Published 27 days ago

How and when to disclose neighbourly disputes

How and when to disclose neighbourly disputes

Who needs to know that the last time you saw your neighbour was in the back of a police car or that you only communicate with them via a solicitor? Buyers do, that’s who. Potential purchasers have a right to know whether they’ll inherit a long-running feud or if they’ll be disturbed on a regular basis if they buy your property.

Transparency is vitally important and sellers are asked to detail neighbourly relations on the TA6 Property Information Form. Be honest – if you fell out with your next door neighbour over a fallen tree or found their repeated playing of Taylor Swift so unbearable you reported them to the local council, mention it.

Here’s our advice for recognising if your neighbourly dispute needs disclosing and what might happen if you’re not totally transparent. 

Types of dispute

Many sellers question how bad a dispute has to be to disclose it on the TA6 form. If you give each other evil stares, don’t exchange pleasantries or make passive aggressive comments over the garden fence, it’s highly unlikely a future buyer will be affected.   

As a general rule of thumb, if the dispute has been expressed in writing to your neighbour, involves the law or the local authority, or causes a daily nuisance, it needs divulging. Although not exhaustive, the following outlines the type of disputes that need detailing on a TA6 form.   

  • ‘Statutory nuisance’: you may have contacted your neighbour directly or the local authority about something that is damaging to your health or is causing a nuisance. Issues can include loud music and parties at unsociable hours, dogs barking, excess artificial light, smoke, fumes or gases, high hedges and trees, or a build-up of rubbish that could harm health.
  • Illegal activity: if your neighbours have broken the law or you have felt threatened, you may have felt compelled to call the police. Reasons to call the emergency service include violent or abusive behaviour, vandalism or malicious damage, physical or verbal harassment, drug dealing, domestic abuse, prostitution and any other activities that break the law. 
  • Land and ‘rights’ disputes: some of the most passionate arguments between neighbours involve land and rights. You may have contacted a solicitor to resolve issues involving boundaries, shared access, shared maintenance and fences. 
  • The Rights of Light Act 1959 disputes: many neighbours argue about trees, structures and hedges – especially if they block out natural light. The Rights of Light Act 1959 states that if a property has received daylight for the last 20 years, the owner may be entitled to continue receiving that light. You may have taken a neighbour to court if fences, structures, hedges or trees blocked out your natural light. 

Knowing when to disclose a dispute

  • If your dispute is existing and ongoing, you have an obligation to disclose the details under Section 2 ‘disputes and complaints’ on the TA6 form. 
  • You are also obliged to disclose anything that may lead to a dispute in the future, such as a neighbour’s intention to add a large extension, submit an application to turn part of their property into a commercial commodity or their desire to start a disruptive business from home.
  • If you were engaged in an argument or a dispute with your neighbour, but it has been successfully resolved, you should still provide evidence of any investigation and the outcome.  

What happens when you lie

We understand sellers may want to hide unpleasant situations that have happened with their neighbours but if the new buyer finds they are experiencing the same negatives, they are within their rights to take action. They could seek financial damages due to property misrepresentation or even call for a ‘rescission’ of the contract, which means the property is given back to the vendor and a full refund is given to the purchaser.  

5 steps to achieve a resolution:

  • Talk to your neighbours, calmly and politely
  • Contact Citizens Advice for guidance
  • Try a mediation service, such as the Civil Mediation Council if you live in England and Wales, or the Scottish Mediation Network if you live in Scotland
  • Contact The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), who offer a specialised neighbour dispute service
  • Apply for a court ruling 

If you’re worried that a neighbourly dispute may harm the chances of a sale or affect your home’s value, please talk to us.

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