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Legal How-To: Battling a Neighborhood Eyesore

By Betty Wang, JD on October 29, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

How can you battle a neighborhood eyesore? Nobody likes unsightly property -- overgrown weeds, peeling and rotting paint, and a general unkempt appearance can detract from the quality of your neighborhood.

Sure, it may not be your problem or your fault, but why should you have to look at it? On top of that, the property value of your own home could go down because of it.

Neighborhood eyesores are a fairly common problem. Luckily, despite the fact that it's not your own home, there are some ways to deal with this issue. Here are a few steps that you can take when faced with a neighborhood eyesore:

  1. Notify the homeowners' association. If you are a part of a homeowners' association, your HOA's policy might spell out your options when it comes to neighborhood eyesores and help direct your next step. Many HOAs will take care of regular maintenance issues like mowing a lawn, among other general clean-up duties, and then bill this expense to the proper resident.
  2. Try the direct approach. Many neighbors choose to go with the obvious, direct approach and actually discuss the problem with the offending neighbor. While this may seem daunting, it is also often the most effective and practical way to address the problem. Make sure that you approach the issue with sensitivity and caution, and don't deliver your concerns in a way that could be construed as combative or offensive.
  3. Look into local laws. Another step you can take is to look up your local laws. Depending on your state or local jurisdiction, this may prove useful. For example, some cities have enacted ordinances that fine homeowners for not properly maintaining their property.
  4. Report local code violations. You and your neighbors can also look into taking action on your own, especially if the eyesore property has been abandoned or foreclosed. You can start by reporting the code violation to your local government, which may take action. In some cases involving foreclosed homes, you may be able to get permission to begin cleaning up the abandoned property with your fellow neighbors.

Need More Help?

As you can see, battling a neighborhood eyesore may take some time and effort. If all else fails, you may want to contact an experienced real estate attorney in your area. He or she can help you assess the situation and determine whether or not you have grounds to pursue a potential private nuisance lawsuit.

Are you facing a legal issue you'd like to handle on your own? Suggest a topic for our Legal How-To series by sending us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #HowTo.

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