Selling a house when neighbour disputes need to be declared (HMO)

(22 Posts)
AGreatEscape Fri 26-Jun-20 12:22:52

Pretty much what it says in the title - I’m looking for advice and experience from people who’ve had to sell a property where neighbour disputes will need to be declared.

My situation is that I bought a house in what is a nice, sought after road (the house and the area were a big step up from where we were) but didn’t realise next door (the other half of the semi) was a house of multiple occupancy. I mention the nice area because HMOs aren’t the norm here - which is why I never thought to look into it when I was told next door was rented, and why I think we’ll have a hard time selling even without the disputes since other options are available!

We had one bad tenant straight off (drugs, basically) and got the council involved. They were evicted. All great for a year and then we had two noisy tenants. Council involved again. All issues were dealt with and the tenants in question are long gone (last one evicted a year ago now), but the nature of the property means this isn’t really over in the same way it might be if you had a problematic family that moved away.

The house is lovely and has many strong points. It's actually generally quieter than living next door to a family and I don’t want to move, but anxiety about who’s coming next won’t go away. I also think I'm just done with party walks!

So. Has anyone else dealt with this situation? What did you do? How did the sale go? To what extent did it affect the value of your property? Is it a good idea to let estate agents know there is an issue to declare? And advice would be fantastic!

OP’s posts: |
AGreatEscape Fri 26-Jun-20 12:23:50

Party walls!

OP’s posts: |
Bluntness100 Fri 26-Jun-20 12:27:04

You have to legally declare it yes, and yes it could put buyers off. It would me. I’m sorry.

AGreatEscape Fri 26-Jun-20 12:32:46

Thanks for the reply. Yes, sadly there is no question about declaring. And I'd be put off too. However, I do know that people do manage to move out of difficult houses, so I guess I'm looking for survivors' tales.

OP’s posts: |
Aknifewith16blades Fri 26-Jun-20 12:34:19

The other way of looking at it is that if there are any issues with neighbours, there is a mechanism to get it sorted. Frame it as 'generally quiet, and when there are issues the Council intervenes'?

I'd mention it to the Estate Agents, but no house is perfect.

Ifailed Fri 26-Jun-20 12:40:25

This something you have to declare on the TA6 form, two questions in particular:

Have there been any disputes or complaints
regarding this property or a property nearby?
If Yes, please give details:

Is the seller aware of anything which might lead to
a dispute about the property or a property nearby?
If Yes, please give details:

Salome61 Fri 26-Jun-20 13:30:30

Write it factually and positively. I had to declare a dispute with our neighbour over access to their land to investigate our septic tank soakaway pipe. We had to go to a solicitor in the end, he had damaged it when he had his driveway regravelled. I phrased the declaration describing the problem, that an amicable solution was reached (we had to get someone to hand dig the pipe out) and a good relationship with the neighbour maintained.

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Flittingabout Fri 26-Jun-20 13:49:24

Generally speaking I imagine issues with neighbours are red flags.

It wouldn't put me off if an issue had been settled or if the neighbours were very old or if I wasn't going to be staying too long.

FedUpAtHomeTroels Fri 26-Jun-20 13:53:32

Surely if the people you had a dispute with have moved on, then the renters there now have no dispute with you or you with them?
I'd ask the EA, say that the people who lived there were the ones you had a problem with but they moved. Declare it as previous residents of the house not current residents.

TW2013 Fri 26-Jun-20 14:13:45

I would say that you have had no problems with the current neighbours. For all you know the landlord might have changed the agent, the type of tenants they ask for etc. If you feel that you want to say something then say that although the previous occupants were noisy the moved out in 2019 and there have been no problems since.

cabbageking Fri 26-Jun-20 14:18:10

‘Disputes and complaints.’ This requires the seller to disclose any disputes, complaints or issues that might lead to a dispute in relation to the property being sold or a nearby property.

You declare any thing that could lead to a complaint but as the neighbours have moved it is done with.

PastMyBestBeforeDate Fri 26-Jun-20 14:19:41

We sold with a problem. Not of our making. We fully disclosed to the buyers and did take a financial hit. Not a huge one but enough to be annoying.

