To Sell Thy Neighbour


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Love thy neighbour as thyself – Mark 12:31.


Easy for him to say, Jesus never had to put up with Skrillex played through a 100-watt amp at 4am.

 

            Whether it’s burning rubbish at the bottom of the garden or practising plate spinning at 2 in the morning, inconsiderate neighbours make life about as much fun as amateur naval piercing and they aren’t doing your insurance premiums much good either.

Image source: www.vanburen.org.uk

                       

 

          Image source: www.mooseyscountrygarden.com

 

Maintaining a home is already a fairly stressful proposition before even considering the Addams family you’ve got living next door. In a recent survey conducted by comparison website MoneySuperMarket.com, it found one in ten home-owners in the UK had made home insurance claims because of their neighbours. On average, a claim like this will add £50 to the standard home insurance premium. Projecting forward on that one in ten, affected home-owners across the country stand to lose £157 million thanks to their next-door neer-do-wells. It’s not all bad though; there’s always moving right?

Image source: www.theguardian.com 


            Selling a house is like solving a Rubik’s Cube whilst wearing oven gloves: difficult even in good weather. But selling a house means also selling the neighbours, something that 12% of UK householders already admit will negatively affect the price of their home. Ten years ago, this was an even bigger problem due to the Sellers Information Form, part of the Home Information Pack, a set of Government documents compelling sellers to disclose certain information regarding the property being sold. They have since been repealed, but not soon enough to save Sophie Duffy.

 

            In 2004, Miss Duffy, a 35 year-old marketing manager, bought her first house in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Janet Musgrave, the previous owner, described her neighbour as quiet as a mouse. The Sellers Information Form has a number of questions including: Do you know of any dispute or anything which might lead to a dispute involving this or any neighbouring property? Mrs Musgrave wrote “No”.  Miss Duffy soon discovered this was not the case. Not long after moving in, Miss Duffy’s new neighbour, Kevin Mack, made his presence known, banging on the walls and shouting obscenities until the early hours of the morning. On the one occasion Miss Duffy decided to bang on the wall back, he came round and tried to kick her door down.

Image source: www.dailymail.co.uk 



            As such, Miss Duffy took Mrs Musgrave to court, claiming misrepresentation. After having an independent valuation, it was concluded that Mrs Musgrave would’ve lost £50,000 had she disclosed the truth about Mr Mack. With interest, Miss Duffy’s claim came to £59,000. However, the court found Mrs Musgrave innocent. Judge Andrew Rutherford ruled that Mr Mack’s anti-social behaviour was infrequent and not ongoing and that Mrs Musgrave was not compelled to disclose it. Mrs Musgrave felt she didn’t deserve to be penalised for someone else’s actions and rightly so, but nor should the buck be passed to the next owners.

 


“Good fences make good neighbours”, writes Robert Frost. But what Frost tinged with irony, I now advise whole-heartedly to anyone with Gomez and Morticia living next door.

 

Are nightmare neighbours putting off your prospective buyers?

 

Joe Castle




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