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More than a quarter of UK homeowners have had their property damaged by a neighbour, reveals a new report by Direct Line. Unruly neighbours have in fact run up a collective repair bill of over £5 billion, with damage to shared walls or fencing the most common complaint. Other neighbourly botches include damage by unkempt gardens, miscellaneous accidental damage and pest or vermin problems.

The average repair bill for each of these nextdoor-nightmares is around £384, but unfortunately your neighbour is unlikely to be picking up the tab anytime soon. Only 57% of neighbours who caused damage admitted to doing so, and even fewer (29%) stumped up the cash to cover the costs.

Katie Lomas, a spokesman for Direct Line, commented:

"It is not uncommon for homeowners to suffer damage to their property as a result of the actions of their neighbours. More often than not it's accidental or unintended, but there can still be significant costs incurred and repair work required.

Every eventuality is unlikely to be covered by a home insurance policy and asking a neighbour to foot the bill can often be awkward, so prevention is always better than cure. We would urge anyone who notices early signs of damage that may be caused by a neighbour to speak to them about it straight away and hopefully avoid a costly repair bill altogether."

In the run-up to a property sale, it is particularly important to have a chat with your neighbour if you have a disagreement about something. Things like excessively tall trees, messy gardens, damaged walls or feral pets can seriously affect the impression that your property gives off to potential buyers.

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