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The value of a neighbour
Do you know the names of your neighbours? Have you ever done them a favour, or vice versa? Or do you consider them to be the neighbours from hell?
The relationship between neighbours can be an important one, as how well you get on with those that you live next to can have a direct impact on how happy you are in your current home.
A helping hand
Establishing a good relationship with your neighbours can come with some benefits – and we don’t just mean someone to talk to about the local goings on and gossip! Having someone reliable that you can turn to if you’re ever in a spot of bother is incredibly valuable. In fact, research* conducted for us found that eight in ten people have helped their neighbour in the last 12 months, showing that neighbourly love is a common thing!
We found that some of the most common ways that neighbours help each other includes accepting deliveries, helping out with DIY around the house and even caring for each other’s kids. For many people, knowing that there is someone nearby who’s willing to help them every now and then, or keep a look out if they’re ever away, can be a great source of comfort and relief. Especially if the person is elderly or lives by themselves.
Of course, where you live can have an effect on how well you know your neighbours. For example, if you live in a busy block of flats, you may feel as though you don’t see your neighbours enough to form a bond with them. However, even just a cheery hello as you pass them in the corridor is a good start! If you live in a cul-de-sac or on a quiet road, it’s easier. You might be out in your garden regularly, or your kids might play out together, so those relationships will form more naturally.
Sense of community
Forming a strong bond with your neighbours can also be a great way of bringing back a sense of community to your neighbourhood. Events such as the Royal Wedding and the Olympics showed us that community spirit can be infectious. And having a sense of comradery with those that you live near can help to create a more pleasant environment to live in. And, as a community, you’re more likely to get things done, such as improving the appearance of the area or organising charity events.
Through the keyhole
Although just as important as the house itself, an area that is often overlooked when buying a home is observing what the neighbours are like. Making sure that you do this before you put in an offer could help to save you upset later on down the line.
When looking around a property that you like, you could always introduce yourself to the neighbours on either side. Why not ask them what the street is like to live on, or what they think of the area? The chats that you have with them could give you a pretty good indication of what the street is like and whether you’d be happy to live alongside them.
Neighbours from hell
If you’re not so lucky and end up with less desirable neighbours, it can making living in your home stressful. Different people will have different ideas about what constitutes bad neighbours – it could be a yappy dog, loud music or unsociable behaviour. Or maybe there’s parking disputes or overhanging trees you can’t cut down. Whatever the issue, there are things that you can do.
The first step is to talk it through with them. Be polite, don’t make too much of a fuss and keep it friendly. You never know – they might not have realised they were even causing an issue and hopefully they’ll be more considerate in future. This is the ideal scenario, but unfortunately it won’t always be so easy. If a friendly chat doesn’t work, you could write them a letter – again, keep it friendly and perhaps even suggest a positive solution to the issue you’re having. It’s also good to have everything written down if you need to take it further, so make sure you keep a copy of the letter.
If the chat and letter still don’t work, it might be worth considering taking further action. Citizens Advice have lots of advice on what types of action you can take, from contacting your local authority, to more drastic steps.
For more serious issues, or for disputes that have been going on for a while, you could also suggest mediation, though this can be costly – around £500. The Ministry of Justice has an online directory of mediators (civilmediation.justice.gov.uk), so that’s a good starting point. If you’ve talked to your neighbour and written to them without any success, it’s likely that you or your neighbour could be getting frustrated about the situation, so bringing in a third party, with no links to either of you, could be a good idea. If the dispute is over boundaries, parking and access, hedges and so forth, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Dispute Resolution Service (RICS DRS) could help, though again, it’ll cost you, so only use this as a last resort.
*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 24Th July and 31st July 2014, of whom 620 were Scottish residents.