WHETHER you are moving in or moving out there’s a lot more attached to a home than you-beaut sheds, fetching fences or ravishing range hoods.
Like it or not, one of the most important aspects of a home doesn’t come with an inspectors license or professional approval and you can’t give it a flick and a kick to see if it is functional either.
Your neighbours, for better or for worse, are a big part of your home whether you’re moving into a new one or moving out of your old one.
Neighbours can play a big part in helping (or hindering) the process of selling your home.
If you’ve got your house on the market and you find yourself living next door to the neighbours from hell there are a couple of issues to consider.
Firstly ask yourself whether they are going to jeopardize your efforts to sell your home, and secondly, is it unscrupulous (or just downright unAustralian) to keep your freak neighbours out of eyeshot from the poor unsuspecting schmucks that will have to put up with them after buying your house
Here’s a few ways you can work on solving the problem of not-so-neighbourly neighbours so you can sell your home with peace of mind and a clear conscience.
Perhaps they practice the trombone each afternoon on the porch, have never ending renovations, or are compulsive hoarders with a junkyard encroaching on your garden.
Talk it over
Your first port of call in resolving any neighbourhood problems should be to talk it over and try to reach a solution that suits you both.
While you might want to seek legal advice about your rights and how to go about fixing the situation, going to court can be expensive and leave the parties bitterly antagonistic towards each other.
Always consider mediation and pursue legal action as a last resort.
If you're trying to sell, pay the neighbours a visit or slip them a note explaining the issue and tactfully suggest how they could help.
If they're owners, remind them that getting a good price for your home will mean a better price for them down the track.
Remember: unless you've approached them before they might have no idea that their behaviour is impacting on you, and there might be a reason for it.
Maybe their yard is messy because they're suffering a long term illness or caring for a relative. Try to see it from their perspective.
Is it legal?
Are your neighbour’s problems activities illegal?
There are the really obvious ones: drugs, domestic violence or harass- ment. But did you know that burning off is illegal? Trespassing without authority on your land is also illegal.
Check with your local police or council if you’re unsure.
One of the most common problems is noisy neighbours: loud music, parties, power tools and wooden floors in the unit above to name just a few. Check your local council’s guidelines on noise, the Environment Protection Authority, or the strata bylaws if you're in a unit.
Let your neighbours know in advance when your home will be open for inspection, and ask nicely if they'd mind keeping the noise down during that time.
If it’s an ongoing problem and you don’t think this would work (maybe you live next door to a piano teacher with regular Saturday classes) work around it with your agent by scheduling open homes at times that are quietest.
Give us some privacy
If privacy is an issue there are many cheap remedies.
Install curtains or blinds on windows, plant a hedge, strategically place some pot plants, build a higher fence, install a privacy screen or simply ask the neighbour politely if they’d please stop standing on that milk crate and popping their head over the fence every five minutes.
As housing developments become increasingly high density, parking space is often a contentious issue. Maybe your neighbour has a boat, skip or trailer parked on a permanent basis. Can they store it elsewhere while your home is on the market?
Set your boundaries
A top cause of neighbourhood disputes are boundary problems – specifically trees and fences.
Trees can overhang fences, disrupt views and their roots can cause damage to paths and pipes on surrounding properties. If you have these problems check with your local council for their regulations in the first instance.
While there's no legal obligation to have a fence, most people like a little something between them and their neighbour and most buyers want it to be in good condition.
The cost of installing or repairing a fence is typically shared by both parties. If a fence is not on the legal boundary disputes can arise, particularly when selling. The onus is on the buyer to have a survey. Be a good neighbour yourself What goes around comes around. If you're looking for good karma from your neighbours you might want to give them some love too.
Getting to know your neighbours can be one way to prevent troubles further down the track.