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Seller beware of neighbour disputes

A legal expert is warning people wanting to sell their property while involved in a dispute with a neighbour to be ‘upfront and honest’ about the situation when putting their house on the market.

According to a survey, around three million adults in the UK claim to have suffered at the hands of problem neighbours.

The most common complaints include boundary disputes, anti-social behaviour and noise pollution.

Sarah Barnes, head of the Residential Property team at Napthens solicitors, says if dealt with correctly, disputes needn’t have an adverse effect on a sale, but it’s important to be upfront and honest.

She said: “If a seller is involved with an ongoing dispute with neighbours, it’s natural to be worried about how this could complicate matters. However, it doesn’t mean that a sale is impossible, only that more steps must be taken to prevent delays.

“Disputes with neighbours can be unpleasant and distressing. Although moving home may feel like the end of the problems, the seller has a responsibility to disclose details of any ongoing issues to potential buyers prior to the completion of a sale.

“The Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF) must be completed honestly. Disputes can be subjective, is it a case of crossed words over loud music being played occasionally, or has there been a serious case of criminal damage?

“The simplest way to look at it is if there is any information known to the seller which could impact the buyer’s decision, it must be declared. If the buyer discovers evidence of previous disputes which weren’t disclosed before the sale, it could result in legal action for misrepresentation and damages.

“The best thing to do is consult your solicitor on how to move forward and ensure a smooth sale with as few delays as possible.”