Nuisance neighbours and social problems affect house values.
The scourge of nuisance neighbours or harassment in the UK is something that no one wants to experience; unfortunately, some tiny homeowners can do it if the anti-social behaviour is blighting their neighbourhood. This type of conduct can give entire housing developments a lousy reputation, and the resultant lack of demand inevitably leads to reduced house values. Examples of nuisance can involve dogs, children and even parking!
The stark facts surrounding nuisance neighbours and UK house prices
According to recent data from over-50s magazine Saga, 28 per cent of over-50s have had legal arguments with neighbours. Around 40 per cent of those legal battles involved boundary disputes, noise pollution and general anti-social behaviours.
Halifax Bank surveyed 2,000 homeowners back in 2010, and 10 per cent of respondents said they had sold a previous house because of problems with nuisance neighbours. The study also found that the main types of anti-social behaviour affecting neighbourhoods were aggression, violence and noise pollution. However, the fact that the survey discovered neighbours are more relevant to buyers than the performance of local schools is hugely worrying for homeowners.
Leading analysts at Halifax have publicly stated that living next to nuisance neighbours can wipe up to £31,000 off the average property price in the UK, with homeowners powerless to act.
Sellers in problem areas may have to accept lower house prices.
If you are trying to sell your home in a problem area, you will probably have to agree that property values in such locations will inevitably be lower than average. While it may be tempting to keep specific problems to yourself, you could find yourself in hot water, legally speaking, if you withhold information that prevents buyers from making an informed purchasing decision.
If you live next to problem neighbours who like to play loud music, allow their aggressive dogs to roam free or regularly become aggressive or violent with other residents, you will be required to detail such problems in the Seller’s Property Information Form. If you fail to declare a particular issue with neighbours, you could find yourself accused of property fraud, and potential legal challenges to a house sale could ensue. Just having to report nuisance neighbours could affect the future sale value of your home.
Of course, the vast majority of buyers will now perform their research into an area before arranging viewings, so legal disputes, illegal activity and notorious nuisance neighbours will be almost impossible to keep from buyers. Independent house valuations will also consider these types of social problems – devaluing property values in neighbourhoods with significant issues.
Is it possible to mitigate the effects of disappointing property valuations?
If you find that you have bought a house next to the neighbour from hell – drastically reducing its value – your future financial situation could be affected. Whether you can live with anti-social behaviour or not, circumstances beyond your control might reduce the possible final sale price of your property considerably.
A property valuation can only be as accurate as the information available. As well as an inaccurate property valuation, withholding pertinent information may also persuade financial institutions to approve loans on the property.
It may be possible to take a vendor to court for compensation in some rare cases, but proving unlawful intent is ambiguous. For example, one buyer paid £180,000 for a house next to a criminal with an ASBO and claimed the home was only worth half that amount because of its nuisance neighbour. The buyer successfully argued his case in court. So, in some rare cases, it may be possible to sell a home at a loss and sue the vendor for the difference – along with any associated costs.
Researching locally sold prices could pay dividends.
Buyers should check ‘how much houses in the UK have sold for through sites such as zoopla.co.uk, and it may also be worth conducting some anecdotal research on the Internet. In addition, many anti-social behaviour complaints make the news and official court reports, and such cases could warn you of problem areas before it’s too late. Finally, sellers must fully disclose nuisance neighbours and social issues; otherwise, a costly legal battle could result.
Unfortunately, house prices in the UK are inextricably linked to crime rates, anti-social behaviour and nuisance neighbours. Due diligence, careful research, and property experts’ help are essential in protecting your financial interests – whether you are buying or selling a property in the UK.
Nuisance neighbours – what to do?
The best thing to do is to try and engage with your nuisance neighbours to resolve any issues or disputes, not to let things escalate, or you’ll need to involve the Council (Environmental Health) and possibly the Police.