken place, regarding matters that affect the property or a property nearby. So if you’re fuming about your neighbour’s plans for an imposing two-storey extension, a seller will need to disclose this.  

Keeping secrets is not advised

You might be wondering what might happen if you keep a feud with your neighbours a secret. The law can step in if a seller has not told the truth when filling out the Property Information Form – known as a ‘Misrepresentation In Property Sales’. 

A buyer who has been deliberately misled – and is affected by a neighbourly dispute that has carried over from the previous owner – may be entitled to go to court and claim financial damages. In very rare cases, the buyer may be able to ‘rescind’ the contract – an act that sees the property returned to the seller and the purchaser given all their money back.

Slight falling out or a serious issue?

So what constitutes a neighbourly dispute that needs disclosing? If your neighbours aren’t your cup of tea – perhaps you don’t even speak to them – there’s nothing to disclose. The issue changes if you have made any formal complaint about your neighbour’s behaviour.

This could be in the form of a phone call to the police if you have seen illegal activities taking place or if you have made a complaint about nuisance noise to your local council. A seller will also need to disclose if they know their neighbour has an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).

Not just anti-social behaviour

Other disputes that need disclosing are those that involve boundaries, rights of way, access and shared maintenance, especially if there is any written evidence that the seller has raised an issue. Small niggles – one off disagreements that have been amicably resolved and have not recurred – do not need disclosing.  

Seek a resolution before you sell

If you are intending to sell your property and find yourself with an ongoing neighbourly dispute, trying to resolve it before you sell is the best course of action. You may like to use The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) specialised neighbour dispute service before you come to market. If the matter is successfully resolved, be sure to keep written evidence that can be shared with any buyer’s solicitor.  

We’d be happy to talk to you about your options when selling a property you own. Please contact the team for advice and an up-to-date valuation.

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