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The £246 million cost of the neighbourhood botch

16th February 2011

More than 830,000 homeowners say they are at war with their neighbours

Neighbourhood botches are costing homeowners as much as £246 million a year in damage to their property. Research conducted for Direct Line* has revealed that the people next door are responsible for a range of incidents from smashed windows to cut-off electricity and flooded houses.

The nationwide study found nearly one in ten homeowners (nine per cent) has suffered damage to their property caused by their neighbours in the past five years, with the average cost of repairs running to £541 a time.

The most common disasters have involved utilities, with electricity, gas, phone lines and water being cut off as a result of a neighbour’s mishap. This was followed closely by damage to garden walls, garden ornaments and smashed windows. Failed DIY projects by neighbours were responsible for 14 per cent of the damage, while 31 per cent of the damage was caused by the children next door, the research shows.

With such major damage it is perhaps no surprise that neighbourly relations have soured in many cases. The fall-out from neighbourhood botches has even included legal action, with seven per cent of affected homeowners turning to the courts as a result of mishaps. Nearly four in ten (37 per cent) of those who suffered damage to their properties by neighbours no longer speak to them and 22 per cent regard themselves at war with next door. One in three (34 per cent) of those who suffered damage believe it was deliberate vandalism by their neighbours.

However, a mishap can also lead to friendship after bonding over the experience, as a forgiving 10 per cent say they now get on better with their neighbours as a result of damage being done to their property.

Matt Owen, spokesperson at Direct Line commented: “You can’t chose your neighbours and people can be really unlucky, ending up with the neighbours from hell. However, accidents do happen even if you have the best possible relationship with the people next door. If disputes are sorted out and repairs paid for, the problem need not escalate. The research shows that despite a range of issues, nearly 60 per cent of us get on well with our neighbours.”

Households in Wales and London have seen the most damage to their properties, with 18 per cent of Welsh householders and 16 per cent in London suffering from a range of neighbourhood botches. The average cost of repairs is highest in Scotland at £1,166 and in London at £1,059.

Percentage of homeowners who have suffered damage to property caused by neighbours in past five years 

Region Percentage
Wales 18%
London 16%
Northern Ireland 12%
East Midlands 10%
East 8%
South East 8%
Noth West 8%
West Midlands 8%
Yorkshire/ Humberside 7%
South West 5%
Scotland 3%
North East 3%

Notes to editors
* interviewed a random sample of 2,671 adults aged 18+ via online omnibus between 12th and 19th November 2010 for Direct Line. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.

For further information please contact
Ewan Robertson/Kevan Reilly
Tel: 0207 282 2981/1096

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides car, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting