New research from Churchill Home Insurance has found that only 40% of estate agents actively ask vendors about issues with their neighbours.
Furthermore, 10% of estate agents just rely solely on the purchasers’ solicitor or conveyancer to investigate existing issues with neighbours.
Of those estate agents that do identify issues, the most contentious disputes are over communal space. 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.
14% of estate agents highlighted cases where the seller had to drop the price of a property because of issues with neighbours. The average price drop was 3.8%, an average of around £7,000 in England and Wales and £6,400 in Scotland.
Churchill’s research also found that 20% of estate agents ask sellers if they have had issues with their council and 15% of these would pass this information on to the prospective buyer.
Since the demise of the Property Misdirection Act in 2013, estate agents are required under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations to reveal any negative issues about a property, if known to them, which may affect the buying decision. If an estate agent has been made aware of a nightmare neighbour or previous council disputes, they are obliged to inform the buyer. Withholding information that could affect the buying decision could land estate agents in hot water. They may be subject to legal action and fines of up to £5,000 and/or two years in prison.
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.
“Churchill Family Legal Protection is available as a policy add-on for Churchill’s Home Insurance customers, which provides £100,000 of cover for legal costs to help you with issues such as pursuing neighbour disputes.”