Tricky Neighbours? Here’s how to Avoid Disputes – or Deal With Them Wisely if they do Crop Up

tricky neighbours

Living next door doesn't mean you'll always get on, but nobody wants a stressful fall-out. By Luke Rix-Standing.

Neighbours often rank up there with the in-laws on the list of people it’s really useful to get on with.

You live literally side-by-side – but just as with the in-laws, that doesn’t mean you automatically get on.

So what are neighbours battling over, and how should you handle a dispute with a tricky neighbour, whether it’s across the garden fence or in the courtroom? We talked to Dr Mike Talbot, CEO of conflict resolution experts UK Mediation, for his thoughts on the matter…

tricky neighbours

Causes of concern

Noise complaints frequently rank among the most common cause of neighbour irritation, particularly during summer with children off school, outdoor DIY projects, sizzling barbecues, and long evenings out on the patio all taking place.

Boundary issues involving shared spaces or fences also commonly cause consternation. “Plants come up quite a lot,” says Dr Talbot. “If my neighbour’s plant is growing through my fence, and I cut it off or lay down weedkiller, in their eyes I might have killed their plant.”

Party walls are as contentious as they ever were, and there’s even a designated organisation – The Faculty Of Party Wall Surveyors (fpws.org.uk) – devoted to the complexities they pose.

The hardest issues to resolve involve lifestyle – fundamental behaviours that residents are unwilling to change. “Cooking smells can be contentious,” says Talbot. “Plus late-night parties, drinking or smoking cannabis in the garden – especially when the neighbours are of a more conservative disposition. Things can get quite heated.”

If required, remember that your local council has a duty to investigate so-called ‘statutory nuisances’ – any disturbances that could be damaging to a citizen’s health. These include noise pollution, light pollution, and conventional pollution like dust, smoke, or a build-up of rubbish.

tricky neighbours

Build a relationship

Without meaning to sound flippant, the easiest way to make up with your neighbour is to not fall out in the first place, and in order to have a good relationship with them it helps if you know who they are.

“We’re less inclined to know our neighbours these days,” says Talbot, “so sometimes your first conversation with your neighbour is when you’ve got a dispute.” Even an occasional ‘hello’ in the driveway helps build some sort of rapport, which can give you invaluable credit when you need to raise an issue.

Not knowing your neighbour also means you’re less likely to pipe up when you first have a problem, which allows resentment to build and fester. Talbot says it’s the number one problem he encounters: “If you wait ’til you’re really annoyed, you can’t disguise your anger. The other person will then feel attacked and lash back, and that’s when things can go to a really bad place.”

So loving thy neighbour may be a big ask, but let’s start by at least knowing their name.

tricky neighbours

Mind your manners

When you do need to go knocking, pick an appropriate time, and, without meaning to patronise, play nice. “Don’t go round at 10 o’clock when you’ve had a can of something,” says Talbot, “and be prepared to take a conciliatory approach.”

If you’re really nervous, you could write your neighbour a note, or where appropriate go through their landlord – but it’s generally best to at least start with face-to-face communication.

“I always say listen first,” continues Talbot. “Speak to your neighbour and see what their take is – there’s often a good reason and you want to let them know you’re taking that into account before putting across your perspective. Collaborate with your neighbour to take on the problem, rather that taking on your neighbour ‘as’ the problem.”

Be particularly cautious when discussing the behaviour of unruly children, as even an implied slight on someone’s parenting will generally go down like a pint of warm beer.

“It complicates things massively,” says Talbot, “as you tend to get clashes of values. One neighbour might be happy to let their kids come home at two in the morning, while the other might be disturbed by the noise, but also by the values. When people start calling each other bad parents, it takes on a new dimension.”

You’re trying to come to a consensus, so however stuck-up/irresponsible you consider your neighbour to be, try to keep value judgements to yourself.

tricky neighbours

The letter of the law

We were going to run through the legal specs you might need for different situations, but it’s complex, scenario-specific, and generally not something you want to get involved in if you can help it. Talbot recalls one case in which mediation was called in after a two-year stretch of litigation, in which the two parties had already incurred £30,000 in legal fees apiece.

It also might not work. While informal methods like mediation emphasise compromise, in law there’s often a winner and a loser, and formal settlements will show on the deeds to your house as and when you decide to sell.

The courts are well aware of these difficulties, and sometimes won’t even hear the case unless forced. “These days, judges will ask: ‘How have you tried to resolve this?’ And they don’t want to hear you’ve gone straight to litigation. They’ve even sent cases away.”

