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Views, Noise, and Other Potential Neighbor Disputes

Views

Disputes sometimes arise between neighbors about changing views. If a tree entirely on a neighbor's property grows so large that it blocks a property owner's view or even natural sunshine, 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 unless a local ordinance or Homeowners' Association rule exists regarding such an issue.

Structural Additions/Changes

Sometimes structural additions or changes ruin views and may potentially damage property values. Local zoning and building departments typically require permits and set rules for any building or structural changes. If the neighbor meets the legal requirements, generally nothing can be done. Homeowners' Associations and CC&Rs may be of some assistance, particularly if the change is unusually hideous and more cosmetic than structural.

Water

Natural water runoff from a neighbor's property due to rain or snow is not actionable, but any grading or building which alters the natural runoff may cause the neighbor to be liable for damages. If a neighbor's home improvement project causes a water line to burst, creating flood or water damage, the neighbor will likely be responsible. Fortunately, most homeowner's insurance policies cover this type of negligence.

Parking

Parking is governed by local laws and ordinances, and is typically 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 and have the vehicle ticketed and/or towed. A car parked on private property without permission can be considered abandoned and can be towed away by order of the property owner; however, unless the property owner has some arrangement with the towing company, a charge will likely 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, or perhaps Homeowner's 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 other than convincing the neighbor that such items detract from the neighborhood. There must be a written agreement to enforce any agreement for sharing maintenance and/or towing expenses for a shared driveway.

Noise

Excessive noise is usually 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 and, once the neighbor is found guilty of the violation, ask the judge to order "no excessive noise" as a condition of the violator's probation.

Weeds

Homeowner's Associations, health codes, local ordinances, and nuisance laws may prohibit unmaintained yards. Homeowner's 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.

Home Business

Although thousands of people work out of their homes, home-based businesses can cause traffic congestion, noise, unwelcome smells, unsightly signage, and general neighborhood upheaval. Local ordinances regulate home businesses and may require specific business licenses. Zoning ordinances may prevent home based businesses in residential areas altogether.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified attorney to help you address
difficulties with your neighbors.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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