Help we've moved but seller has not disclosed neighbour dispute

(110 Posts)
wondermum1 Tue 03-Jun-14 20:53:53

Hi, Feeling sick as I write this, been up for nights and think am going to go towards a breakdown. Finally bought a great house in a good area and refurbished it (£50k worth of refurb), house does genuinely look beautiful. Next door house is in a complete state and since we've been here (6 months) no one has cut or tended to garden, grass now waist high and apparently (according to neighbour otherside) now rats. Despite notes through neighbours door even offering to pay for a gardener getting negative response. Turns out she has been a nuisance neighbour for over 20 years and everyone "hates" her. When we saw the house, previous owner was apparently dealing with garden to make it look more attractive as state of house was preventing sale. When we saw it, the neighbouring house looked "ok" not great but passable and we were told was owned by an old lady who had 2 carers (not true, no old lady just two women). Am at wits end, do I sue previous owner? If I do and I sell my house do I need to disclose as well? How do I deal with the neighbour? I'm so desperate want to put house straight on market but husband says we can't do that. ;((((((( HELP!

burnishedsilver Tue 03-Jun-14 21:00:39

Has anyone tried contacting the local council about public health concerns ie. the rats?

Littlefish Tue 03-Jun-14 21:02:12

If the garden is full of rubbish, and that is attracting rats, then phone the local authority environmental health team.

Other than the house and garden being a mess, in what other ways are these ladies a "nuisance"?

Iamfree Tue 03-Jun-14 21:05:49

First of all, contact the council. Secondly, you can actually sue the vendor if you can prove that she knew about the issue (please note: it is not only if she reported the neighbour to social/services etc, the important thing is that you can prove that she knew).

Did you ask about the neighbour via your solicitor?

You could also send a letter to the neighbour via your solicitor for the tort of nuisance.

So, plenty of things you can do. remember if you decide to use, it will be very expensive.

But please don't get discouraged, there is a lot you can do.

Just pm me if you want more info, I absolutely hate inconsiderate neighbours.

HarrietSchulenberg Tue 03-Jun-14 21:06:33

Unless there was actually a proper dispute between the sellers and the neighbours, involving police and/or litigation, there's nothing you can do. You don't have to declare "nuisance" neighbours, just ones you've had an actual legal dispute with.

The sellers might actually have loved her and not seen her as a nuisance at all!

Contact the local council if there's a rat problem, but otherwise you can't complain because someone's garden isn't up to your standards. You could always think of it as a nature reserve smile.

GrendelsMinim Tue 03-Jun-14 21:07:30

I don't think that this is technically a dispute, is it? It's a problem, but a dispute with neighbours is a technical term. So you can't sue the previous owners, and you don't need to disclose anything to new buyers.

Anyway, as the others have said, if you genuinely think there is a public health issue, then you should ohone Environmental Health. But I don't think there's any law to say you have to cut your lawn (I don't).

Could you simply put up a high fence between your gardens?

wondermum1 Tue 03-Jun-14 21:07:34

Hi, Environmental health coming tomorrow. Apparently (according to other neighbours) anti social late night behaviour, rubbish being dumped outside (but we haven't seen this) and there is an untaxed vehicle dumped in the driveway. Problem is that they won't do the garden at all even though we have offered to do it for free! Does anyone know about whether we can contact previous owner to sue? Would you sue or just leave it and hope that in a few years we can sell and move on?

Iamfree Tue 03-Jun-14 21:08:19

Harriet, what you are saying is not correct. even if the vendor never complained to the council, she should have disclosed anyway. Please read the exact questions in the SPIF.

It asks something like "are you aware of anything which MIGHT cause a dispute?"

I am happy to send some case studies...

You 're heading for a breakdown and want to sue because your neighbour hasn't mown her lawn?

Eh? confused

Can you elaborate on the 'nightmare' part?

Who gives a fuck about grass?

I'm quite sure you're not heading for a breakdown over an untended garden so can you tell us what's going on?

HarrietSchulenberg Tue 03-Jun-14 21:09:35

"If you’re asked by a prospective buyer about any problems you may have encountered with your neighbours when you're selling a house, it’s advisable to stick to issues that might have a marked effect on the relationship between the buyer and your neighbours if they were to go through with the purchase. Obvious examples might include disputes over land or shared house maintenance, a Dispute Over Boundary Lines or there may be some Disagreement Over The Height Of A Hedge. "
From here

An untidy garden is subjective and the alleged rats have only recently arrived, according to your other neighbour.

Cross posted

You haven't seen any anti social behaviour though

I would:

Not give a toss about grass

Not give a toss about an untaxed car as it's probably legally Sorned

I would only give a toss if an actual problem happened like anti social noise

GrendelsMinim Tue 03-Jun-14 21:11:57

An untaxed car on the drive is fine - they just need a SORN and to keep it on the drive, not on the road. You could shop them for not having a SORN, I suppose.

