The woman’s house was vacant after her death. Eventually, her family put a for sale sign on it. The house shared a driveway with the neighbor. The neighbor had enjoyed her privacy while the home was empty and had wanted it to remain that way. So every time it was shown, the neighbor would hang around and regale the prospective buyers with horror stories about the property.
Stories of bad neighbors don’t happen too frequently.
Laws require sellers to disclose what flaws they know about their property, but there’s no mandatory disclosure that the neighbors throw loud parties all night long or let trash pile up in their yard.
The problem too is often nosy neighbors more than “bad” neighbors. The neighbors want to know who may be moving in next door to them so they look for every excuse to be in their yard when the agents pull up with potential buyers. You often see neighbors who want to be part of the process and they come over and have a conversation with the people looking at the home. When that happens you just have to work around it.
Sometimes neighbors will come over during a showing and say they want the people who buy the home to have kids the same age as theirs so they have someone to play with. If that happens, you just smile and say thanks.
Most of the time, the issues with neighbors are easily solvable with a few polite words. An offer to help may also resolve the issue.
If the neighbor has lots of junk in their yard and it’s unsightly, the seller can go over and offer to help clean it up. The seller might even offer to pay for the cleanup or at least some of it.
Or if it’s a foreclosure, and the property needs some yard maintenance, the seller can check with the bank or mortgage lender and request it send someone to mow the lawn or remove weeds and dead landscaping.
If there’s a homeowner’s association in the neighborhood, the seller can ask the HOA to help settle the dispute.
Legal action should be last resort
It’s in the best interest of everyone in the neighborhood for sellers to get the highest price for their home and for their home to sell in a timely manner. Sometimes “bad” neighbors just need a little prodding to see that a quick sale at the best price helps them too. It’s best to be honest, direct and generous with the offending neighbors and when you are, the issues seem to go away.
If all else fails, you can talk to a lawyer, but that hopefully won’t be necessary. If you are going the legal route, it helps to document the issue. Keep notes of the dates you spoke to your neighbor and what was said. Take photos of any damage or problem but don’t trespass on your neighbor’s yard.
Other common bad neighbor problems and how to solve them:
Barking, threatening or vicious dogs that come into your yard. Call the local animal control. And be sure you keep your trash can lids tight.
Abandoned or junked cars in the street. If you ask your neighbor to remove the car and they refuse, call the police and tell them how long the car has been sitting there. They may be able to take action under local ordinances. Let someone else be the bad guy who gets the problem resolved.