April 4, 2016
Living with Nightmare Neighbors
US News & World Report quoted me in How to Avoid and Live With Neighbor Nightmares. It opens,
When Mike Scanlin and his wife moved into an expensive ground-floor condominium within a four-story building in a posh part of Los Angeles 18 months ago,the real estate agent assured him that there were no noise nuisances, like loud dogs or kids.
It did seem that way at first, but as Scanlin discovered, “There is a 9-year-old boy’s bedroom directly above our bedroom. He is, like most 9-year-olds, hyperactive.”
Especially in the morning, and the evening, Scanlin says, when the boy “runs, jumps, screams and makes tons of noise.”
Scanlin has talked to the boy’s mother to no avail. An entrepreneur who works from home, Scanlin also sent building managers complaint letters, who in turn, sent letters to the mom.
“Nothing has worked. It’s getting worse,” Scanlin says. “Sometimes the kid gets up at 3 a.m. and rearranges the furniture in his room, with wood scraping on wood, directly above our bed.”
Scanlin and his wife are moving out next month. They aren’t willing to wait around until the kid grows up or hopefully grows out of his behavior.
They say you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends and neighbors. Easier said than done, when it comes to housing. It isn’t easy to move, and for some homeowners, financially speaking, once you do plant your roots, you may not be in any position to go elsewhere. That’s why, if you’re buying a home, it’s critical to have some sense of who’s living next door – or above you. Neighbors are important for renters to consider, too, especially if you’re locking yourself in with a lease.
So before you buy or rent, ask yourself the following questions. Because if the answers aren’t promising, you may like the solutions at your disposal even less.
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What to do if there are problems. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do, realistically, which is why it’s so important to try and assess the neighbor situation before moving in. When you do have a dispute, “these are always difficult situations, without easy legal answers,” says David Reiss, a professor of law at Brooklyn Law School.
“When you escalate by calling the police or filing a lawsuit, you risk developing a Hatfield and McCoys scenario with nobody getting what they want,” Reiss says. “It’s also important to remember that what you think to be utterly reasonable may not be perceived that way by your neighbor or even by disinterested third parties. What is loud music to you may just be a run-of-the-mill Saturday night party to them.”
True enough, and your neighbors have rights, too – which is, again, why it can be difficult to work out a disagreement.
If you can’t resolve problems with your neighbors, Reiss says, “you can try to determine whether your neighbor is breaking any local ordinances. For instance, loud noise.”
You may want to involve the police and see if they will deal with the problem informally, Reiss adds. “They may or may not,” he says.| Permalink