How I long for a detached house with a drive – and, more importantly, no neighbours.
My current abode is a three-bed semi with no off-street parking. It’s a free parking street but before you think I’m boasting, it’s also close to three primary schools, has a corner shop and most of the residents seem to be building loft extensions.
Taken together, it adds up to pretty painful parking. It gets even worse when one of the tank-driving neighbours is home as he frequently takes up two spaces, which is particularly vexing when I’ve got a boot full of heavy groceries and there are no spaces near the house. Then there’s the bloke across the road whose drive is so overgrown he can’t park in it any more and so deprives the rest of us of another precious space.
The problems of your house and garden actually being joined on to other people’s are a whole other source of irritation. I can happily live with the odd ball hurtling its way over my back fence – having been lobbed by two cheeky little chappies – but I take exception to the neighbours’ cats coming to poo on my newly laid lawn after first having dug up disproportionately large holes in it, and to another neighbour’s out-of-control apple tree that dumps its maggoty load all over my flower bed.
I know I’m in full rant mode but I expect some of these things must be familiar to you too – especially as research from Privilege Home Insurance has found that at least half of people in London, Birmingham and Cardiff say they have nuisance neighbours.
The number one reason why people are unhappy or have argued with their neighbours is noise. This is something a friend of mine is struggling with. Her neighbours have really loud parties. ‘So loud in fact that they had to leave their flat, walk down corridor and stand outside my door to ring their friends. I’m always tempted to make notes on what’s being said on those calls then knock on door, turn the music off and read out all the gossip I heard,’ she says.
Other anger-inducing traits include an untidy or overgrown front garden or a loud dog. Another friend told me the latter was his particular source of frustration with his former neighbour.
He said: ‘I had absolutely terrible neighbours when I lived in a flat in London – they went to work and left their dogs barking all day, let the dogs sh*t all over the communal garden, left the dogs alone in the garden so they’d come into my house if the door was open and frighten my pets…I could go on.’
He’s moved now but has inherited a new nuisance. ‘Where I live now is infinitely better but my next door neighbour has been out of work for months and is there all the time. As I work from home, I am constantly subjected to his radio and music, which he plays with the doors and windows open.
‘And he burns incense sticks all day. By the evening the smell is overpowering in my house, particularly upstairs in my study and bedroom. It’s got to the point where I’m going to have to talk to him about it as the fumes are affecting my health.’
Also high on the Privilege list of complaints are neighbours doing DIY at unsociable hours. I’d add mowing the lawn to this entry.
According to Privilege, the worst neighbours are most likely to be a family living in London, where the parents are in their 40s and are unemployed. They are most likely to drive a Volkswagen and own a dog (the best live in Plymouth, are retired over-60s singletons who drive Nissans and don’t have pets).
While nuisance neighbours are part of urban life few of us can do anything about, they can cost us dear. The insurer found that having a bad neighbour next door can knock £17,321 off the price of the average house in the UK.
It added that experts it questioned assessed that a good neighbour next door positively affects the value of your house by 9.4 per cent, adding £19,856 to the average UK property. This puts the difference between having a good neighbour and a bad neighbour at £37,177 to the average Brit when it comes to asking prices, and an eye-watering £83,100 to a Londoner.
So it seems the classic Aussie TV show theme tune rings true after all: everyone really does need a good neighbour.
Laura Whitcombe is Knowledge and Product Editor at ThisisMoney.co.uk
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