If you do decide to explore your legal rights, don’t make the classic mistake of using Google. “Thanks to the internet, people selectively find articles that give them the version of their rights they want to hear,” says Talbot, “and interpret legislation for their own ends.” If people actually want to know their rights, says Talbot, speak to Citizens Advice, or book in a consultation with a lawyer.

Latest Property Event Kick Starts 2019

Whilst it is undoubtedly too early to comment on the market for 2019, at McCarthy Holden we felt it was worth letting you know that the usual seasonal spike in online activity in the run up to New year followed that of previous years.

Based at our Fleet Estate Agents branch, Associate Director Ben Murphy witnessed the success of our Boxing Day Live, with 18 new properties entering the market for sale and a further 9 properties all reduced in price.

According to data from Rightmove.co.uk, 25,147,701 properties were viewed on Boxing Day alone with activity still strong leading up to New Years Day.

“During the Christmas / New Year period we opened our doors for trading and secured 18 viewings, 5 valuations and two instructions.

Off-street activity was also high with new buyers registering looking for property. Not a bad result in 12 hours work” Comments Ben Murphy.

“Opening our door again yesterday saw activity at a good level, with this weekend filling up with viewings on a wide range of property. “

“Clients tend to think marketing before Spring is wrong but there are some fantastic advantages to marketing before the daffodils blossom. This is because there is usually less competition and therefore clients can hope to achieve a good price for their property. Furthermore, people tend to spend more time at home over the Christmas/winter period and begin to feel their home may be too small/too big and look into moving.”

So, if you are considering a move this year, now is a great time to get ahead of the competition by calling one of our property experts for free, no obligation, advice on how is best to market your home.
Contact one of our branches:
Estate agents in Fleet
Estate agents in Hartley Wintney
Estate agents in Odiham

Ben Murphy photo
Ben Murphy - Associate Director

The unknown, or a property market that bucks the Brexit fears?

estate agent sold board

The Market 2018

Let us start with 2018, which was peppered with challenging market conditions for residential property sales.

Because our trading year runs January to December we can report on the full picture for 2018, which may indicate the direction of travel for 2019.

Surprisingly, some branch productivity levels for house sale revenue was at or above 2017 levels, especially in the village locations. That outcome however doesn’t for one moment disguise the fact that during the first half of 2018 we saw one of the poorest levels of house sale transactions for some time, however, buyer positivity surfaced in the summer and remained reasonable through to December despite the increased chaos around Brexit.

When we say house sales were up in the second half of 2018, we are talking about house sale volumes not prices. Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake.

The rental market performed extremely well in 2018, with a notable uplift in activity for high end rentals outside of London, especially in our core area of operation on the Berkshire / Hampshire borders.

Properties taken to the rental market in the £7,000 to £10,000 p.c.m. sector frequently saw rental offers from multiple tenants. This was driven by high end house buyers deciding to pop into a property rental for the next year or so, using some of the stamp duty funds they would have allocated on a property purchase around £2.0m. or £3.0m., and then wait and see how property values shape up post Brexit.

house let
High end rental activity compensated for house sales

One certainty

One thing that is certain, is that uncertainty impacts on the property market especially around the times of a General Election or a Referendum. How this uncertainty works its way into tangible outcomes for 2019 is not straightforward and varies in different house price sectors of the property market.

In the short term, house buyers generally will be more cautious and slower in their decision making. This doesn’t mean house prices will fall, because buyer demand remains steady and employment levels are excellent. There is the prospect of a flat market in respect of property prices, however, discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. House sellers will sell successfully in the 2019 market, but they can’t expect a fancy or inflated price and must engage with the reality that over pricing will fail in a market where buyers are cautious.

Different sectors, different outcomes in 2019

Different market sectors will have different outcomes in the forthcoming months ahead. Buying decisions on property sales from around £250,000 to £1.5m. are mostly made by very localised factors such as schooling, access to work, general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings). Decisions around such matters of day to day life will continue to be made by house buyers against the backdrop of political uncertainty, so house sales will be maintained at the current level with price sensitivity being the watchword.

Further up the property price sector, and especially in the £2.0m. to £6.0m range house buyers will be more influenced by global and political factors so we could see further negative price impacts in this sector. Savvy top end buyers are playing a waiting game, but they are there on our books and will respond to excellent marketing and a competitive price strategy.

House sellers and buyers should approach 2019 with realistic expectations, engaging positively with the new beginnings for the country and house moving opportunities and, who knows, there might well be some pleasing outcomes to report at the end of 2019.

We wish you a happy Christmas and the very best for 2019.

