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Selling flat with 'undesirable' neighbours - help and advice please(24 Posts)
I am really stressed about this and would love some advice. We own a flat in London, and unbeknownst to us neighbours on one side are awful. They are HA and regularly change tenants, so some are good and some are not. In addition, sometimes it's more than one HA tenant at a time, I think it might have studio flats inside. It is not, however, an HMO. It wasn't declared to us because the previous owner didn't actually live here so didn't technically have problems even though they definitely knew.
I've always put up with it in general but in lockdown anti-social behaviour was a bit much (loud music etc.). All disputes with them have been verbal, never written, and in general have been resolved by talking. I've been friends with one or two people who have lived there, whilst absolutely hating others.
I also queried with the council whether this was an HMO or not to find out. So, I guess I'll have to declare that bit of correspondence.
I live in central London where it is somewhat normal that private and council are next to each other. So, I'm not sure how big a deal it is. All my money is in this flat and I feel extremely stressed at the fact that in my mind it has become unsellable. I particularly worry about the property information sellers form and what I have to fill out there.
The London market is going to be awful for years to come anyway, so I've accepted I will not get what I bought for, but this combined with the neighbours is causing me so much stress and making me think I will never sell this flat.
Has anyone been through something similar? Or has any thoughts? I am really distressed at the moment.
Are you asking if you have to declare the nuisance neighbours as a part of selling it? Just get it on the market if so and hope for the best; think of some sensible responses to the declaration question - for example, 'some with previous tenant of the HA owned neighbouring property'.
It's a rubbish situation so hope it works out for you
Surely if it’s different neighbours it’s okay. It’s only if the current ones are a problem?
Yes the one I had a real problem with no longer lives here. I imagine I'd still have to declare that that happened. One current tenant imo still plays music too loud but that is subjective and it is not at night.
Loofah - thank you. Yes I thought about what I could write and everything is much less dramatic when you write it out. While I have lost my mind because I feel trapped in the situation 'noise dispute with neighbour in 2019 resolved amicably' probably isn't the worst. I more regret having contacted the council because now I have to declare that too. I feel like I've been put in a bad situation and then I've dug my grave even deeper! It's actually a privately owned property but rented out to the council. I feel so stressed.
If you go on your council website, by law they have to have a public list of HMOs so the answer to that question is easy. On that basis, the fact that you wrote to the council asking for an answer to the same question really does not seem a big deal to me.
The answer on the current tenants again does not seem a big issue - just say that a previous neighbour was noisy but you have no problem with the current ones.
I’d ask the estate agent (or yr solicitor) as I wouldn’t think you’d have to declare disputes with neighbours that no longer live there, just the current one. It’s no problem to a future buyer if they’ve left.
I don’t think the daytime loud music is a neighbour “dispute” either, but check with EA.
You could write on the form that the flat is HA and as such the occupants change regularly. That is truthful and while it may be off-putting to some potential buyers, others might just accept it and would expect some neighbours to be better than others. Surely you don’t have to declare trouble with past neighbours (I may be wrong?)
If they have already moved out then I would not see it as something to report. The main issue is whether you have any written evidence of problems with the current neighbours. Anyone buying a flat will need to be aware that there will be some noise. I would not worry too much and put it on the market while you get on with everyone.
Lampan - I like your idea. I'm not sure where exactly on the form I would put that. Maybe I could tick 'no' for future problems with property but then add council tenants can change regularly, some good some bad. I think that is reasonable, truthful, and not hugely off putting? There is no way I can 100% say yes there will be future problems because the current tenants are ok.
Lampan & TW2013 - I was under the impression that even historical disputes you must declare even if neighbour no longer lives there. It depends what level of written evidence counts. Back when we had a bad tenant I think we (us and other neighbours) did email their letting agents but that was about it. He then was evicted and that was that. We have a neighbours fb chat group that includes all the surrounding private properties and we regularly are complaining about someone, but I mean that is more neighbourhood gossip and not any real dispute.
I am terrified of being sued in the future if I don't fully declare but I also have to take care of myself. The guy before me just didn't declare anything at all.
