Editor's Pick

Estate agents neglect to ask about nuisance neighbours

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

Sellers are legally required to disclose any problems from boundary disputes to subsidence

Only 40% of estate agents ask their sellers to reveal issues with their neighbours, according to a new study by Churchill Home Insurance.

This is despite the fact that it is a legal requirement to be upfront about any neighbour disputes to a potential buyer. In addition estate agents are supposed to reveal any negative issues about a property, if known to them, which may affect the buying decision.

It’s important to be honest from the get go because nuisance neighbours could knock more than £6,000 off the price of a property, according to Churchill, or you risk losing the sale. Around one in seven estate agents have seen cases where the seller had to drop the price of a property because of issues with neighbours.

Even worse, if you have deliberately misled a buyer to purchase your home, you could face expensive legal action further down the line.

Common disputes

Of those estate agents that do ask sellers to disclose issues, the most common dispute is over communal space. Over half (56%) of the estate agents surveyed identified this as the major centre of disagreement between neighbours. This was followed by noise complaints (10%) and boundary issues (8%). Other troubles include anti-social behaviour and complaints about dogs.

Martin Scott, head of Churchill Home Insurance, said: “Buying a property is one of the most expensive decisions many of us will ever make. As such, we are well within our rights to be informed about issues that may affect our buying decision. Buyers should ask their estate agent to disclose as much as information as they can about the property, seller and neighbours to help the buyer make the right decision.”

If you are purchasing a property, make sure you are fully informed about what you are buying. Churchill offers the following tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When you meet the estate agent or seller enquire about issues such as past/ongoing disputes and the neighbourhood
  • Do your own due diligence. Ensure you visit the property multiple times at different times of the day to get a full picture of the property and the area
  • Research the local area. Talk to neighbours, look at crime stats and visit the local shops/restaurants to understand more about your new potential home
  • Check out online resources such as the Environment Agency (England and Wales) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for information on flooding and environmental information such as pollution
  • Choose estate agents and conveyancers that are members of a professional organisation or association and have positive online ratings or come recommended.