WombatChocolate Fri 26-Jun-20 16:09:57

I don't think I would tell estate agent.
I would mention it of course on the Form that requires it.
'Problem with previous occupier......brief detail....resolved by involvement of council. No problems with current occupier'

It is important to make clear that the people you had difficulty with have gone. You are not responsible for future neighbours that might move in.

Any buyers can seek further clarification if they want to, which you must answer honestly. If they ask if next door is rented you must say and if they ask if it is an HMO you must say. As you found when buying yourself, this info was not disclosed because you did not ask.

Hopefully if asked, you will be able to say relations with cureent neighbours are positive.

The sooner you move the better, because further bad tenants might move in. It is in your favour that the bad ones have gone and so you can honestly present the difficulties as being in the past and not current.

In this circumstance, I think you might find its not too much of a hinderance. The real nightmare is when people who own the neighbouring property are terrible and likely to live there forever. At least your bad neighbours were renters and moved on.

WombatChocolate Fri 26-Jun-20 16:21:45

I don't think there is anything to declare under things which could cause problems in future. Your issues have been in the past. The Q about future problems relate to things like you know your neighbour will be starting a noisy building project in a months time. It is for situations you KNOW are coming.

Both Qs are asked, because sometimes people are currently in a dispute/have a problem (1st Q) and sometimes they know a problem is coming but it hasn't happened yet (often related to building works etc) and sometimes people try to move fast whilst knowing about a coming issue, hoping to not disclose it...but this means they are responsible for declaring it. The 2nd Q does not require you to identify every possible negative thing that could happen in future, when a specific concern hasn't yet arisen. In your case, if current neighbours are okay, it is reasonable to assume that will remain. Anyone can face bad neighbours in future....some areas have this as a more likely issue than others, but the Q does not require you to predict the future.

When I buy properties I always ask if next door is rented. If it is, I would ask if it were an HMO. It would put me off. However, lots of people won't ask.

With these things, always be scrupulously honest on the paperwork. However, there is no need to verbally tell the estate agent nor the seller about every possible downside....you won't mention that the road can be noisy (unless asked) or that some children 3 doors down play loudly in the garden, or that the people over the road have barbeques that make your washing smell. You won't point out that the local councils bin collectors aren't great or have taken years to fix the potholes in the road.

Perhaps the HMO thing has has become a huger thing in your mind than it really is. So just be factual and honest when asked seocific questions and you will have done what is required.

AGreatEscape Fri 26-Jun-20 16:22:44

Thanks all for the comments. I'm a huge worrier, and was focusing very much on what I saw as an insurmountable problem. It is true the bad tenants have gone and the majority of people who move in next door are at least as quiet as other neighbours we've had. Also, I'm aware of other more obvious HMOs next to houses much nicer than ours in our town so there are obviously buyers not put off by them.

I will be factual and positive.

And if that doesn't work, perhaps I'll end up becoming an HMO landlord myself!

OP’s posts: |
mumsy27 Fri 26-Jun-20 23:58:26

I'm afraid you have to declare it, the question is about properties nearby not previous neighbours.
HMO might need to be declared as question shown(might lead)

"Is the seller aware of anything which might lead to
a dispute about the property or a property nearby?
If Yes, please give details:"

Georgielovespie Sat 27-Jun-20 09:10:54

Line up your conveyancing solicitor now before you move and ask them. I would take their advice on the whole "Have there been any disputes or complaints?" and whether it applies to previous tenants or not.

We did the above as we actually had the same neighbour next to us. The issue was resolved years earlier but they were still there.

We did declare it obviously but sold to an investment buyer who had other rental properties.

WombatChocolate Sat 27-Jun-20 09:51:40

I don't think though, in response to the Q about being aware of issues which might lead to a future dispute, that the property being an HMO is an issue which needs declaring. Being an HMO in itself isn't a problem. There is no need to declare a property is rented or rented as an HMO under that Q. If there is a separate Q about neighbouring properties being rented,not hen of course you have to declare i, but I've never seen it asked in Forms. As I mentioned, I always ask.

awareness of future possible problems is very much about sellers being aware of building works in the pipeline etc, which aren't yet visible to the potential purchaser when they view, or knowledge about things like a school being built nearby or incinerator or big road works. Most of these will come up in the searches anyway, but the Q is to ensure anything happening now or happening shortly but not yet visible is covered. It is not a Q where you have to identify every possible future risk which just might occur. Future tenants are unknown. It is unknown if the property will remain an HMO,mid it will continue to be rented or if future occupants will be the owners or renters and if they will. Wood, bad or indifferent. You do not have to speculate about these unknowns.

