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Getting to Know Your Neighbour

“That’s when good neighbours, become good friends.”

In the UK’s case however this isn’t so. The Australian TV show, Neighbours, would be seriously lacking in useful storylines if it were set in the UK. The most dialogue between two neighbours would be when they both step outside their front door and share an extremely awkward hello to each other. Gone are the days of mothers stood outside their front door, gossiping with a cup of tea in their grasp. Children going to their friend’s house across the street to play games and men sharing tools and banter over the garden fence. Now it takes the monarchy’s celebrations to bring neighbours together in the form of a street party.

(Lack of) Neighbourhood Connections

Research from revealed an astounding 13 million people do not know their neighbour’s name. 3.5 million people have no clue who their neighbours are and another 1.5 million actually feel threatened by their neighbours. These results come as a disappointment to many, including HM the Queen who called for everyone celebrating the Diamond Jubilee to see it as “an opportunity for people to come together in a spirit of neighbourliness and celebration of their own communities”.

Despite these results, the research found that one fifth of people would like to form some sort of relationship with their neighbours. However, 11 million people have had disagreements with their neighbours in the past five years, most verbal but some physical.

Landlords, Tenants & Neighbours

Landlords need to have good relationships with the neighbours of properties in their portfolios. Although they don’t live there, they are responsible for the people who do and they need to ensure their tenant’s behaviour is respectful of their neighbours, as it can reflect badly on them.

There are numerous cases of continuing animosity between neighbours leading to visits from the police and damage to a property and these results benefit no one. Having good property insurance can ensure your property has the appropriate protection from damage caused by tenants or neighbours. However despite this protection, it is worth thoroughly referencing prospective tenants in order to confidently determine their behaviour and tendencies.

Landlords should consider things such as how noisy a tenant is; if they have pets or children and the number of cars they need to park outside their home. These are the most common causes of neighbour disputes.

Benefits of Knowing Your Neighbour

Having a good relationship with the neighbours of your property can help you in the tenant selection process. You can choose tenants who you feel will fit in well with the neighbourhood and not cause trouble. You can also rely on the neighbours to keep you updated on any emergencies that may arise which involve your property or the surrounding area.

Commenting on the results, analyst Samantha Baden said, “Sellers have an obligation to disclose details of any complaints made against their neighbours to buyers – and this really can impact on your ability to sell a property. Millions of people in the UK would like to have a better relationship with their neighbours and occasions like this year’s Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics are the perfect opportunity to break the ice. Knowing that an area has a strong sense of community is a real pull factor for potential home buyers and it’s factors like these that help to drive up the price of a property.”

Landlords and residents set to sign groundbreaking agreement

Social landlords in a village in the North East of England are setting out on a social experiment that could spread across the UK if it proves successful.

Groundbreaking document

Accent Foundation, the main housing provider in former colliery village Horden, near Newcastle, are launching a Good Landlord, Good Neighbour scheme that will require tenants to sign an agreement that will hopefully improve the austere conditions in the village. The agreement is still at the draft stage and local residents have been invited to input their own ideas as to what should be in the document.

All parties will sign

Once agreed, the document will be posted to all the population of the village, whether they are tenants or property investors with an interest in landlord insurance. Michael Fishwick, an employee of Accent, is behind the plan and he is adamant it can work and be the blueprint for other schemes across the country.

Residents asked to play their part

He envisages residents working with landlords and letting agents to drastically reduce anti-social behaviour, a problem that has blighted the village for some time. He wants tenants to know the whereabouts of their children at all times, to put bins out correctly on collection days and to be responsible for their pets and any mess they may make in the streets. He wants them to report anti-social behaviour whenever they see it and to maintain good relations with their neighbours when at all possible.

Landlords promise to maintain high standards

In return he promises that landlords will play their part in the scheme by taking part in monthly visits where they will listen to any complaints tenants may have. He promises landlords will take swift action against anti-social tenants and will undertake to get any maintenance work done in quick fashion. Property insurance will be kept up to date which will ensure money is available when repairs are urgent. He envisages landlords and letting agents supporting local groups within the area and three monthly meetings of all landlords to discuss any problems that arise from the agreement.

Beating anti-social element is the key

Mr Fishwick has already managed to get local residents’ organisations involved and is keen for the scheme to start before the New Year. He believes once anti-social elements are controlled the rest will fall into place. It is a brave idea and one that the silent majority will support. It remains to be seen however, if the villagers can pull it off.