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Do You Have to Disclose Neighbour Disputes When Selling a Property?
If you have fallen out with your neighbours, then you have a duty to disclose this when you sell your home. You will be required to complete a property information form giving the buyer details of a wide range of issues, and one of the questions that you have to answer relates to disputes. If you fail to answer this honestly, you could end up facing legal action if your buyer discovers the truth.
What does the property information form ask?
The standard property information form asks for information about existing disputes as well as complaints or issues that could cause a dispute in the future. It says:
- The seller should provide information about any existing disputes. This could include the cause of the dispute (for example, complaints relating to noise) and any action taken to resolve matters. The seller should also provide information about disputes that have arisen in the past.
- The seller should provide information about anything that could lead to a dispute in the future.
If you are thinking of selling your property and you have had difficulties with the neighbours, we can advise you of what you may need to disclose.
What has to be disclosed in the property information form?
What type of issue is classed as a dispute is open to interpretation. However, you should bear in mind that you could be sued if you do not notify buyers of matters such as a boundary dispute or a disagreement over shared house maintenance.
A boundary dispute can include matters such as land ownership, fences or hedges. Shared maintenance disagreements can include issues such as dealing with guttering, drains, gardens and communal areas.
If you have had to report the neighbour to the police or local authority, or you have written to them raising a problem, then you are legally bound to disclose this on the property information form.
It could be open to your buyer to make a complaint a long time after the sale completes if they have difficulties with the neighbours themselves.
Where an issue has been more minor, for example, noise problems that have not recurred or something which has genuinely been resolved amicably, then you do not have to disclose this.
Resolving a dispute with your neighbour
If you are able to resolve the dispute with your neighbour, this is likely to be to your advantage when selling. Even though you may be required to disclose the issue, if you and your neighbour can reassure the buyer that the matter has been dealt with satisfactorily, it may not affect your sale.
You may be able to negotiate a resolution directly, or you may benefit from legal help. Sometimes, a letter from a solicitor can be enough to persuade someone to take steps to resolve matters.
At Taylor Fordyce, we can advise you on the best course of action and suggest ways in which a dispute can be dealt with. We are generally able to find a solution without the need for legal proceedings.
We can also advise you on how to disclose matters on your property information form if you want to sell your property.
For more information on dealing with disagreements, see land and property rights disputes.
What to do if problem neighbours were not disclosed to you
If you have bought a property only to discover that the neighbours are a significant problem and you find out that the seller also had difficulties with them but did not disclose this, then you may be able to bring a claim for misrepresentation against your seller.
You will need to show that they provided you with inaccurate or incorrect information. This could be done by finding people who are able to give evidence of the dispute your seller had with the neighbours.
It may be possible to settle your claim by negotiation and without the need for a court hearing. If the case does go to court, then you could request damages for compensation which could be assessed with reference to the reduction in the value of the property.
Bringing this type of claim is not easy, and it is recommended that you speak to a dispute resolution expert about the best way of proceeding. Generally, it is better to resolve an issue without involving the court where possible, as this is likely to be a quicker and more cost-effective solution.
Contact our property dispute solicitors
If you would like more information about disclosing neighbour disputes when selling property, get in touch with one of our teams in Winchester, Alresford, Sunningdale or London. Alternatively, you can contact us by telephone on 01962 841041 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.