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WWYD? garden of house next to one we're buying is full of junk

(23 Posts)
moBou Mon 22-Aug-11 15:10:14

We've been house hunting for many months and finally found one that both me and DH like (thought it was never going to happen) - rundown but full of potential. However, the house next door is even more rundown, overgrown front garden, broken window stuffed with clothes, and clothes and furniture and god knows what else lying down the side of the house and in the back garden.

The EA told us that a reclusive old lady lives in it and that the council has told her to clear out the junk in the garden. I contacted the council to see what was happening but they wouldn't tell me anything. The owner of our potential new house died and it's being sold by her children who don't live nearby, so apparently they can't tell me anything either.

I know we should probably walk away, but we're excited about creating a great home from the unloved house. DH says we should just put a big wall up between the 2 houses. We're going to try to speak to the neighbours on the other side to see what they know but just wondered what others would do in this situation. So do we go ahead and hope the house next door gets sorted out by the council or walk away and keep looking?

narmada Mon 22-Aug-11 15:24:49

Definitely, definitely speak to the neighbours. She could just be reclusive and untidy, but she could also be two sandwiches short of a picnic and a neighbour from hell.

DilysPrice Mon 22-Aug-11 15:27:50

Errrm, exactly how old is she? blush

moBou Mon 22-Aug-11 15:43:19

No idea. EA just said 'old lady'. That could be anything from late 60s on, so we can't just hope she goes to a home or dies soon (don't want to sound heartless, but that's kind of what the EA was hinting at)

minipie Mon 22-Aug-11 15:47:35

Hmmm. Tricky.

I wouldn't rely on the council making her clear up the junk TBH, unless it's a very proactive council. I think you'd have to assume worst case scenario is it stays like that - are you happy living next door?

Other things to consider:

1) ask the other neighbours if there are any problems

2) as the council (and maybe police?) if they have any records of neighbour disputes (explain that your sellers didn't live there so don't know)

3) get the world's most thorough survey - maintenance issues on her side may well be affecting "your" house too. For example we're having to replace floor joists due to a slow water leak from our next door house which nobody repaired.

4) bear in mind that at some point she might sell (or, erm, die) and new owners will move in - they are likely to do building work so you will be next to a building site for a while.

ninedragons Mon 22-Aug-11 15:49:08

Is your potential house freestanding? Simply for fire safety and vermin reasons I wouldn't consider a shared roof space.

But yes, I agree, speak to the neighbours.

moBou Mon 22-Aug-11 16:14:17

The houses aren't joined, luckily. There's a driveway on our side and a bit of a side garden (filled with junk) on hers. According to the deeds we can have a 5ft high wall and DH is of the opinion that good walls make good neighbours.

We were wondering if the council could make her clear up, or come and do it if she doesn't/can't, for environmental health reasons.

AgentProvocateur Mon 22-Aug-11 16:21:36

My Dsis is in a similar situation, except her old lady neighbour is in a home and has been for years. In the meantime, the garden has got more and more overgrown and there are rats there too. The house is crammed with "stuff" and is slowly deteriorating fabric-wise. She called the council, but they won't do anything unless it's actually dangerous (the OL's house is detached) to other people, and the bits of the house that are in danger of collapse are to the back, and would collapse into her (OL's) garden, so no danger to the public.

I think that if you can definitely build a wall, then I would consider buying the house. You may need to check whether the builders would need to access her garden to build the wall, and if so, whether she would allow it.

minipie Mon 22-Aug-11 16:29:26

I think the council can enforce a clear up if her place is a health hazard (eg danger to passers by or vermin breeding ground) but not if it's just unsightly.

I think it's less of an issue if it's detached from hers. It comes down to how much you mind living next to an eyesore.

lalalonglegs Mon 22-Aug-11 18:53:18

I think it is very unlikely that the council are going to force the "old lady" to tidy up. As others have said, talk to neighbours about situation. You could try speaking to her - knocking on door and seeing what she is like: some innocuous question about thinking of moving next door and you wondered x, y or z about the street - you might be able to gauge if she is mad old woman who is crabby and will be a pita to live next to or simply one that is struggling to cope on her own and whom might appreciate a bit of help clearing her garden and having her broken windows replaced wink.

gailpottertilsleyplatt Mon 22-Aug-11 20:02:05

I'd look for another house to buy.

