It’s good to talk – to the neighbours

When buying a new home, the legal searches, surveys, etc, can only go so far: they can find out what is on various official records, or what is physically observable.  However, they cannor reliably find out whether there are any problem neighbours or disputes with neighbours – though disputes should be disclosed by the seller, sometimes they “forget”.

To try to protect buyer clients against this “forgetfulness”, I normally ask the seller’s solicitors to confirm that, as solicitors for the seller, they themselves are not aware of any disputes.  Sometimes they refuse to answer the question – usually because they misunderstand its scope and think it is asking them to disclose information that is confidential to another client, but sometimes because they say it is impossible to check their records (how do they check for conflicts of interest, one wonders?) – but usually the reassurance I want is given.

Even that, though, is no substitute for the buyer introducing themselves to the neighbours; not only will they find out is the neighbours have a problem with the seller or the property, but they will also form a good idea whether they want to become neighbours themselves.  The moral is clear – it is good to talk.


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