Nuisance Neighbors

Nuisance Neighbors - 2/04/08

Wouldn't it be great if you could live in a nice neighborhood...without any neighbors? Or at least if you could pick your neighbors?

Come on, I'm sure you have at least one neighbor who's not very neighborly, just a real pain. Over the years that I've written a consumer newspaper column or hosted this TV show, I've received more complaints about nasty neighbors than anything else.

So let's talk about the three top neighbor nuisances, and how you might handle them.

NEIGHBOR NUISANCE #1 is: Unfriendly fences . What is your neighbor puts a 10 foot high fence right at the edge of the property, cutting off your open views and making it tough to enjoy your land? In most cases, there's not much you can do. But here are two angles that might give you a chance to get the fence removed: first, check to make sure this fence is entirely on his property. One foot, one inch over the line into your property, and the fence must go. Second, take a trip to city hall, and check the building ordinances. Talk to the housing inspector too. If the fence is too tall, or doesn't exactly fit the community rules, you may be able to get the fence removed.

NEIGHBOR NUISANCE #2 is: Nightly Noise . Your neighbor lets his dog bark all night. Or blasts his stereo at 2:00 a.m., keeping you awake. You don't have to put up with it. If your neighbor sends unreasonable noise across the border of your property into your airspace, he's trespassing B just as if he stepped onto your land without permission.

Again, call your local housing office to check the noise ordinances. Many communities set decibel standards to outlaw excessive noise.

NEIGHBOR NUISANCE #3 is: Tree Trespass . What if your neighbor's tree branches grow into your yard, blocking your sunlight? Or the roots damage your foundation? If the leaves, branches or roots cross the property line, you can cut them off, as long as you don't have to enter his yard and you don't kill his tree. And if the base of your neighbor's tree or shrubs is actually placed on your property, you can force him to remove it entirely.

If you're having problems with neighbors, try not to escalate the issues into full blown warfare. Talk with your neighbors first, try to work things out. Once you bring in the police or lawyers, nobody's likely to win.