You might be able to make a claim on your home insurance for damage to your home when it’s been caused by your neighbour.
Neighbour damage can range from serious events like fire and flood to seemingly more trivial damage like a window being accidentally smashed by a football.
Your home insurance could even cover vandalism or malicious damage. Here’s what you need to know.
Does my home insurance cover damage caused by neighbours?
Most home insurance policies don't specifically refer to neighbour damage.
But in most cases, you should be covered by your home insurance for damage caused by your neighbour.
Here are some of the issues your home insurance tends to cover:
Fire and flood
The ‘insured perils’ wording in your home insurance policy should include events like fire and flood caused by neighbours.
For example, a fire starting in your neighbour’s home might mean yours is at risk of fire as well. You should be able to claim on your home insurance policy for such events.
Ultimately, your insurer might attempt to claim back the money from your neighbour’s insurance policy.
This is also the same for leaks coming from your neighbour’s property. For instance, if water has leaked through your ceiling from your neighbour’s flat above you.
Structure of your home
As well as fire and flood, significant insurance claims could also result from party wall damage.
This generally refers to the damage that occurs when sharing a wall with a neighbour and their building work has gone wrong.
Another threat posed to the structure of your home is any invasive plants lurking on their side of the garden fence.
Japanese knotweed, for example, can cause thousands of pounds in damage and is notoriously difficult to get rid of. Though it’s unlikely that your home insurance policy covers damage from this.
But if you have legal expenses cover, you might be able to get help with pursuing financial compensation should your neighbour refuse to pay.
Let’s say your neighbour's child kicked a football through your living room window. You should be able to claim on your home insurance policy under accidental damage.
But it might not be worth making a claim given the excess on the policy and the cost of the repair. Also, you might lose your no-claims bonus.
The excess is the amount you pay towards a claim before the burden falls on the insurer.
If the cost of repairing the window is £300 and the excess on your policy is £350, the policy wouldn’t pay out for the claim.
But, should there be £1,500 worth of damage – perhaps because an expensive vase was on the windowsill – it might make sense to claim.
In this case, the insurer pays out £1,150, the difference between the total claim amount and your excess.
Vandalism and malicious damage
Your home insurance should cover acts of vandalism or malicious damage. This includes cases where you can’t prove or know for sure who the culprit is.
If you’re not viewed as being negligent, insurers tend to pay out for vandalism or malicious damage.
Negligence is typically where the damage after you leave the property unattended with doors and windows unlocked.
Again, whether it’s worth you making a claim on the home insurance policy depends on your excess and the cost of damage.
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What to do if a neighbour damages your property
If your neighbour damages your property, it could be worth asking them to reimburse you for the cost of repairs or a replacement.
Your neighbour might volunteer to do so without you having to ask. But it’s never certain until they’ve actually paid you.
You should take photos of the damage and keep any evidence in case you need it later.
You might be able to make a claim on your own home insurance policy if your neighbour refuses to pay. Or maybe they can’t pay, perhaps because of a lack of insurance cover on their part.
But there‘s still the home insurance excess to consider – the part you have to pay on a claim before the insurer pays the remainder.
What are the most common neighbour disputes?
The most common neighbour disputes are:
Fences and boundaries
This sort of dispute commonly arises when someone decides to put up a physical boundary for the first time.
Or when they have an extension or building and there's a difference of opinion on where the boundary lies.
You might be able to claim damages if your neighbour blocks access to your home through a shared driveway.
Trees and shrubs
This type of dispute could include light being blocked if a neighbour’s tree gets too tall. Or if encroaching branches from the other side of the fence become a nuisance.
Also, invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed could damage buildings.
Noise complaints are fairly common neighbour disputes.
Perhaps your neighbour likes to play loud music or have weekly all-night parties.
An example of this type of dispute includes a neighbour's dog barking too much, keeping you up at night.
Or perhaps their pets enjoy digging up your garden.
This dispute could include your neighbour or someone working for them coming into your garden without permission.
Is my neighbour automatically liable for damage caused to my property?
Not automatically, no.
Let’s say there’s a leak from the flat above yours that damages your ceiling. It’s likely your neighbour isn't responsible for repairing the damage if:
- They’ve kept their own home in good condition
- They didn’t know about the leak in advance
However, if they knew about the leak in advance and failed to take any action, they might be held responsible.
Or, let's say a neighbour has gone away all winter and left the heating off in freezing weather, resulting in burst pipes. It could be deemed that they’re liable for the resulting damage to your property as well as their own.
