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What you can do when your neighbour’s home is devaluing your property

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Much like how that one scuffed dining room chair will lower the value of the whole set, one unkept property will drag down the prices of all the surrounding homes. Regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, warns that as thorough as you might have been in your suburb research before purchasing your current home, living next door to a negligent neighbour can happen to anyone at any point in time.

“Nobody can predict the future. All it takes is for your current neighbours to fall into some financial crisis that causes their home to go to wreck and ruin, or to relocate and have a real-world version of The Adam’s Family move in next door,” he warns. “The unfortunate reality is that homeowners do not have many options available to them if ever they find themselves in this situation.”

Says Kim Peacock, broker/owner of RE/MAX Dolphin Realtors: “It is very difficult when a neighbour fails to maintain their property to a certain standard,” says Peacock. “You can request that a neighbour takes certain steps to neaten up their property but there is very little one can do to force their hand – especially when the property is situated on a freehold erf. Having said that, if a property is situated in a lifestyle estate, it is very easy to take action as there are rules and guidelines in place according to which each and every homeowner must adhere. You simply would need to report the property in question to the HOA which would ensure proper maintenance takes place.”

For those who do not own property in a lifestyle estate governed by an HOA or body corporate, RE/MAX of Southern Africa has compiled a few diplomatic approaches to dealing with negligent neighbours.

#1 Be neighbourlyNosy neighbours.resize

Don’t be too hasty in your anger against your neighbour. You might not know what could have happened to cause their house to stand derelict. Instead of sitting in your home nursing your indignance, approach them and show some neighbourly concern for the sudden change in the appearance of their home and find out if there is any way you could help.

#2 Take the straight forward approach

Diplomacy is key in this approach. Nobody wants animosity to exist between themselves and their neighbours. If you approach them calmly, kindly explaining the situation and requesting that they tidy up the exterior of their home (at the least while your home is on the market), you might find that they were unaware of the effect they were having and would be happy to oblige. Of course, it is also likely that they simply don’t care how the appearance of their home affects you. However, you won’t know unless you ask.

#3 Drop not-so-subtle hintsfixer upper

If you are not the type who is comfortable in engaging in direct confrontation, you could find an opportunity to chat to them and strategically mention that you know a great garden service or cleaning professional with whom you’d be happy to put them in touch. If the appearance of their home really bugs you, and your home is currently on the market, you could offer to pay to get the exterior fixed up for them. It’s possible that your neighbour won’t turn down the free offer; and, while it might cost you a couple of hundred (or thousand depending on the extent of the damage) to hire some professionals for them, it could save you tens of thousands in terms of the resale value of your own property.

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For those who are currently experiencing this exact crisis and are not sure how to deal with it, Goslett suggests that they partner with a trusted local estate agent who can help them sell at as close to full value as possible.

“As experts in the industry, estate agents are not just the superfluous middleman between buyers and sellers, but are knowledgeable consultants with years of experience who are able to help buyers and sellers through the various complicated realities involved in property transactions,” Goslett concludes.

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