Iamfree Tue 03-Jun-14 21:12:03

hi wondermum1, where are you based? Contact Russell Cooke or Any other litigation solicitor (look here http://www.legal500.com/c/london/real-estate/property-litigation) and see what they say.

would a neighbour be happy with providing a witness statement that your vendor KNEW (not that he/she complained) about the problem?

wondermum1 Tue 03-Jun-14 21:12:22

Thanks all. My lawyer said to me today that the previous owner should have reported a dispute with the neighbour even something like having to mow their lawn as it was unmanageable. I am just worried that if we did go down the sue route it means when we come to sell we absolutely would have to disclose. I am looking into planting tall hedging between our driveways (which are joined) houses are actually detached. Thank you all.

Iamfree thanks for your comments. Out of interest - if we wanted to get a letter penned by a solicitor anyone got an idea of cost?

I did forget to give a vital point, they do not own the house, they are tenants. I have found owner's details on land registry but need to verify they still live at the address stated, so technically I can send a letter to freeholders asking them to do something about vermin and garden. Every house in the road has a clause in the lease saying houses and gardens must be kept nicely (!) I kid you not.

This is ridiculous.

You are the nuisance neighbour, by the sounds of it.

wondermum1 Tue 03-Jun-14 21:15:53

All the neighbours here have had trouble over the past 15 years with these people so it's not just me. I am actually upset about the state of the garden, whether or not this is laughable to some of you guys is obviously personal but we saved for years to move to a notoriously good area and I didn't really want to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to live next to a dump! TBH. I have young kids and vermin is unhygienic and a hazard, I'm sure you all understand that.

Iamfree I am in London but thanks I will contact them tomorrow and see if they can help pen a letter, I just want someone to take responsibility as clearly they won't allow us to. Frankly if someone offered to tend my property for free I'd jump on it.

It's the non disclosure which really bothers me

wondermum1 Tue 03-Jun-14 21:16:51

Oh and vehicle is not SORN

Iamfree Tue 03-Jun-14 21:16:55

hi wondermum1, I would think about £1000 for a good letter. The thing is then you need a surveyor to determine the diminution in value due to the neighbours.

The good news is that the ladies are tenants, how long have they been there? If you have the name of the owner (but not the address), Google, then look at 192.com.

If the owner's address is the same as the property it might mean that he has not declared to hmrc that he is renting the property. Just one thing to keep in mind if he is not proactive...

HarrietSchulenberg Tue 03-Jun-14 21:20:06

I'd go down the "find the landlord" and plant a hedge routes, then. TBH pursuing the vendors through the courts is likely to be protracted and unsuccessful. All the vendor has to do is to say that she wasn't that bothered about the garden as it was only a bit untidy when she sold the house 6 months ago. Very difficult for a witness to prove that the vendor knew there was a problem, and the whole thing would just be an exercise for solicitors to demand pots of cash for doing very little.

Good luck!

noddyholder Tue 03-Jun-14 21:20:07

Was the dispute logged anywhere?

wondermum1 Tue 03-Jun-14 21:23:54

Iamfree thank you. I never thought about not declaring to HMRC. No it's not the same address but I do know that the property has no mortgage on it. I think the ladies have been there in excess of 15 to 20 years. The guy before me was (in another neighbour's words) "desperate to sell" due to the nightmare that they were. Maybe I am over-reacting but you know, when you do spend years saving for something and look forward to it so much you desperately want it to work and all of a sudden it isn't and I am gutted. Yes I am bothered about the grass, the vermin but really, be totally honest, (aimed at others on the thread) if you were about to spend what was to you, a small fortune, on a nice house and you saw a dump next door I bet you that you wouldn't proceed. The major issue is that this was disguised from us. And if you would proceed then I guess I don't have a problem or we all have different standards!

Iamfree Tue 03-Jun-14 21:25:25

but surely, the fact that the vendor tidied up the neighbours property means that she knew it was a problem. she surely must not have thought that the garden was"appealing". And if there are rats now there might have been rats in the past.

Wondermum1, please listen to the solicitors, not to the advice on mumsnet, which is not always accurate from a legal point of view.

wondermum1 Tue 03-Jun-14 21:26:16

Thanks all, Harriet that does make sense. I would say the same if I was the seller, however, other neighbours round here would happily vouch as they say but I am also unsure I want to sue. Anyone know if there is such a thing as no win no fee solicitors who deal with undisclosed disputes?!

wondermum1 Tue 03-Jun-14 21:27:50

Thanks Iamfree, I know he was hiding something and makes a lot of sense now as every time we wanted to come down to the property during the process of exchange there was always an issue and we were prevented unless was on his terms (i.e., he had mowed the neighbour's lawn). Ugh. Another sleepless night

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