buying a house on a council estate - how to suss out neighbours?

(29 Posts)
patagonia09 Thu 17-Oct-13 13:26:59

We've put an offer in on a house we like, which is on a council estate in south london. I think about 95% of it is still council owned, and almost all of the gardens are in a pretty poor state (overgrown), the state of the curtains and doors in most houses indicates the people living there are on pretty low income, and I'm starting to feel a bit put off.
To clarify, I don't think being on a low income makes you a bad person. But people who are troubled (addictions, mental health problems, etc) tend to end up on low incomes because they can't hold down employment and subsequently get dumped on undesirable estates by the council, given no support, and can end up being troublesome. The one thing I can't bear is NOISY NEIGHBOURS, and my worst nightmare is living somewhere surrounded by late night parties, drunk fights, etc.
Am I being a total snob? Or am I just being realistic? And most of all, is there any way to find out more before we go ahead with the sale? I contacted the council to ask if there was a history of complaints about noise in the area but they were totally unhelpful.

KiplingBag Thu 17-Oct-13 13:35:00

You are not being a total snob at all. You have to live there and need to think carefully about it all.

Personally I wouldn't buy. Is it an area you could rent in first to suss it all out. If you are going ahead with it, then keep driving round there at different times of the day and night, and also weekend days and evenings. Should give you a good idea. You can also look up the crime stats for the area, can't remember where though.

It doesn't sound too promising by your discription.

sonlypuppyfat Thu 17-Oct-13 13:35:07

You could buy a house somewhere really posh and nice and still end up living next door to tossers. I was bought up on a council estate and it was lovely. Could you enquire with the police about crime rates there?

orangepudding Thu 17-Oct-13 13:36:50

Walk by the house at different times of day/night.

FriendlyElephant Thu 17-Oct-13 13:37:22

I think you can get problem neighbours anywhere. If the neighbours are unemployed then you could argue that they might be more likely to be up late drinking and whatever, but lots of working people also enjoy noisy parties, or noisy DIY, or have noisy children, and not everybody works 9-5, monday to friday.

I live in a council house, most of the area is council although my neighbours on all sides are privately owned, but I've had no problems whatsoever.

Plus, even if your neighbours are brilliant now, there's no telling who might move in later on!

ouryve Thu 17-Oct-13 13:45:07

It's definitely worth driving - or even walking around at different times of day. If you don't feel safe at a time you'd normally want to be out and about, that should be a warning.

The estate we walk through on the way to school is ex council and a mixture of privately owned, private rental and HA. Some of the houses are immaculate and the people who live there lovely. There's some I can't walk past fast enough, with regular shouting matches going from door to door. There's broken glass and dog dirt on the pavements and regular episodes of young men driving around on dirt bikes or quad bikes (including at school run time angry). You couldn't pay me to live there, if I had the choice.

That said, there's a violent drug user used to live at the end of our terrace of mostly private houses (recently evicted) and the Boswells have set up their own version of Steptoe's yard at the other end. (Only they have more vehicles than the Boswells did)

BurberryQ Thu 17-Oct-13 13:47:41

just do not buy it, it is not worth it, there is a reason why it is 'cheap' - you will only find out what a place is really like by living there for some time.
I have lived on two council estates, and would not go near one now, not for anything.
no offence to the good people of the estates.....

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Thu 17-Oct-13 13:56:02

I have heard that there are nice estates, one my friend lives on seems ok. My own experience means i would never buy on one if i could help it.

Drugs, dealing, groups of young men intimidating people, fights, driving of those mini motorbike things on pavements, junk dumped everywhere, front gardens full of mattresses etc, old people bullied, stabbings, robberies . . .

It only takes a few horrible families to ruin an estate (or one if they live next door to you).

You never know, the one you are looking at might be the exception.

jellybeans Thu 17-Oct-13 14:06:21

I have lived in council, private rent and owned estates and there are bad neighbours everywhere. I agree though that this is more likely in council estates because 'problem families' tend to live in these areas. However most people are lovely genuine and normal and many elderly having lived there from the 50s. On the plus side most people I know who have had neighbours evicted are in council as there are procedures for getting rid of antisocial tenants. Long process though. . In summary I would only buy ex council if it was a good area with good immediate neighbours. A few 'dodgy types' round the corner wouldn't bother me but right next door would.

