Everybody needs good neighbours

As a landlord, you are likely to have a busy life. As well as looking after your properties and making sure your tenants are happy in their homes, you have plenty of work to do behind the scenes as well. It is understandable that you can’t be everywhere all the time.

However, if you do not maintain an active presence at your properties, you can find yourself coming unstack, and losing touch with exactly what is going on with your investments. This is where a good relationship with your property’s neighbours can be one of the most valuable assets in your landlord arsenal.

Making sure you remain on good terms with neighbours is all well and good, but their close relationship can be stretched if your tenants don’t share the same bond. Law firm Taylor and Gordon recently released a list of the top ten most common disputes between neighbours - here’s how we think you could go about smoothing troubled waters if you find yourself caught in the middle of a residential ruckus.

Building a bond

Taylor and Gordon reveled that some one of the most common issues between neighbours arise when one party carrying out works on their property that impact their neighbour’s ability to access their home or contravene the title deeds – such as installing a new driveway to their property or painting the exterior of their home an unusual colour.

If you (in this case it is unlikely to be your tenant) are planning any major renovations to the property, it is a great idea to let all neighbouring properties know, especially if the work is going to be messy, noisy, cause a potential blockage in the street, impact on parking or else cause a disruption to the neighbours for any length of time.

Some properties are bound by rules and regulations with regards to exterior decorations, so be sure to check that you are not planning any works that could possibly contravene any covenants laid out by your managing company.

Taylor and Gordon’s research revealed that one of the biggest bugbears is when work is carried out on a property that has a negative impact on surrounding property values. Their research revealed that 81% of respondents were unaware that you have an ability to object to major changes (a barbed wire wrapped, ten-foot-high concrete perimeter fence, for example) if you think it’s construction may have an impact on the value of your property. Whilst you would hope that no works that you are planning would have this sort of impact on your neighbours property, it’s a useful law to keep in mind, but be sure to take appropriate legal advice if you hope to rely on it.

Blossoming relationships

As longer tenancies become more and more commonplace, it is becoming more standard to see tenants taking more of an interest in a property’s garden. As the space is used more as an extension to the home, rather than just as a washing line location, it is no surprise that a request to erect a shed, playhouse or swing set is not an uncommon query.

However, whilst they say that every man’s shed is his castle, not every neighbour agrees… the research shows that 20% of homeowners would expect to be consulted before a garden construction is erected. So, if your tenant approaches you with a desire to make a change to the green space, you could consider urging them to have a chat with next door, and make sure they’re not treading on any toes.

Whilst we’re in the garden, another big concern is the chopping down of trees and hedges. Whilst you may be pleased that your tenant is taking control of the garden, do make sure that you are keeping in the loop with regards to what they are doing – if they get a little too ‘trim happy’ it may not only be the foliage that gets the chop, it may be your relationship with the neighbours – up to 30% of respondents admitted to getting frustrated by their neighbours management of shared shrubs.

Whether the greenery is too trimmed, not trimmed enough, or chopped down completely, we’re a nation of green-fingered folk at heart, and it certainly pays to make sure that any plants – large or small – that have an impact on neighboring properties are handled with care.

Preventing offence

It’s been a funny few days weather wise, with floods, lightening and blazing sunshine – and with such wild weather there are probably plenty of properties across the UK with fences looking decidedly lopsided.

According to the Taylor and Gordon research, this is a serious cause of ‘offence’ for neighbours, with a broken or poorly maintained shared fence one of the top issues for homeowners. A whopping 37% of respondents admitted to arguing with their neighbours over fence repairs, making it the most common issue to cause dispute.

When the weather is wild, and you’re faced with broken fence panels to repair it can be hugely frustrating, but unfortunately this cost will fall to you as a landlord. As much as you may want to bury your head in the sand, consider the impact that leaving a flapping panel could have on your tenant, and neighbours – not only is it unsightly, but also unsafe, and it could leave the security of both properties potentially exposed.

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