MatthewWrightOffTheTelly Mon 22-Aug-11 20:07:10

I would assume worst case scenario ie that the neighbouring property stays exactly as it is, or even gets slightly worse.

Could you live with it? (With wall if/until you have the funds to do that - won't be overly cheap).

Might it smell or be otherwise dangerous?

Are you prepared to struggle to sell the property in a few years for that reason?

QuintessentialShadow Mon 22-Aug-11 20:14:52

We moved into a house like that.

Both end of terraces, around a "L shape", with shared front garden, and access path in the middle.

The heaps of junk have grown. The single divorced man moved out a month after us, and the council placed another similar tenant. Imagine what it cost for a council to clear something like that up? Most likely they will show it as it is to the next tenant on the waiting list, and you can imagine for yourself just what sort of person would be ok with the heap of junk. Somebody who wants to add to it. Or somebody like our neighbour who got paid for taking on other peoples junk....

So, walk away.

moBou Mon 22-Aug-11 21:17:38

Thanks for all your opinions. I think it's all going to hinge on speaking to the other neighbours. If they've had a bad experience with this neighbour, then we've got to walk away, no matter how much we like the house. I knew that was the case really, but just didn't want to admit it sad

HansieMom Mon 22-Aug-11 23:58:55

I would not buy. You would face rats, smells, danger (broken glass, leaking vats), weed seeds blowing over, and a visual eyesore. Why do that to yourself?

Gonzo33 Tue 23-Aug-11 07:06:54

I looked at a house once that was lovely. Then we looked out of the back bedroom window and saw that the next door neighbours back garden was covered in dog poo (it was a 50ft garden minimum). We walked away.

seasidesister Tue 23-Aug-11 13:38:33

I wouldnt consider this. Sounds like a total headache to me.

ChippyMinton Tue 23-Aug-11 13:46:54

I would walk away. There are a couple of houses near here where the junk is clearly visible on google earth. Although the owners are lovely, they definately have issues with collecting/hoarding and I can't see the situation ever changing.

Thepoweroforangeknickers Tue 23-Aug-11 14:15:20

Walk. It'll just upset you living next door to that mess.

gettingeasier Tue 23-Aug-11 15:30:50

Well if you have been looking for a while and really likethis house then I would put up a fight before giving up

Call at all houses within sight of this one and be as charming as possible to find out as much as you can about the occupant and if indeed it is an old lady

Find out council procedure in this situation without referring to the exact address to see if you can dig up a bit more

I do agree with all the posts listing concerns but as I know when you have been looking for ages you can get desperate

ps have you tried calling at the house and speaking to the occupant yourself ?

moBou Tue 23-Aug-11 18:44:08

I haven't spoken to the owner because I didn't know what to say. 'Do you have any plans to clear out the disgusting junk in your garden?'

But we'll definitely go this weekend and speak to the other neighbours before we decide to give up on it

MyAngels Thu 25-Aug-11 11:07:34

Just wanted to say that we are in a similar situation - we are in the process of buying our "forever" house which is in a great location, except that the house next door is owned by a local "eccentric" and is in a right state (ie covered in scaffolding, full of stuff etc).

We have accepted there will be some issues with living next to it (eyesore, unpredictability) but the overall location and opportunity is too good to miss. We used the situation to get a good price, spoken to the locals and the current owners of the house we are buying and done research on his planning applications for building work at the council. He is getting frail but the unpredictablity could go on, but the pros outweigh the cons in our view. He didn't put off his other next door neighbours doing a lovely extension and renovation on their house either.

I just thought I'd add that an unpredictable situation like you describe doesn't always put people off. We may (will?) have hassle in the years to come (hopefully not huge amounts), but the location and ambiance of the inside of the house is worth it to us.

All the best

moBou Thu 25-Aug-11 13:43:11

MyAngels, thanks for that, it's quite reassuring.

If the sale falls through now it probably won't be because of the neighbour (found out the house hasn't always been a mess, it's only recent), but because the vendors won't renegotiate over issues the survey brought up. This house has been such a huge headache I'm almost tempted to just stay renting!

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