Isn't there some rule now where the seller has to be honest about problem neighbours? maybe ask them? Also definitely agree with driving and walking round at various times. School pick up times and Fri/Sat nights especially. That's when my problem neighbours of the past were noisiest. Ask people to ask people they know about the area, ask on social networks etc. Check how popular the area is as well in case you need to sell. So I think be cautious but maybe you will be fine.

Bumblequeen Thu 17-Oct-13 14:14:13

I would not live on a council estate for reasons mentioned above. I may be generalising here but find people tend to care less about their homes/outside environment when they are renting.

I know a few people that live on council estates and they have no trouble neighbours. I just would not take the risk.

gamerchick Thu 17-Oct-13 14:18:24

I live on a council estate and it's pretty quiet.

Walk around the estate at night on a weekend for a few weeks and see what it's like.

exexpat Thu 17-Oct-13 14:34:25

I would say basically, if you are unsure about an area, don't do it. You know what they say about location, location, location... There is nothing worse than being trapped in a house or area you don't feel comfortable or safe in.

Having said that, if you don't want to dismiss it out of hand, all the advice above about going round on Friday/Saturday nights etc is good. Also, have you checked on the police website which lets you check crime by postcode? It can be a bit alarming as it initially gives you all crimes within a one-mile radius - my 'posh' area near the centre of a city had about 1,500 crimes in August, apparently, but then the one-mile radius covers some pretty busy nightlife areas and one area with a bit of a drug/prostitution problem - but you can use the map to narrow it down more specifically to the group of streets you are interested in. Then try the same with a similar-sized chunk of the area you are in now to see how they compare.

You might also want to try googling the names of the street you are buying on and a few neighbouring ones for local newspaper court reports - they usually give the address of the offender, minus the house number. That might give you an idea of whether there is anyone nearby who is likely to cause problems with drugs, assault, burglaries etc.

patagonia09 Thu 17-Oct-13 14:37:53

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to respond. I'm trying to get round there as often as I can to see what it's like at different times. I just know that if we don't go for this place and buy somewhere else, no doubt we'll end up in a nice posh street with some real noisy arseholes next door!

exexpat Thu 17-Oct-13 14:41:16

It is true that even 'posh' areas can be noisy - my area is relatively expensive, but it is also close to the university, which means there are a lot of student houses around. There are very loud parties, particularly at the beginning and end of term, and I can regularly hear loud groups of people in the street at 2 or 3am at weekends - not fighting, just drunk and inconsiderate.

BurberryQ Thu 17-Oct-13 14:41:42

never mind what it is like at different times, your real issue will be your immediate neighbours. my flat on a south london estate was lovely except for the mentally ill upstairs neighbour who would clean his 'yard' by throwing buckets of water over it, until we had water dripping through the light fittings......

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 17-Oct-13 14:43:41

I wouldn't write it off for being on a council estate, but you are right to worry about the poor state of the surrounding houses. I think it likely that if your neighbours don't keep their house in a decent state of repair (I'm not talking Showhome condition here!), then they may not care about others social niceties, like not making too much noise etc.
Huge generalisation of course, but you kind of have to go with your instincts when buying a house.

Patagonia, I know South London very well, have an ex local authority house on an estate here, if you pm me location as I'd rather not give it out, we can see if it is the same one.

patagonia09 Thu 17-Oct-13 15:30:20

OneStep - that's very kind, but what if you're the person selling the house we put the offer on? That would be awkward....!

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Thu 17-Oct-13 15:48:50

That link was very interesting.

smile have pm you.

justThis blush grin

Bowlersarm Thu 17-Oct-13 16:36:56

Are you vendor and purchaser patagonia and onestep ??? That would be a coincidence.

JustThisOnceOrTwiceOrThrice Thu 17-Oct-13 16:58:19

I was so confused for a moment grin

BMW6 Thu 17-Oct-13 17:39:42

I must be a total snob, because overgrown gardens and tatty curtains etc would be a dealbreaker for me.

(was born in and lived my first 24 years in Council House on an Estate)

No Bowlersarm, we're not grin that would be bloody scary!

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