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Do you have bad neighbors?

Do you have bad neighbors?

The front page of the Real Estate section of yesterday’s¬†Seattle Times (Jan. 22, 2012) has an interesting article titled Next-Door Nemeses (by Dianna Wurn). The author puts some much-deserved focus on the phenomenon of bad neighbors and how they can affect both your peace of mind and your property values.

There are all kinds of bad neighbors, of course, ranging from the merely messy to the truly obnoxious. And what bothers you, may not bother someone else. Can you tolerate loud music with a pounding bass on a regular basis? How about dogs that defecate on your lawn or bark incessantly? What about a yard that is grossly overgrown or full of garage sale remnants? Multiple broken-down cars parked in front of the house? A disintegrating fence? Peeling paint? What if you suspect your neighbor is dealing drugs or running a house of prostitution or is a registered (or unregistered) sex offender?

When you think about it, there are soooooo many possibilities for bad behavior by a neighbor that we should be really grateful when the people next door are civil and considerate, even if they might not be best-friend material.

Bad behaviors involving the upkeep of a yard or house are often more easily cured than rude or obnoxious behavior, perhaps because it is less subjective. Most cities, including Seattle, have codes made up of ordinances requiring a certain level of upkeep by homeowners. For the most part, however, it seems to be up to one neighbor to report another for violations. I’ve never talked to anyone who knows the actual contents of these ordinances unless they’ve been in a dispute, but here is the Department of Planning and Development web address where you can fill out a complaint form.

One of the reasons this article caught my eye is that I have a friend who feels trapped in her home by this very problem. She has the neighbor from hell living on the other side of the wall that separates her town home from his. This is a guy who has invested heavily in the most expensive, commercial-grade sound equipment available and delights in cranking the volume up to its maximum during his frequent parties, which last till the wee hours. Hard to believe he has so many equally inconsiderate and oblivious friends.

Unable to negotiate a peaceful co-existence with this neighbor, my friend desperately wants to sell her town home and move, but she bought when prices were still high so selling now would mean losing a painfully significant amount of money. Plus, she took advantage of the $8K government tax credit, so she has to live in the house for 3 years or pay back the $8K.

She submitted a noise complaint to the City once, be the neighbor figured out who made the complaint and retaliated, so she is afraid to try that again. Other neighbors are equally unwilling to turn this guy in. Bad, bad Leroy Brown.

My friend and I have racked our brains, but haven’t come up with a workable solution that will allow her to retain both her mind and her investment. If you have any ideas, she’d love to hear them.

Tell me about the worst neighbor you’ve ever had.