Selling Your House With Problem Neighbours

“Neighbours… everybody needs good neighbours. with a little understanding. You can find the perfect blend. Neighbours should be there for one another. ” and so on. These were the lyrics sung in the opening theme song to Australia’s tackiest and most enduring soap opera. Of course, that show was make-believe, and the lyrics reflect cockeyed optimism. In reality, and according to statistics, only half the country even knows their neighbour’s name. More and bloodier wars are fought between neighbours over the most trivial disputes. Neighbours are proof that we live in hell on earth. They’re noisy, inconsiderate, untidy, and lower the tone of our neighbourhood. Anyway, that can often be the case. Selling your home demands cooperation from your neighbours. They can prove the difference between you finding a buyer or being relegated to the eternal list. If your neighbour is bad, the question is, what can you do about it?

The Most Common Complaints About Neighbours

Co-existing with your neighbours is a practised art that requires Zen-like levels of tolerance. There’s a litany of ways that our neighbours test our patience. These nuisances range from mildly irritating to outright infuriating. They may be short-lived disagreements or erupt into inter-generational feuds. Sometimes they result in violence. More often than not, they wind up in court. Quarrels may start over an overhanging tree branch that your neighbour refuses to chop. But when you lob it off with the chainsaw, that’s not the end of the matter. Suddenly, they’re banging at your door, accusing you of ecological genocide. In a twist of fate, it’s you who’s in the crosshairs of the council. Then there’s the neighbour’s pet, which keeps trespassing in your yard and destroying the veggie patch. Maybe your neighbour is addicted to burning twigs and rubbish. Every night is an excuse to asphyxiate you with their bonfire.

Perhaps the biggest irritant is the noisy neighbour. From the dreaded leaf-blower to loud music, noisy neighbours are the bane of civilised residents. But here you’re limited in your capacity to complain since they have rights. However, their rights might not accord with reasonableness, and before long, you have beef on your hands. Barking dogs are another big pain in the gluteus maximus. Just how do you shut that mutt up? How does one communicate to an apathetic neighbour that their dog’s yowling is driving them nuts? Parking is another area where neighbourly conflict arises. Sedentary sorts can be irked by children playing loudly. Property boundaries generate seething hostilities if they’re the subject of disagreement. These can be quite ridiculous, but people get married to them. Everybody sees their neighbours differently. People view the neighbourhood in diverse ways. What is reasonable to you might provoke an issue with somebody else.

Nightmare Optics Neighbours

Above is an outline of typical grievances arising from human beings living near one another. They are the bread and butter of neighbourhood spats. Except in extreme cases, they can be resolved with straightforward conflict resolution. The majority won’t necessarily affect you if you’re selling your property. You’ll be long gone by the time the buyer is introduced to the nudist neighbours. Only when you’re ensconced in your new home will they discover the neighbour’s son is learning the drums. By the time you’ve unpacked all the crockery, they’ll realise that next-door’s rottweiler likes pooing on the lawn. Then it’s a case of buyer beware. You’ve successfully offloaded the thorn in your craw onto someone else. You win. But it might turn out quite differently if the problem neighbour is in the nightmare optics range. This is where you’ll need more than a pleasant word or a carefully worded letter.

Examples of nightmare optics are the hobbyist mechanic next door, whose front yard is a graveyard for derelict automobiles. Is anything more wistfully dead-end? The neglectful neighbour with the overgrown front yard is a major snag. But the worst species of all is the hoarder. Here you are, the prettiest house on the block, but right next door is Mutant Manor. The most visible part of the house resembles the local tip. It’s piled high with refuse. We must also mention the nosy neighbour, constantly peeking over the fence. They generally have a comprehensive CCTV system to watch you put the dog out at night. Then, of course, the local crackhouse with junkies coming and going is a deal-breaker. Well, that’s easily sorted with a phone call to the police and by contacting the relevant authorities. But the rest require a more serious strategy if you’re to sell your house.

Must You Warn Buyers About Bad Neighbours?

If the buyer asks you a direct question, such as, “Are the neighbours aspiring DJs?”, you must be honest. If you don’t, you may be misrepresenting the property. Doing so will likely lead you to legal problems down the track when the neighbours reveal themselves. Different state and territory laws compel you to disclose facts about the property. These might be defects, potential hazards, building regulations, and so on. Overhanging tree branches may require council approval to be removed. You must advise buyers of such factors. Overall, no law requires you to disclose information about nuisance neighbours. It’s a case of fingers crossed. It’s up to the buyer to employ due diligence while inspecting the property. In the case of neglectful neighbours, they’ll be self-evident, as will the hoarder. Likewise, the lay mechanic will draw the buyer’s eye. Chances are you never bought a house next to a crack den.

Dealing With Problem Neighbours

A diligent vendor won’t leave matters up to the gods when the open day rolls around. They’ll have taken steps to ameliorate the situation. Noise complaints are an Environmental Protection Authority matter that you should consult your local council over. Laws prevent illegal burn-off, so you can resolve that quickly. Just beware of vengeful neighbours holding a grudge. They’re your biggest worry. Initially, be courteous. Approach the problematic neighbour and ask for a quiet word. They may be unaware of the things that bother you. If needed, write a carefully worded letter, being mindful of the tone. Similarly, you may have another neighbour who’s in a position to mediate for you. Ask them to have a word on your behalf. Be careful about allowing the situation to escalate to a legal contest. The Law Society of NSW warns that this can be expensive and create greater antipathy between the parties.

Remember, your real estate agent can always go to bat for you! If a polite request can’t convince your neglectful neighbour to spruce up their front yard, maybe they can. Your real estate agent will have dealt with this type of problem before. Consider that they too have a vested interest in resolving such issues. It may be worth their offering to professionally remove the unsightly junk. If the lazy neighbour can’t get it together to mow their front lawn, hiring a lawn professional might be the answer. Your real estate agent can mediate this type of crisis. Agreements can be struck with difficult parties. It can prove worthwhile to point out that the better price you get, the more your neighbour’s house will be worth. There are ways and means to bring a recalcitrant neighbour to heel. And as the song concludes, “That’s when good neighbours become good friends.”


While entertaining for outsiders, neighbourhood disputes are a very real dilemma for those involved. When the squabble involves bad behaviour that might prevent you from selling your house, you must take measures. We have presented a range of solutions to help you deal with troublesome scenarios. If you and your neighbour truly dislike each other, then count on them being glad to see you go. That might motivate them to clean up their act. Nevertheless, if you’re planning to sell your house, you’ll need a professional real estate agent. Not only will they find the right buyer for your home, but they’ll handle everything else. If our advice isn’t of any use, your real estate agent will have their professional remedies. If you need help finding the perfect agent, contact us. We’ll do the heavy lifting and match you with your dream agent. Best of all, our service is free.