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91% of house-hunting AA members look for a new home with off-street parking
One in three flare-ups between neighbours is car-related, AA Home Emergency Response research has uncovered. In some parts of the country, parking disputes account for 36% of bust-ups with the people next door or down the road.
So bad is the ‘rat in a barrel’ mentality of parking on UK residential streets that 91% of house-hunting AA members look for a new home with off-street parking*, second only to the desire for a ‘safe neighbourhood’ (98%) .
As well as increasing the value of a property by 8%, a parking space off the road can pay off handsomely in some urban residential areas. On-street resident’s parking permits cost as much as £785 a year - and a space outside the house isn’t guaranteed. Consequently, finding a neighbour or their visitor parked outside someone else’s home sparks 19% of neighbourly disputes.
An AA-Populus survey of 23,450 AA members (11-17 June 2013) found that 33% of neighbour bust-ups are rooted in car-related disputes. Overall, 27% of AA members have fallen out with their neighbours, with noise (23%) the single biggest cause.
Car-related problems break down into four categories: blocking access to a property or driveway (13% of all disputes), parking outside a neighbour’s house (12%), using a neighbour’s parking space (7%) or car repairs/maintenance (1%).
The five next-biggest residential flashpoints are boundaries (11%), trees and hedges (8%), building work (6%), pets (5%) and children (3%).
(percentage in dispute, regionally)
When Acacia Avenue turns into a residential battleground, it is noise or cars most likely to start hostilities between neighbours
Tom Stringer, head of AA Home Emergency Response
“When Acacia Avenue turns into a residential battleground, it is noise or cars most likely to start hostilities between neighbours. Apart from Welsh sensitivity to boundaries and hedges and London’s relatively laid-back attitude to pets, the pattern of neighbourly disputes is fairly consistent across the country,” says Tom Stringer, head of AA Home Emergency Response.
“Parking traumas are less down to the popularity of cars than the need for both partners to work and be independently mobile. Young workers group together in more affordable accommodation and often have their own vehicles. As a result, necessity grows a neighbourhood’s car population, squeezes available space, ratchets up friction and, like rats in a barrel, neighbours can lash out at each other.”
Tom Stringer adds: “Parking permits, designed to protect residents’ parking, can heat up the hostility further. Although 12% of the survey sample wrongly assume that they have an automatic right to park outside their house, the often high cost of parking permits reinforces that sense of ‘ownership’.
“It is understandable that councils may want to use cost as a way to reduce demand and make residents think twice about getting another car, but high permit charges undermine residents’ acceptance of controlled parking zones as a protective measure. Those councils that provide the first parking permit free or at low cost, to reflect the cost of running the scheme, seem to have the balance right.”
*AA Home Panel survey of 1,291 customers, conducted by Populus 1-16 November 2012
(12 July 2013)