Thank you for everybody's thoughts, it seems like it's maybe not the worst thing in the world? I think just being here 4 years now I've lost objectivity.
If you are still complaining on the FB page then yes it could be a problem, as essentially there is evidence that you are finding that property disruptive, so if the new owner joins the Facebook group then they have evidence that you experienced the disruption too.
TW2014 - thanks. It is a private group but no I am not still actively complaining, however the most recent was like 2019. I hadn't said anything between 2017-2019. Then 2019 was the annoying tenant, and obvs we've had a bit of annoyance during lockdown but I think that's to be expected. Do you think it's better that I wait 2 or 3 years to sell, so that even if someone was to see all of this, it's all historical and therefore not as relevant? I've literally just had a cup of tea with one neighbour from this problem property now but there's no way I can document that as proof that it's currently ok lol
There might be landlords looking for bargain properties to buy, or someone might want a flat to use occasionally whilst in London on business or any of many other reasons other than live full time - they won't care what the neighbours are like - I would get it on the market.
I understand your concerns however, it's not a current and formal dispute so I wouldn't declare it. Also one person's intolerable noise wouldn't bother someone else
Oh and do get it on the market as soon as possible. Prices will fall soon
See it as a flat that would suit an investor / landlord interested in an HMO. Unless there is a restriction to the street/block that doesn't allowanymore rental conversions? If the price is reasonable, they will get an income from it so win-win for all (apart from other neighbours maybe - mind you not all HMOs are troublesome, esp if privately run).
Ah I feel for you OP, you sound really stressed. We sold an inner London flat last year, one of two units, the second of which was let out to private tenants. There were about 4 or 5 different tenants for the 7 years we were there and some of them were an absolute nightmare. On the advice of our solicitor, we declared the one set that we reported to the council for noise, and noted that since they moved out we had not had cause to report any other tenants.
TBH I feel it's on the buyer and their solicitors to do their due diligence. If they are worried that HA tenants are going to be more troublesome than private (not a given in any case) then they need to specifically ask you whether any neighbouring properties are HA owned. But in central London we all live on top of one another, it's unrealistic to think you can purchase a flat without having to deal with neighbours! Unless you've got a couple of million quid to spare.
Try not to stress, get it on the market as soon as you can and have faith that there will be a buyer out there. I really wouldn't worry about getting sued, it's incredibly unlikely and you can talk to your solicitor about the best way to approach things when you reach the stage of the property information forms. But hundreds of thousands of people every year sell their city centre flats without being sued, and lots of those will have neighbours who are much worse than yours!
There has been another thread about this in the last few days. Have a look at that - very helpful in spelling out exactly what disputes actually are.
Essentially, you don’t need to declare things you personally dislike - ie noisy neighbours. Noise is a very personal tolerance thing.
From what I recall, even a quick word with a neighbour isn’t a dispute. Disputes are more formalised and include issues where Police involved or environmental health. Simply looking into whether an HMO exists isn’t a dispute. Disputes really are official complaints with a paper (or email trail) and usually relate to current neighbours. If a Q comes up on paperwork about any disputes ever and there were the formal disputes above, state that it was previous residents and matter resolved when they moved.
You must be honest ....but about actual disputes. Ask solicitor for clarification if in doubt. The buyer also has to do due diligence in finding out about neighbours etc.
If buying I would always ask the seller (when viewing or via EA before making offer) if the neighbouring properties were rented, HMOs and what kind of people lived next door - ie family, single person etc. My Dad also taught me that when buying, visiting the area several times and a bit of loitering around outside often produces a neighbour who will chat to you if you are friendly and you tell them you’re considering moving to area. Said neighbour can be a useful source about traffic, parking, community feeletc in a way sellers won’t be. Of course,, you can’t always believe all of it, but it can be useful.
I’m not sure you need to be as worried as you feel.