Your insurance provider should be able to help with the specific details of any case.
Should I claim on my home insurance for damage caused by my neighbour?
As with all insurance claims, it depends on the circumstances. If there’s a lot of damage, you might decide to put in a claim.
But remember, you may have to pay some of the cost, depending on your excess.
There could also be an impact on your no-claims bonus and your future insurance costs.
What happens if my neighbour doesn’t accept responsibility?
Your home insurer should still pay out on claims for damage to your house even if your neighbour doesn’t accept responsibility.
But for larger claims, such as those resulting from fire, your insurer could pursue your neighbour or their insurer for the claim amount later on.
For accidental damage in the low hundreds of pounds, you could accept it and move on. Your insurer might not pay out if the claim is below the level of your excess.
What if I can't prove that the damage was my neighbour's fault?
For a successful insurance claim, you need to prove that your neighbour caused the damage.
If you don’t have evidence, you can still submit a claim but there’s a chance it could be rejected.
If this happens, you need to negotiate the issue with your neighbour instead.
Can I use my home insurance to take my neighbour to court?
You might be able to use home legal protection insurance to pursue a claim against a neighbour for uninsured losses.
Legal expenses insurance or family legal protection cover might be included in some home insurance policies. But you could also get it separately as an optional extra.
Home legal protection insurance tends to cover you for situations where you need to arrange a legal defence because you’re being sued.
But if you’re trying to sue someone, your insurer might also look at the strength of your case.
They want to be sure there’s at least a reasonable chance you can win before they assign legal assistance to you.
If I have legal expenses cover with my home insurance policy, will it cover me?
Many home insurance policies that include legal expenses cover can provide cover for property disputes with neighbours.
But this isn’t always certain. So check your policy documents before you start the process. Without this cover, it can be an expensive process.
You can use legal expenses cover to take legal action but your insurer needs to first consider if your claim has 'reasonable prospects'.
You shouldn't rush into the decision to take legal action. It can cause tension with your neighbours and can affect your plans to sell the property in the future.
Always get independent legal advice before starting the process.
Does my home insurance cover damage to my neighbour's property?
If you accidentally damage your neighbour’s property, your insurance provider needs to be satisfied that you’re legally liable for the damage before it pays out.
You aren’t automatically liable. Though, if the problem was caused by something you knew about in advance, it might be decided that you are.
Your neighbour should claim on their own policy. Then, if their provider can get evidence that you're liable for the damage, they can then try to recover the costs from your insurer.
If you aren’t covered, they could try and get it from you directly.
Can I enter someone else’s property to turn off their water?
No, not without their permission.
So if your upstairs neighbour is away and water starts to come through your ceiling, you should call the police. They should be able to force entry to deal with the situation.
Are landlords responsible for repairing damage caused by a neighbour?
Landlords are responsible for keeping the structure of their tenants’ homes in good condition, including the ceilings, walls and plasterwork.
If a leak from your neighbour’s flat causes damage to a property you’re renting, then it falls on your landlord to get the repairs done.
This is why landlords usually ensure they have suitable landlord insurance to cover them for such events.
But landlords might not be responsible for any damage resulting to their tenants’ possessions.
Tenants can make claims under their own tenants insurance for damage to possessions caused by neighbours.
What happens if my neighbour's building workers damage my home?
If your neighbours are having work done on their home, they must ensure your property is protected.
According to GOV.UK, when work is being carried out on a property, you must:
- Avoid causing your neighbours unnecessary inconvenience
- Protect your neighbour’s property from damage caused by the works
- Fix or pay for any damage caused
If the building workers damage your home, there may be some debate over who's responsible.
But, whether it’s the fault of the workers or your neighbour, both should have insurance in place. This means you should be able to make a claim.
If your neighbours refuse to cooperate, there are several people you can contact:
- A mediator
- Your local authority
- A solicitor
If there’s evidence your neighbour is breaking the law, you can also contact the police to help resolve the issue.
How do I prevent future disputes with my neighbour?
You should always try and avoid getting into a dispute with your neighbour. And communication is the best way to do so.
It’s always best to talk to them so they understand how a particular issue might be affecting your household.
If you see potential issues such as a leak, crumbling wall or plant invading your garden, speak to your neighbour directly.
They may not even be aware of the problem and could be happy to fix it without a dispute.
If possible, notify your neighbour through written communication. If your neighbour doesn’t remedy the issue, this can be used as evidence should you need to make a claim.