Views, Noise, and Other Potential Neighbor Disputes
Many things can contribute to disputes between neighbors. It's important to know the laws that can help remedy any issues that can arise between neighbors. In this article, you'll learn how to handle such disputes with legal solutions. When your neighbor does any of the following, potential boundary disputes could arise:
- Blocks your picture-perfect view of the lake
- Creates excessive noise when you're trying to sleep
- Otherwise causes major nuisances
Continue reading to learn more about this area of real estate law.
Varieties of Disputes
Examples of disputes between neighbors include those related to:
- Real estate issues
- Property line issues
- Easement conflicts
In many cases, the neighbor may not realize their new deck blocks your view. They may not realize their late-night tinkering in the garage causes a commotion. Sometimes, just talking to them can solve the problem. But this is not always the case. You may need to take legal action. There are laws and processes designed to remedy common neighbor disputes.
Boundary lines, property owners, and real estate attorneys often play a crucial role in resolving these disputes. These are discussed in more detail below.
Disputes sometimes arise between neighbors about changing views. A tree entirely on a next-door neighbor's property may grow so large that it blocks a property owner's view—or even natural sunshine. If this happens, the best tactic is to discuss the matter with the neighbor. The homeowner probably has no legal right to get the neighbor to alter the tree. But if a local ordinance or homeowners' association rule provides an opportunity to take legal action, you could do so. In some instances, however, state laws may provide for tree branches to be trimmed when they reach the inside of an affected neighbor's property.
Structural Additions or Changes
Sometimes, structural additions or changes ruin views and may potentially damage property values. Local zoning laws typically require permits for and set rules for any building or structural changes. Building departments typically require the same. If the neighbor meets the legal requirements, generally, nothing can be done to prevent them from making structural additions. The same is true of alterations. But homeowners' associations may be of some assistance. This is particularly the case if the change is unusually hideous and more cosmetic than structural. Covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) may be useful in the same way.
Natural water runoff from a neighbor's property due to rain or snow is not actionable. But any grading or building that alters the natural runoff may make the neighbor liable for damages. If a neighbor's home improvement project causes a water line to burst, the neighbor will likely be responsible. In cases, for example, where such projects cause flood or water damage, it is likely they would be held responsible. Fortunately, most homeowners' insurance policies cover this type of negligence. This can head off any potential neighbor disputes.
Parking is governed by local laws and ordinances. Typically, they are enforced by the local municipality. If a car is parked in a no-parking zone, fire lane, or in an otherwise unlawful manner, a citizen can simply call the local parking enforcement authorities. These authorities can have the vehicle ticketed or towed. A car parked on private property without permission may be towed away. It may be towed away by order of the property owner. But unless the property owner has some arrangement with the towing company, a charge may be assessed at the time of the tow.
Broken cars or unsightly recreational vehicles parked on any property may violate a provision of the zoning code. They might also violate homeowners' association rules. If not, and if the vehicle is parked either on a neighbor's property or a public street, not much can be done to remedy the matter. The only other option could be convincing the neighbor that such items detract from the neighborhood. Ideally, there should be a written record of any agreement for sharing maintenance or towing expenses for a shared driveway.
Excessive noise can lead to a common potential neighbor dispute. You might not know that excessive noise can be treated as a criminal misdemeanor violation. Police can be called to quiet a noisy event. However, it is difficult to measure damages for any type of civil suit for continued noise violations. It may be possible to appear at the trial for a noise violation. Once the neighbor is found guilty of the violation, you could ask the judge to order "no excessive noise" as a condition of the violator's probation.
Homeowners' associations, health codes, local ordinances, and nuisance laws may prohibit unmaintained yards. Homeowners' associations sometimes have provisions in which, after adequate notice, the association may hire a landscaper to maintain the property and assess costs to the homeowner.
Thousands of people work out of their homes. But home-based businesses can cause the following:
- Traffic congestion
- Unwelcome smells
- Unsightly signage
- General neighborhood upheaval
Local ordinances regulate home businesses and may require specific business licenses. Zoning ordinances or association rules may prevent home-based businesses in residential areas altogether.
Get a Free Legal Evaluation of Your Neighbor Disputes
Whether the tension is caused by blocked views, noise, or other potential neighbor disputes, the best policy is to work out a reasonable agreement directly with your neighbor. But that isn't always possible. Sometimes, you need to take legal action. But maybe you're not sure where to begin. Start with a legal evaluation of your neighbor dispute issue. You can do so with an experienced real estate attorney today.
These professionals can provide legal advice tailored to your specific neighbor's property, boundary issues, and other legal issues. They can also help you navigate local ordinances and state laws related to the following:
- Property boundaries
- Property line disputes
Working with an attorney ensures the protection of your rights as a property owner.
In situations like trespassing, a barking dog, or boundary line disputes, establishing a strong client relationship with a real estate lawyer is often the last resort you can take. But sometimes, it's necessary to protect your property values and resolve various types of disputes with the help of a lawyer.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.