The big positive is you don't currently have bad neighbours. Any previous issues were dealt with and thenpeople no longer there.

Yes, to asking solicitor if the past issues need mentioning. Fine if they do...but as mentioned above, you express it factually and that issued was in past and current occupants have not been a problem.

A sensible buyer would see the mention of previous issues and enquire further about if the property is rented and then probably move to asking if it's a HMO (or their solicitor would go in that direction).....but it is up to them to ask that. It is still a positive that currently there are no issues and will appear very differently to a buyer on that basis.

You must be honest and answer questions accurately. You are free to express information in a positive way. You do not have to identify every possible little potential downside of the property, only things which you have knowledge of. If asked further questions, you must of course be entirely honest.

When buying houses, it all comes down to Buyer Beware. The seller will not mention that one of their radiators does not work very well. They will not mention that the parking in the street is a nightmare. It is up to the buyer to do due diligence and find out what they need to know. Some standard Qs from the solicitor help with part of that. Surveys which are optional can often reveal some info too. Searches reveal more. But it is incumbent on the buyer not the seller to check about any info they wish to know about. The seller should be scrupulously honest in answering everything (don't want a later legal case) and it's morally the right thing of course. However again, you can think carefully about how you word replies and there is often a way to be honest and present a more positive take and also to simply give info which answers the Q rather than goes well beyond what is required to your own detriment.

AGreatEscape Sun 28-Jun-20 09:44:35

Thanks a lot for the considered advice and comments - I really needed an outside perspective on this. I tend to agree with the view that, while this does need to be disclosed, it isn't really a future problem.

What I'm not so sure about is whether or not to advise estate agents up front. The positive is that I'd hopefully get a far more realistic idea of the value and the best way to sell, but I am concerned somehow that any disclosure would leak.

The house next door is much more obviously an HMO than it was when we moved in (there weren't enough bins per resident before - there certainly are now!) so I'm somewhat hoping that anyone who simply won't consider living next door to one won't proceed with a viewing or make an offer in the first place. I am worried about this only coming to light some time into the process and having repeat buyers drop out! I remember viewing a house myself once where the EA advised us about half way through the viewing that there was a neighbour dispute that had scuppered the first sale so they were advising everyone up front. That house sold quite quickly after that.

OP’s posts: |
WombatChocolate Sun 28-Jun-20 14:01:29

Well, what about asking EAs to mention to people viewing that next door is a rented property.

I definitely wouldn’t raise previous issues until paperwork from buyers solicitor.

Personally I wouldn’t mention to EA that it is rented or an HMO. It isn’t a factor that lots of people are concerned about. Those viewing can enquire if the sight of it is a concern to them. Some might enquire and some might not be remotely interested. Don’t make it into an issue in advance when for lots of people it won’t be.

Ltc2020 Sun 06-Sep-20 20:54:37

Omg AGreatEscape. We are in almost identical positions. I basically find myself in your position too. A neighbouring property is an HMO and while I asked when I bought who the neighbours were etc. I was told downstairs was 'rented' which is true but little did I know it is an HMO. They also didn't have bins or anything from outside that would tell you that it was. I did not sue previous owners because as people have said here, just because an HMO exists does not mean it will pose a problem. I also have had problems with tenants (drugs also) but they have also moved on and current ones fine.

I personally won't be declaring anything I don't have to. E.G. dispute over noise with neighbour resolved in 2019. HMO registers are public so if people want to find that out they can, and if they ask me directly I will answer, but I certainly won't be answering under 'problems with property' that downstairs is an HMO because it isn't actually a problem in and of itself. It's the tenants, and that's the same issue you could have with any neighbouring property.

I am honestly astonished to find someone in an identical situation to me. I am also a worrier and got really down about it last week as I was starting to feel like my property was unsellable. I also consider myself an honest and moral person, so this is putting me in a position that I don't like, but sometimes it's just about saving yourself. The person before me did the same and so I have no other option.

Do keep me updated, I have to say I felt like I felt like I was the only person in the world with this exact problem!

Ltc2020 Sun 06-Sep-20 22:09:57

*sorry I meant property next door, not downstairs, that makes no sense

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