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A potential neighbour from hell

(21 Posts)
GreenFrog33 Wed 13-Jun-18 19:56:06

Hi all,

DH and I are considering putting in an offer on a flat (we’re first time buyers) but have a couple of alarm bells ringing about the downstairs neighbour.

The house is two flats and we would be looking to buy the upstairs flat. They are both currently leasehold.
At the moment the rear garden is not physically divided but the lease apparently has half each (lengthwise) belonging to each flat.

We were told that the reason it’s not divided is that the downstairs owner only ever uses the area just outside her back door and so is happy for the upstairs neighbour (potentially us) to have free use of the rest of the garden.

When we finally got to view the garden there was broken furniture outside her back door and a very overgrown patch possibly covering a paved area?

We asked the vendor about this and she said she had never asked for the broken furniture to be removed but was sure the neighbour would be happy to do so maybe if offered help.

This seems odd to me, why has she been happy with broken furniture in her garden? The house is pretty sparse so I’m assuming she doesn’t live there full time.

Ideally we’d think about splitting the garden for some privacy, but then I’d be worried that the neighbour would not maintain her half at all.

Is this a deal breaker? Would appreciate your thoughts on this!

wowfudge Wed 13-Jun-18 23:16:52

My guess is that it's been let out and she doesn't live there or hasn't lived there for a while. Have a dig around on the internet - look for 'flat to rent x street'.

FrogFairy Thu 14-Jun-18 00:14:38

Perhaps the neighbour is ill, disabled or has no transport to take the broken furniture to the dump.

Rollercoaster1920 Thu 14-Jun-18 00:20:57

Knock on the downstairs flat to meet the person. Better now than after investing lots of money!

INeedNewShoes Thu 14-Jun-18 00:24:52

Knock on the downstairs flat to meet the person. Better now than after investing lots of money!

Definitely do this! I did this when house hunting and it helped me make decisions.

trixymalixy Thu 14-Jun-18 08:42:36

Having shared a garden in a similar situation I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole!

DownUdderer Thu 14-Jun-18 08:53:07

Try and meet the downstairs neighbor

Failingat40 Thu 14-Jun-18 09:00:31

Definitely knock the neighbour and just be friendly and chatty.

Say you're looking at moving into the area and want to find out a bit about the people and things to do.

If a stinky reek and 20 cats escape as she opens her door then you know to say you've got the wrong door and run for the hills grin

I would never buy anything shared, whether it be garden, driveway or access.

Even if the current owner/tenant is perfectly sane and reasonable it just take an idiot to move in and the whole thing turns into nightmare neighbours from hell.

Badoukas Thu 14-Jun-18 09:01:32

Meet the neighbour. If this property is the only option for you, do your homework until you reach a decision.

Personally I'd rather go for a freehold house than a leasehold flat but I realise that is not always possible.

GreenFrog33 Thu 14-Jun-18 09:43:53

Thanks everyone, we’ll definitely take your advice and pop in to see the neighbour at the weekend.

FrogFairy - you’re right, she could just need a hand clearing stuff which we’d be more than happy to do.

Wowfudge - I think you might be right, it’s so sparse and yet has three made up double beds 🤔 Airbnb perhaps

What happened trixymalixy?!!

Failingat40 - I take your point about buying shared but we’re buying in London so a house might be out of our reach.
That said, if we did just put a fence up down the middle of the garden it wouldn’t be too different to anyone in a semi-detached house. Short of a detached house in the middle of nowhere anyone could end up with neighbours from hell I guess!

bearbehind Thu 14-Jun-18 10:36:43

I wouldn't think too much about this particular neighbour, more the fact that anyone might live there in the future.

If you divided the garden, can both parties still access it without going on the other party's 'side'.

Personally I wouldn't touch anything 'shared' with a barge pole. It's too much of an unknown what might happen in the future.

WhereIsBlueRabbit Thu 14-Jun-18 20:57:11

Shared gardens can be massively problematic. It wouldn't surprise me if the vendor simply hasn't been able to face tackling it due to not wanting to have to declare a dispute upon selling, iyswim.

We used to own a flat with a shared garden which was small enough for physical division not to be practical. Never again! We had no end of problems with the downstairs flat - ranged from barbecuing under our windows to them putting up an eight foot diameter trampoline in it which took up most of the lawn.angry

Also, there is the issue of maintenance, and access if you're in the upstairs flat. I can't tell you what a pain in the arse it is hauling compost and garden waste up and down flights of stairs.

I would strongly recommend that if outside space is important for you, you find a flat where you have exclusive access to the garden, or where the shared garden is formally divided.

Definitely do not consider an offer without meeting the vendor!

WhereIsBlueRabbit Thu 14-Jun-18 20:57:42

Sorry, I meant without meeting the downstairs neighbour, not the vendor!

Makemineboozefree Thu 14-Jun-18 21:05:31

See if she'll agree to splitting the garden. We did that in a flat with a shared garden and it was bliss!

GreenFrog33 Thu 14-Jun-18 21:55:50

Bearbehind - if we split it down the middle then neither of us would have to go on the others share of the garden so could potentially be “blissful”

Makemineboozefree - do you think she’d have to agree? We’d obviously ask as a courtesy but surely we could just put a fence up seeing as the land is already divided on the leases?

Slightlyperturbedowlagain Thu 14-Jun-18 21:58:46

I think you could just erect a fence if it’s clearly shown, but it would be sensible to explain to the neighbour beforehand. You could discuss it before buying and see what they say? Then if they start being difficult you can walk away.

MessySurfaces Thu 14-Jun-18 23:28:56

If it's an unattended Air b&b then you have a bigger problem!
It's a big clue that downstairs is owned by a landlord who puts profit way above neighbourliness, and you will have new people coming and going all the blinking time.

LapdanceShoeshine Thu 14-Jun-18 23:36:42

I read it that the 3 double beds are in the upstairs flat OP is looking to buy?

catandpanda Fri 15-Jun-18 00:01:09

I would knock and see who owns it, could be they just can't be bothered to do the garden and don't really use it. It could be they would agree to split the bill on a gardener once a week or similar.

GreenFrog33 Fri 15-Jun-18 09:20:47

Yes that’s right Lapdance it’s the flat we’re interested in buying that looks like it’s not really lived in.
That said, it’s chain free so the vendor could have just already moved in to a new place or in with a partner so maybe nothing sinister at all (it’s easy to get paranoid when we’re talking about nearly £500,000!!)

We’re off to view it for a second time tomorrow so we’ll go and say hello to the neighbour and see what happens. Wish us luck!!

Makemineboozefree Fri 15-Jun-18 10:34:40

If it's in the lease, then technically no you don't need to ask her. But for the sake of neighbourly relations going forward, just saying that if you went ahead with the purchase that's what you'd like to do. If she says no outright, you can get the freeholder to enforce the lease.

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