Neighbour Hell or Heaven?
An intrinsic part of buying a house can also mean the joy or misery of gaining new neighbours.
Neighbours can make the difference between domestic bliss and proverbial hell.
Being aware of what to look for when you are viewing properties can avoid the pitfalls of falling into the neighbourly hell pit.
Here are a few pointers to spot the neighbour from hell before your new property becomes purgatory.
1. The obnoxious busybody
You’ll know immediately on arrival that you have an OB neighbour, when the curtains twitch as you walk up the driveway for initial inspection. OB’s usually don’t work and are more homebound. With their smaller world they will make it their responsibility to ensure that bi-laws and maintenance of other houses are maintained. They are ideal for neighbourhood watch schemes, but beware if a power tool goes on a minute over the designated time, or plants in your garden encroach in any way over the OB’s boundary.
2. The gossip queen
A wonderful part of living here in FNQ is the great community spirit here. There are, though, the GQ’s who don’t get enough of Home and Away and like to create their own show. If your neighbour starts divulging too much information about other neighbours when you meet them. or asking you questions that are too personal then she might be a GQ. It is wise to keep your distance and be wary about the information you relay to her in conversation. GQ’s can also be the queens of the ‘pop rounds’ when they will visit at the drop of any oily rag for a chin wag. Once they stick their pedicured feet under your kitchen table extraction will be through hydraulic force only.
3. The inconsiderate dog owner
The most noticeable aspect of the IDO neighbour is the dog. If you are inspecting a property and there is the sound of barking next door, then you have sniffed out an IDO. Not only are they inconsiderate to the neighbours but also to the dog. Usually kept in the yard, not exercised enough and used as a pet/working dog mix, this bored pooch likes nothing better than using its vocal cords. The smaller type of lap dogs can also yap for attention if left alone, but usually they are left indoors, so the noise isn’t so disturbing. Dog barking can be determined as a nuisance if it occurs between 7 am and 10 pm and totals more than 6 minutes or more than 3 minutes in a 30 minute period after 10 pm and before 7 am.
4. The non-stop partier
Here in the Tropics parties can tend to spill out into the pool and outside areas which makes the sound of partying that much louder to neighbours. If you are going to be buying a property next to a backpacker party palace there can be giveaways on viewing a property. A disproportionate number of bicycles parked outside. A kombi van in the driveway and ashtrays and drink cans and bottles around the pool. When viewing you might also hear the ‘doof doof’ of a sound system straining to get its volume turned up.
5. The property line offender
Check that the property you are interested in keeps to the dividing lines of the property. If a fence or any divider crosses over/under, then this issue should be addressed pre-purchase. The PLO views anything that crosses over/under their property as theirs. If you view the property and they are leaf blowing the leaves onto an adjoining property, or trees are trimmed back on their side but not on the other side they might be a PLO. Any drivers parking up on the verge (their verge!) or parked in the front (blocking our view) will be advised accordingly. They like the idea of borders and their garden design will be full of bordered foliage like bromeliads. Stone/wood surrounds emphasise the edge of each garden bed, just in case the adjoining garden path didn’t get the memo where to stop.
6. The negligent landscaper
This is one of the easiest neighbours to spot when property viewing. The NL doesn’t care about his yard (or his home). Broken children’s toys and rusty machinery disappearing under a jungle of vegetation are a good indication. If your thoughts conjure up a Bear Grylls handbook and a machete, you know you have a prime NL. Not only can this mean a neighbour who doesn’t care about their neighbours, but by neglecting their property they also will bring down the value of the properties around it. Putting up a fence to block the view would be a good idea, but don’t count on a neighbourly contribution.
7. The kings of their castle
These neighbours like the OB’s have usually a home centred life, but instead of looking externally for their world they look within the walls of their castle. Anything that penetrates those walls is cause of complaint. Being token hypochondriacs (that’s another of their esoteric walls), they worry about fumes, noise, smoke, damp, mould, dirt, insects, anything that can penetrate. They will complain about noise, cooking smells, smoke or fumes (that includes BBQ’s) and if they have a cockroach it will be your property that is the breeding ground. Difficult to spot whilst property viewing apart from a meticulously kept outside yard and all blinds/curtains drawn over windows.
Tips for Avoiding:
1. Spend time in the neighbourhood before purchasing and visit at different times of the day.
2. Try and talk to the neighbours to get a feel for the neighbourhood
3. If there are For Sale signs on both sides of a property this might be warning bells
4. Get to know the locals – they might have inside information about a difficult area or family
If it is too late for you and you are in a dispute with your neighbour, then you can apply for mediation.
Arrange to meet with the neighbour one to one first, to see if you can settle the dispute amicably (doesn’t apply if your dispute relates to criminal charges before the court).
If nothing is resolved, then both parties can then agree to both move to mediation.
The Dispute Resolution Centre will assess if the matter is suitable for mediation and schedule you a session. These free sessions can take around 3-4 hours.
Rosie Wang is a Real Estate Agent with Ray White Port Douglas
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