Hello everyone. Thank you so much for your helpful comments. I was really expecting a load of comments to the effect of 'what a bad situation, you may need to auction it' or whatever - you can see how the stress has really driven me into a corner! It's really helpful to hear more objective views about living in London etc. The studio flats are also privately managed but let to council tenants as you say, so that is quite good. I have put the flat on the market at a reasonable price (10k less from what it was when I was looking 3 years ago) given the current economy.
FreiasBathtub - it's really great to hear you declared you reported some to the council but since then no problems and were able to sell. I think this is probably similar as to what I will do as there was a tenant in 2019 that was horrendously anti-social. Everybody complained to the letting agents and he was actually evicted very swiftly, even though we hadn't even got to complaining to the council yet.
WombatChocolate - I'm trying to find the thread you mention, could you let me know the title?
Again, thank you everyone. It's great to hear impartial views as my friends/family keep telling me 'it'll be ok' but it's hard to think they aren't telling me that because they like and know me!
Frankly when flats are rented and tenants change regularly it is the luck of the draw whether you get good or bad neighbours...
Even if you had good tenants at the point of sale, that could change a month later and your buyers might end up with difficult new neighbours...
I am not quite sure what else there is to say about it.
If I was to buy a flat I would check whether there is an HMO next door and whether those are council/HA tenants and make my own conclusions.
There is always a risk of getting anti-social behaviour in big cities in this type of accommodation...
It's totally understandable to be stressed Ltc2020. But honestly, I bet you'll be fine.
I have learned, from many years of watching American lawyer TV shows, that you should never give more information than strictly asked for in a legal transaction . In many ways it's great that you didn't have to escalate to the council, clearly there's a good community and a responsible letting agent who can deal efficiently with antisocial tenants. And remember that once your buyer has committed to your house emotionally (and probably financially by the time they get your property information form) they're not likely to be put off by a noisy neighbour who's already moved out.
Thank you everyone for your empathy. Last night I woke up because I could hear voices outside. Looked like one of my neighbours was buying drugs but I can't be sure. Not sure what else one does at 1:30am outside on a Wednesday. It sent me right into a stress spiral again. I just hate living near these people at this point DH says its not a big deal and part and parcel of living in flats in inner london. Is he right? I can't feel that way at the moment and I feel so stressed that the only thing I own in my life and where all my money is may be lost/effected because of these people
Your DH is right. Honestly, I do understand how you feel - I felt the same way though in my case it's because we were on a really noisy, busy, smelly junction and I could only see the flaws of our flat, and all the reasons not to buy it. But we ended up with two offers! It took a while, I won't lie, but we ended up selling at asking price.
If someone wants to live in a great, vibrant, central location, there are downsides that come along with that. I mean, there were multi-million pound houses on my old street (my flat was not one of them, I hasten to add!) and they would have had the exact same neighbours, road noise, people trooping up and down to bus stops after the bars kicked out at 2am as I did.
What's the market like in your area at the moment? How much interest have you had in your flat? Would it help to think about other options you could pursue if you're not able to sell right now? But honestly, I think this is anxiety talking and I know it's very hard to see past that when you're in the thick of it.
FreiasBathtub - thank you, it's really comforting to know other people have felt similar. I also laughed at the term 'smelly junction'. Our flat has many pros, but like you say, I can only see the cons and to me the neighbours are a huge one - particularly for me, as they are half my reason for wanting to move.
The market is a bit weird, I think estate agents thought August would be busy but more people have gone on holiday etc than they expected. It's been on the market 10/14 days or so and we've had three viewings. It's the type of flat a first time buyer, or perhaps a second time, might buy. Or, a buy-to-let. So I think mortgages for our type of buyer are not easy to get right now.
Yes I have thought about other options. We will rent it out while we live elsewhere. We are undecided how long to wait though before we flip it to renting. We have to move either way because DH job is relocating and to be honest we want more space. I obviously then started worrying that no renter would stay because of the neighbours. DH says renters care even less about these types of things and will just leave at the end of the year lease if it's a real problem, which doesn't really effect us as the location means a new tenant could probably be found quite quickly.
Thank you - I think you are right it is the anxiety talking but it's so hard for me to see past it at the moment.