 

John Holden – Chairman and Managing Director McCarty Holden

POST BREXIT IMAGE LEAP

House of Horrors at number 10 so what next for the house market

image of Mrs May behind doors

High drama and high stakes on the political and Brexit front have set the scene for more uncertainty, so how will this impact on the domestic residential property market?

With the imminent prospect of a challenge to Theresa May’s leadership, the resignation of Cabinet ministers including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, seemingly no prospect of the draft Brexit agreement being passed by Parliament and the increased likelihood of a harder Brexit, there is now in place a wide range of serious uncertainty factors rarely seen conspiring at around the same time. Furthermore, with Mrs Mays party in revolt and many of her colleagues departing we don’t know yet, if a General Election is also around the corner.

One certainty

One thing that is certain, is that uncertainty impacts on the property market especially around the times of a General Election or a Referendum. How this uncertainty works its way into tangible outcomes is not straightforward and varies in different house price sectors of the property market.

In the short term, house buyers generally will be more cautious and slower in their decision making, and the impact on prices will mean large house price gains are gone for a while. This doesn’t mean house prices will fall, because buyer demand remains steady and employment levels are excellent. There is the prospect of a flat market in respect of price rises, however discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. House sellers will sell successfully in today’s market, but they can’t expect a fancy or inflated price and must engage with the reality that over pricing will fail in a market where buyers are cautious.

Different sectors, different outcomes

Different market sectors will have different outcomes in the forthcoming months ahead. Buying decisions on property sales from around £250,000 to £1.5m. are mostly made by very localised factors such as schooling, access to work and general employment levels and family situations ranging from the three D’s (death, divorce and debt) through to the three N’s (new job, new baby, new beginnings). Decisions around such matters of day to day life will continue to be made by house buyers against the backdrop of political uncertainty, so house sales will be maintained at the current level with price sensitivity being the watchword.

Further up the property price sector, and especially in the £2.0m. to £6.0m range house buyers will be more influenced by global and political factors so we could see further negative price impacts in this sector. It’s perhaps no surprise that in 2018 we saw a significant uplift in house rentals in the £6,000 to £8,000 p.c.m. sector, driven by future potential house buyers who have decided to retreat into the luxury rental market and watch for when the top end house sales market starts to recover. Such recovery could be a year or so away, but one thing is for sure, all markets when they rebound from a low come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy top end buyers know this and are playing a waiting game, or taking care of business now by buying at extremely competitive levels.

Respond with investment, no time for the faint hearted

Check out what McCarthy Holden are doing to maximise selling and letting opportunities for clients between Christmas and New Year. If you would like and up to date market no obligation valuation, go to our home page and click in valuation.

The Christmas and New Year 2019 magazine In The Country & Town

Summer and Autumn Sold Rush For House Sales

sold board outside property

Will 2018 end well for house sales?

During the first six months of 2018 the level of house sales across the UK were running at a fairly poor level, but now the second half of 2018 is bouncing back with house sales on the up again.

Property sale agreed in Fleet by McCarthy Holden
A quick sale was recently agreed on this £1.85m. guided property in the Blue Triangle Fleet

When we say house sales are on the up, we are talking about house sale volumes not prices.

The market in residential sales remains very price sensitive, which is why discerning house buyers are seeing the current market conditions as an opportunity to move whilst prices remain static. The news for house sellers is that you can and will sell successfully in today’s market, but don’t expect a fancy or inflated price.

Large house price gains are gone for a while, but like all markets when they rebound from a low they come back with a sharp and fast uptake. Savvy buyers know this so are active in the market now.

Property sold in Odiham by McCarthy Holden
This cottage in Odiham was snapped up and exchanged when guided £850,000

A turning point this Summer and Autumn

Summer and Autumn trading results on house sales are showing high levels of properties going through to exchange of contracts and new sales being agreed quickly if the price and marketing combination is right.

Take this property below, which had offers within ten days of going to the market with professional video marketing and an eye catching price.

House sales exchanges have been increasing with examples across the price ranges, with the exception of the still soft £2.5 plus market which will no doubt catch up in due course.

There have been encouraging sales just under £2.0m. such as the example below.

Property sold in Finchampstead by McCarthy Holden
Sold (exchanged) just under £2.0m. in Finchampstead, Berkshire

Tragedy comedy or soft landing

We are of course reminded of the phrase All’s well that ends well, which is a title from a play by William Shakespeare, thought not to be neatly classified as tragedy or comedy. Lets hope for the residential house market its neither and 2018 ends well for house sales.

If you are looking ahead to a house sale in 2019, why not ask for a free no obligation valuation for McCarthy Holden.