Nasty neighbours force home cover claims… and what to do about it

Having nasty, noisy people living next door can not only keep you awake at night and make you feel uncomfortable in and out of your home, it can also hit you for six financially.

Nightmare neighbours are the reason that 10% of British householders claim on home insurance at some point, recent research shows, losing their no claims bonus discounts and pushing up premiums by £50 a year.

The latest figures, from the financial comparison site Moneysupermarket.com, provide further evidence that nuisance neighbours are the bane of many homeowners’ lives, leading to both emotional and financial stress.

The damage nightmare neighbours cause

Neighbours from hell rarely look after the property they live in, commonly letting gardens grow into wild, unkempt spaces and not bothering to maintain a building’s structure, causing all sorts of problems the other side of the fence.

So it’s perhaps not surprising that damage caused to a building’s structure by unruly gardens and overgrown trees is the main reason terrible neighbours lead to claims on insurance. For 29% of those surveyed, this was the top factor when making a neighbour-related insurance claim.

Next came ‘lack of upkeep’ by the neighbours’ of the home they live in, which includes poor maintenance such as blocked gutters and loose roof tiles.

Most frightening was the fact that another 22% say gas leaks next door, along with burst pipes, were the reason for a claim.

Dodgy neighbours hit property prices too

A major worry for homeowners is the impact terrible neighbours have when they try to sell or rent out their home, with 12% believing it would affect their ability to do so.

The major problems associated with reducing a home’s value are next door properties looking awful, with rubbish strewn around in clear view and antisocial behaviour taking place, including loud music and parties, causing potential buyers or renters to think twice and possibly put in much lower offers.

What you can do if you have neighbours from hell

While it’s not usually easy, there are things you can do to try and put a stop to the problem:

  • Negotiate – Firstly, try and talk to your neighbours calmly and rationally (while being aware this might not be worth it, depending on the people involved, and may even make the situation worse).
  • Collate evidence – Make notes on the time and dates of specific incidents. If possible take photos and make recordings.
  • Rented homes – If it’s a rented property next door, try and speak to the landlord and get them to warn their tenants.
  • Local councils and police – Get in touch with your local council, or even police if it’s really bad, as they do have certain powers to intervene.
  • Boundary disputes – These are very common with neighbours and you may require legal assistance (see below) to help fight your case.
  • Shared facilities – Badly kept communal gardens, rubbish building up, overgrowing trees and bushes, poorly maintained roofs and walls; all can cause conflict. Get in touch with your local authority’s environmental health or health and safety departments for advice.
  • Seek a court order – Unfortunately, if things don’t improve, you may have to seek a court order against your neighbours. This can prove costly and time consuming, but possibly the only hope you have if you don’t want to move out.
  • Move out! – Sadly, for a good number of households, this is the only action they can take to rid themselves of a neighbour problem. This is especially the case if the trouble is at a relatively low-level, but is still extremely bothersome, as there’s little the police or local council can do in such cases.

Get legal cover on your home insurance

Legal assistance, or legal cover as it’s generally known, may come as standard with your home insurance policy, or can usually be added at a small additional cost.

Having legal cover means that, if required, you’re able to call upon legal expertise, get court representation and court fees covered. Be sure about what you want from the cover though; not all legal assistance insurance includes neighbour disputes. So if this is a concern, double check and ensure you get a policy where such disputes are included.

Policy Expert

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